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  • Amy Pilsbury


Updated: May 5, 2021

A chapter on Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) from the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA).

Kelp aquaculture (Photo: Kat Wilding)

PhycoMExUK's Mike Allen and Sophie Parsons contributed to the EUMOFA report on the Blue Bioeconomy which provides a comprehensive overview of the blue bioeconomy sector in the European Union. By definition, “blue bioeconomy” incorporates any economic activity associated with the use of renewable aquatic biological resources to make products.

Specifically the team assisted in a chapter discussing the Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA).

'IMTA can be defined as the practice which combines the cultivation of fed aquaculture species (e.g. finfish, shrimp) with organic aquaculture species (e.g. shellfish, herbivorous fish) and inorganic aquaculture species (e.g. seaweed) to create balanced systems for environmental sustainability (biomitigation), economic stability (product diversification and risk reduction) and social acceptability (better management practices).'

(EUMOFA report)

“The practical establishment of IMTA in the aquaculture industry is still in its infancy. There is a lack of understanding of the biology, no models for commerce to take up, no extrapolations to scale and conflicts over space use between users'

(Mike Allen, PhycoMExUK)

Seaweed IMTA represents the future of aquaculture. Seaweed biomass is important for bioenergy production via bioethanol or biogas, as well as acting as a carbon sinks. There are extensive uses for excessive macroalgae which can also solve the issue of problematic blooms such as those seen in the Caribbean.

'The basic mission goals call for: 1) environmental remediation of wastes from finfish farming, and 2) prospects of additional income from the added biomass of the other components.'

(EUMOFA report)

Sargassum bloom, Mexico (Photo: Leopoldo Herrera)

The team also discussed some of the challenges associated with seaweed IMTA.

“Repeat harvesting of seaweed when used in IMTA is not reliable. The experience in practice has been that the first harvest is okay, but after that, it decreases.'

(Mike Allen, PhycoMExUK)

'The development of legislation in UK and Europe calling for 10% of all plastics to be of biological origin may be a driver for seaweed production but, thus far, there has been no full life cycle assessment (LCA) of seaweed culture”

(Sophie Parsons, PhycoMExUK)

There is definitely more to be done on the assessment of blue bioeconomy integrated aquaculture and PhycoMExUK are working hard to address some of the associated issues and find well rounded solutions.

You can read the full EUMOFA report here.

Follow us on twitter @PhycoMExUK

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