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Aquaculture Goes Green


IRELAND - With increasing growth of algae along coast lines, scientists are looking at using aquaculture to remove excess nutrients from the sea says Nicolas Ranninger, from Bord Bia.

Increased levels of organic nutrients evident in rivers has led to growth of algae or phytoplankton blooms on the coast line which can result in severe damage to the ecosystem, especially when the decaying algae release decomposing gazes such as hydrogen sulphide and deplete the waters oxygen levels resulting in anoxia.

A team of scientists in Kiel on the Baltic coast are developing a pilot experiment to remove the excess nutrients and phytoplankton released into the sea. They will be farming mussels and brown seaweed which will be respectively using phytoplankton and nutrients. Both of these species have strong nutritive needs and commercial value. The initial project is to farm 32 tonnes of mussels and 10 tonnes of seaweed. This may point towards a new form of collaboration between “land” and “sea” farmers where shellfish and seaweed farmers will not only be producing food but also given the task to remove the excess nutrients released in the sea.

Shellfish and seaweed food production may not be the only approach in limiting algae blooms but also algal biofuel production. Across the world over 50 companies are now producing algal biofuel on commercial scale, some of which are using waste water. These are probably only the first signs of the green revolution being applied in the aquaculture sector. With potential opportunities such as availability of farming sites, species with pharmaceutical interest, biofuel, waste water treatment, aquaculture appears to have strong assets for further growth in today’s changing and challenging world.