Aquaculture Europe 2021

October 4 - 7, 2021

Funchal, Madeira

Add To Calendar 07/10/2021 09:00:0007/10/2021 09:20:00Europe/LisbonAquaculture Europe 2021FIVE INTEGRATED MULTITROPHIC AQUACULTURE LABORATORIES, ONE GOAL – RESILIENT AQUACULTURE IN THE FACE OF EMERGING THREATS: ASTRAL PROJECTMezzanine-CasinoThe European Aquaculture Societyalistair@aquaeas.eufalseanrl65yqlzh3g1q0dme13067DD/MM/YYYY


Pauline O’Donohoe*1, Brett Macey2, Tomás Chalde3, Luis Poersch4, Adrian Macleod5 & Elisa Ravagnan6.


 1 Marine Institute, Rinville (MI), Oranmore, Co. Galway, Ireland

2 Department of Forestry, Fisheries & the Environment, Aquaculture Research (DFFE), Sea Point 8001, South Africa & Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town (UCT), Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

 3 Consejo Nacional De Investigaciones Cientificas Y Tecnicas (CONICET), Godoy Cruz 2290, Buenos Aires C1425FQB, Argentina

 4 Universidade Federal Do Rio Grande-Furg (FURG), Avenida Italia Km 8 Campus Carreiros, Rio Grande 96201 900, Brazil

5  The Scottish Association for Marine Science Lbg (SAMS), Scottish Marine Institute, Dunbeg Oban PA37 1QA, United Kingdom

 6  Norwegian Research Centre As (NORCE ), Nygardsgaten 112, Bergen 5008, Norway


* Email:



 Aquaculture is recognised as  being  the most promising source of animal proteins (FAO, 2018) , however aquaculture faces  a challenging future in the face of emerging threats. Increased risk of disease and harmful algae blooms connected with climate change along with production and infrastructure losses from extreme events, fluctuations in water temperature and oxygen levels , ocean acidification, changes in rainfall patterns,  create many problems for sustainable aquaculture (Lafferty, 2015) . Microplastics are also posing a threat to aquaculture and its products as they are wide spread and can be found in aquatic fauna (GESAMP, 2016). ASTRAL will focus on the Integrated Multitrophic A quaculture (IMTA) production to address these challenges. In IMTA systems, the waste of one crop (fed animals) are converted into fertilizer, food and energy for the other crops (extractive plants and animals) . IMTA can reduce the environmental impact, diversify and increase production, lower investment risks, create jobs, increase consumers’ trust,  as well as supporting  sustainable aquaculture and the circular bioeconomy (Chopin, 2015) .  The aim of ASTRAL is to boost IMTA with the implementation of innovative, and resilient  production and the monitoring of environmental hazards with new technology to build long-lasting cooperation across the Atlantic.


Five IMTA labs, four case studies and one prospective IMTA lab have been identifie d along the Atlantic coast .  ASTRAL will assess the added value of the species combination throughout the production cycles, through developing health management systems , assessing biosecurity ,  food safety  and profitability.

 The  IMTA lab in Brazil is an  inshore r ecirculating system  using  intensive Biofloc technology. Shrimp hyper-intensive, zero water exchange, biofloc systems are a sustainable and biosecure alternative to intensive culture systems. D uring the shrimp  production there is an accumulation of nutrients and organic matter (biofloc) that need to be removed mechanica lly or biologically. Therefore,  the integration of species that consume organic matter (tilapia and oysters) and nutrients (seaweeds and halophytes) are being investigated as an alternative to maintain the water quality in the production system.

 IMTA lab South Africa incorporates Buffeljags Abalone, a commercial farm growing abalone in land-based raceway tanks and Ulva in adjacent interconnected paddle raceways using abalone effluent. The Ulva serves as a biofilter allowing 50% of the water from the  Ulva systems to be re-circulated back to the abalone tanks with the Ulva used as supplementary feed, contributing to sustainability and the circularity. C oncerns regarding biosecurity and a paucity of information on production methods for emerging species,  is limiting wider use of this technology. IMTA lab SA aims to develop and validate cost-effective IMTA in land-based pump ashore systems for new high value aquaculture species (sea urchins).

 IMTA lab Scotland, an open water system,  will optimise cultivation techniques of macroalgal and shellfish to demonstrate an improved economic case for the co-cultivation of kelps spp. and the native oyster , and  to achieve production scales necessary to produce widespread positive mitigation effects when collocated together with sources of anthropogenic nitrogen e.g. salmon farms. IMTA lab Scotland will undertake year-round environmental monitoring and sample collection to improve the cultivation system performance aimed at improving yield and composition , stocking density and biosecurity. The development of new cultivation systems will explore options to minimise cultivation waste through improved system design and reducing, reusing, and recycling polymer-based cultivation materials.

IMTA lab Ireland is developing and validating cost-effective IMTA processes in open water system. This IMTA system will explore the feasibility of the cultivation of Atlantic salmon, lumpfish, European lobster, native oyster, scallop spp. , seaweed spp. and spiny sea urchins. Production technologies for these species will be assessed and optimised in the IMTA system. IMTA lab Ireland will operate in line with organic standards to enhance potential profitability and to mitigate environmental impact. IMTA lab Ireland will seek to establish best practice for the cultivation of these species by monitoring and assessing animal welfare, biosecurity and health management.

 The prospective IMTA lab in Argentina will gain knowledge from the other IMTA labs. Feasibility studies will be carried out to assess local species and identify appropriate sites within the Beagle Channel to facilitate IMTA. Data will be acquired on water quality parameters as one of the primary inputs for choosing the species assemblages and to simulate a productive cycle. Due to the shortage of high-quality protein sources available locally in Tierra del Fuego for fish feed, it is proposed to assess the viability of earthworm as a dietary protein source for the potential fish species.


 ASTRAL will examine the potential  of all the IMTA value chains throughout the growing seasons to establish optimal production conditions .  Continual monitoring to help establish baseline data to achieve better yield and profitability, less environmental impacts and less waste is being undertaken .


Chopin, T., 2015. Marine Aquaculture in Canada: Well-Established Monocultures of Finfish and Shellfish and an Emerging Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) Approach Including Seaweeds, Other Invertebrates, and Microbial Communities. Fisheries 40, 28-31

FAO. 2018. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 - Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

 GESAMP. 2016. Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment: Part 2 of a global assessment, ed. P.J. Kershaw & C.M. Rochman . GESAMP Reports and Studies No. 93. London, IMO

 Lafferty KD et al.2015  Infectious diseases affect marine fisheries and aquaculture economics. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 7, 471–496. (doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015646)


 This work is part of the ASTRAL project, funded by the EU H2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 863034.