OMC Asia: successful zoning at sea

OMC Asia: successful zoning at sea Aurore Trottet of DHI Water & Environment speaking on zoning and site selection

Although offshore aquaculture seems promising for Singapore and the rest of SE Asia, zoning, licensing and security aspects for planning and management of aquaculture are key to successfully farming fish at sea. The conference’s second session kicked off with a talk on zoning and how this could be applied to site selection.

Based in Singapore, Aurore Trottet of the Environment and Ecology Department at DHI Water & Environment (S) Pte Ltd introduced the audience to some site tools.  With aquaculture being seen as the solution to feeding a growing population in the coming years, Trottet said that for production to develop and reach a sustainable level, it is important to consider the carrying capacity of sites where fish farming is likely to be implemented.

Although mainly looked at in terms of productivity and farmer income, carrying capacity is increasingly involving other aspects such as the impact of production on the ecosystem to ensure that the environment is protected and production is ecologically acceptable.  This can be defined through regulations that focus on areas such as water quality, nutrient concentration and social parameters like the amount of production and what might be considered acceptable for society.

As an example, Trottet introduced a specific project carried out by the DHI in Denmark, a country that has decided to increase its fish production (coral trout) by 25% by 2020. As part of their work to achieve this aim, DHI was hired to do an offshore site selection study and impact assessment involving different parameters, for example spatial constraints. This involved mapping using GIS tools and data from the government and other agencies to determine which parameters, i.e. no shipping routes, were to be considered in order to implement a possible offshore farm.

Production constraints such as water depth, disease, water temperature, waves, osmotic stress and distance to harbours were also mapped and modelled, allowing interested parties to visualize where potential farming sites could be implemented, and obtain a map to narrow down possible areas. Environmental constraints are also essential -- studying the sediment dynamics, eutrophication issues or the depression of the seabed can give a good understand of how sediment behaves before an offshore farm is implemented.

"Denmark's example is a very specific one for the country but the tool can be applied to any fish species, and any kind of region around the world," said Aurore Trottet.

"Such work can be done as long as there is data available. We can obtain that not only from governmenst but also from farmers and such interactions are very, very​ important to ensure that you have a good understanding and a good sharing of what you are looking for, and what you want in terms of aquaculture development. Our tool has been evaluated by international, independent companies and been recognized as a good tool, so we thought it would be interesting to present it today."

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