Algal bloom forecast system to aid aquaculture industry

Red tide off Portugal. Credit: SAMS Red tide off Portugal. Credit: SAMS

The first harmful algal bloom forecasting system could prevent fish deaths and prolonged closures of aquaculture areas due to toxic HAB events.

The Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Forecast is the first forecast system of its kind and is designed to combine information to provide a weekly alert for fish farmers and regulators in the Atlantic Europe area to warn them of the likelihood of a toxic or harmful event of target species in the following week.

Early warning of severe blooms will give fish and shellfish farmers time to adapt their culture and harvesting practices so as to reduce potential losses.

Led by Dr Julie Maguire from Daithi O'Murchu Marine Research Station in Ireland, the project brings together 11 institutes and SMEs from five European countries along Europe’s Atlantic coast. Each of the partner countries experience HAB problems with prolonged closures - up to 10 months - of aquaculture areas due to toxic HAB events with, in some cases, large losses of farmed fish.

Subject to funding, the system will be fully operationally tested in Shetland in 2014.

The HAB Forecast has been awarded the Best Service Challenge from Copernicus Masters, a European Earth monitoring competition that annually awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data.

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