Aquaculture for all

Australians to help set up Arabian fish farms

Environment Education & academia +1 more

Three new aquaculture sites are being planned off the coast of Dalma Island in the Arabian Gulf.

BMT has been appointed by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) in order to assess the environmental carrying capacity of the locations.

Mohamed Hasan Ali Al Marzooqi at EAD comments: “BMT offered clear advantages over its competitors, based on the quality of their products and service. Their excellent track record in Australia – arguably one of the toughest regulatory environments in the world – was also very attractive to the EAD team.”

BMT will deliver a state-of-the-art environmental impact assessment (EIA) approach to assess the potential impacts of sea cage operations in each of the three proposed sites. It will use the same advanced modelling techniques that it used to enable a major Australian aquaculture facility to secure approval by the Western Australia Environment Protection Authority.

Dr Glenn Shiell, Marine Scientist at BMT Oceanica explains: “Proposed aquaculture developments such as these, however important to food security, must be undertaken using the best possible tools for predicting both the instantaneous and cumulative effects of aquaculture, to provide the EAD with confidence that the impacts are negligible, or if not small and entirely manageable.”

BMT will integrate its existing water column and benthic biogeochemical numerical tools to undertake an environmental carrying capacity assessment. This will enable the team to determine how many tonnes of sea cage fish stock can be sustainably cultivated in the marine environment and analyse any impacts on the seafloor under the proposed sea cages. Through its suite of modelling tools, BMT will also be able to determine how long it will take for the environment to recover once the fish farms are fallowed – this is a key consideration for the environmental management strategy.

Dr Shiell continues: “This is a fantastic achievement for the team and reinforces our market presence in the Middle East, where we have been working for the last ten years. We will ensure that we deliver against the EAD’s requirements and provide a robust EIA approach which they have absolute confidence in taking forward to the next step.”

BMT will also support the EAD in the development of an environmental management framework for the marine environment to ensure the ongoing operations are sustainable, as well as provide targeted training of EAD staff in all the tools used in this project. This will enable knowledge transfer and capacity building for the EAD team.