Site selection analysis and restrictions

Tyler Sclodnick Tyler Sclodnick talked about conducting geospatial analyses to determine whether a site is high or low energy. Credit: Bonnie Waycott

Site selection is an extremely important part of starting an aquaculture venture, said conference chairman Langley Gace as he opened session 5 on day two of the High Energy Mariculture Conference 2018.

His colleague, senior scientist Tyler Sclodnick, echoed this view as he started the session by telling the audience how InnovaSea Systems Inc conducts geospatial analyses to determine whether a site is high or low energy.

Low energy sites offer good access to fish and less wear and tear on infrastructure, but high energy sites have considerable potential, Sclodnick explained. With pristine water, a lot of water flow brings in highly oxygenated water and removes waste, avoids user conflicts and makes it possible for farms to go bigger, deeper and access areas that can be inaccessible due to hurricanes and typhoons.

There was also a focus on what InnovaSea Systems refers to as "duck and cover sites" that have predominantly calm conditions with occasional storms where pens can be submerged. Geospatial analyses are conducted by characterising various parameters such as waves and currents based on whether they are high or low energy environments. They are an extremely useful way of predicting where and how growth will occur, what kind of technology could be prominent in a particular region and what sites could be most effective for offshore farming within a smaller area. From this, farms can establish the most suitable environment for their fish species.

Important for Greece

Aquaculture is one of the main development activities of Greece's primary sector and one of the outward sectors of the Greek economy, as more than 80% of total domestic production is exported. To that end, Ioanna Argyrou of consulting firm NAYS Ltd presented the audience with an example of rational and integrated spatial development of aquaculture in Greece from a legislative point of view.

When selecting a site for offshore operations, significant restrictions are in place related to current and future uses of the region, while recommendations are outlined for site selection, such as avoiding important fishing grounds, scenic and wild life areas, residential infrastructure and touristic or archaeological sites.

Ionna went on to say that the success or failure of an offshore farm, as well as its sustainability, also depends on site selection. There may be a considerable amount of guidelines to follow in Greece, but this "rational thinking in the context of a legal framework can create profitable, innovative and high energy businesses," she continued.

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