Carrying capacity protocols developed

Results of a study into carrying capacity have been released Photo: CTAQUA Results of a study into carrying capacity have been released Photo: CTAQUA

Representatives from MIMECCA, a Spanish-led project focused on estimating the carrying capacity of marine aquaculture sites, has convened industry experts to report their findings.

Aquaculture studies focused on site selection and sustainable development are commonplace. However, the environmental, economic and social considerations of carrying capacity have not been included up to now.

“To know the carrying capacity of an aquaculture facility, namely, the optimal amount of fish, molluscs or crustaceans which may be grown in a pond or off shore floating cages helps the sector to develop a sustainable activity, provides economic stability, favours investment and sets the ground to achieve steady and sustainable production levels,” said Maria del Mar Agraso, technical director at the Andalusian Aquaculture Technology Centre (CTAQUA).

MIMECCA has set out specific protocols suitable for semi-intensive marine aquaculture in earthen ponds (South Atlantic littoral) and marine aquaculture in floating cages (Mediterranean littoral). These address technical, environmental and socio-economic factors helping to reduce impact on the environment and improve the local economy.

Two separate schemes were drafted, one from floating cages and one for inland semi-intensive aquaculture. For the former, a model consisting of a minimum production of 50 mT/ha was developed whilst the semi-intensive site had a minimum production of 14 mT/ha.

In the first scheme other factors considered were space arrangement; food conversion; distance between farms; distance to habitats; depth; current; acceptance by the local community and economic investment.

The second model focused on food conversion; decantation area; nitrogen per hectare; employment quality and profitability.

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