Aquaculture Europe 2023

September 18 - 21, 2023


Add To Calendar 21/09/2023 10:30:0021/09/2023 10:45:00Europe/ViennaAquaculture Europe 2023AQUACULTURE IN DISTANT AND EXPOSED ENVIRONMENTS: SCIENTIFICALLY DETERMINED INDICES AND APPLICATIONS FOR AQUACULTURE SITE CHARACTERIZATION IN A TRANSDISCIPLINARY CONTEXTClub & BrasserieThe European Aquaculture Societywebmaster@aquaeas.orgfalseDD/MM/YYYYaaVZHLXMfzTRLzDrHmAi181982


Bela H. Buck1,2*, Michael Chambers3, Barry A. Costa-Pierce4,5, Nicholas Scott6, Tobias Dewhurst7, Ramon Filgueira8, Nils Goseberg9,10, Kevin Heasman6, Wolf Isbert1, Gesche Krause1, Till Markus11, Tyler Sclodnick12, Daniel Wieczorek13


1 Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen

  12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany.

2 University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven, An der Karlstadt 8, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany.

3 School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 

  03824, USA.

4 Ecological Aquaculture Foundation LLC, Biddeford, ME 04005, USA.

5 Faculty of Biosciences & Aquaculture, Nord University, Bodø, Norway.

6 Blue Technology Group, Cawthron Institute, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand.

7 Kelson Marine Co., 2 Portland Fish Pier, Ste. 210, Portland, Maine, USA.

8 Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, B3H 4J1, Canada

9 Leichtweiß-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Beethovenstr. 51A, 38126 Braunschweig, Germany.

10 Coastal Research Center, Joint Research Facility of Leibniz University Hannover and Technische 

  Universität Hannover, Merkursstr. 11, 30419, Hannover, Germany.

11 Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig,


12 Innovasea, 20 Angus Morton Drive, Bedford, Nova Scotia B4B 0L9, Canada.

13 National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of

   Aquaculture, USA.





The terms “offshore” and “open ocean” have been used to describe aquaculture sites that are further from the coast and/or in higher energy environments. Neither term has been clearly defined in scientific literature or in a legal context and the terms are often used interchangeably. These and other related terms (e.g., “exposed”, “high-energy”), refer to specific aspects of a site, usually the geographic distance from shore or infrastructure, or the level of exposure to an extended fetch leading to large waves and strong currents. The term "offshore aquaculture" has hitherto encompassed various perspectives, including technology, geographical location, legal jurisdiction, and more.  To resolve the ambiguity in this term and understand its implications for current and future aquaculture, "offshore" should be resolved into two separate metrics: (1) Distance from shore and (2) exposure. Consequently, “offshore is defined by the distance from the shore while exposure can be applied as additional character or aspect of any site”.

Details of the project

The ICES Working Group for Open Ocean Aquaculture (WGOOA) therefore established a need to define the terminology to reduce ambiguity for characterising these types of aquaculture sites or more precisely, to: 1) promote a common understanding and avoiding misuse for different classifications; 2) enable regulators to identify and designate the characteristics of a marine site; 3) allow farmers to be able to assess or quantitatively compare sites for development; 4) equip developers and producers to identify operational parameters in which the equipment and vessels will need to be operating; and 5) provide insurers and investors with better means to assess risk and premiums.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) delineates zones in which States are largely free to regulate aquaculture and other exploitation activities (e.g. inland and territorial waters, exclusive economic zones). Within this framework, different coastal states have developed policies and laws that specifically govern aquaculture. Neither UNCLOS nor national aquaculture laws, however, provide a precise definition of the term “offshore”. Such vague geographical concepts alone cannot aid in identifying, assessing, and geographically pinpointing suitable aquaculture sites.

The metrics of distance from shore and exposure are seen as a range rather than a specific threshold, allowing for a continuum. Distance from shore is readily quantified as distance from the baseline. To rigorously quantify the exposure, six indices were generated, which covered various oceanic parameters (i.e., water depth, water currents, wave height and period). The influence and interaction of the oceanic parameters were all considered using the indices to determine site characteristics. Two indices were selected for utilization on the analysis of sites based on their ease of use and applicability.  

Finally, we applied these indices to their use in aquaculture with different species, technologies and in O&M. We also considered the costs of expanding aquaculture from protected to more exposed sites. The influence of these definitions on socio-economic aspects is addressed. Negative public discourses on the expansion of nearshore aquaculture are one of the most prominent aspects driving public opinion against aquaculture. Expansion of offshore aquaculture out of sight from the coasts is a major advantage. Finally, we suggest necessary research areas to enable the expansion of aquaculture activities to "offshore" and "exposed" waters.

Funding Details

This research has been supported by the institutes of the scientists involved. The resulting 8 publications were compiled within the framework of the WGOOA (Working Group on Open Ocean Aquaculture) of the intergovernmental scientific organisation ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea - Copenhagen/Denmark). Likewise, this project was supported by the OLAMUR project with 25 partners from eight nations dealing with the issues of technical implementation in the wind farms, as well as site selection, LTA performance, environmental monitoring and much more. The OLAMUR project is funded by the European Union under grant number 101094065.