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HAVBRUK2-Stort program for havbruksforskning

ECO-AQUACULTURE: towards increasing ecological balance in salmon aquaculture

Alternative title: ØKO-AKVAKULTUR: for å øke økologisk balanse i lakseoppdrett

Awarded: NOK 87,999

Sustainable development or sustainable society-environment interactions entail interacting in ecological balance with the environment. The project ECO-AQUACULTURE-towards increasing ecological balance in salmon aquaculture aims at filling gaps in our knowledge of seafloor ecological functioning impacted by aquaculture that will simultaneously identify new biological indicators of altered functioning. In the absence of national expertise, international collaboration as facilitated by RCN Researcher Mobility program is of mutual importance. Farmed fish is an important source of animal protein for humans and consequently aquaculture is an ever-growing industry worldwide with increasing impact on the marine environment. One major impact of the aquaculture industry is organic matter enrichment of the seafloor. This calls for better understanding of its impacts on different biotic components of the seafloor community that together constitute ecological functioning. NORCE current research (RCN Project: SusOffAqua) contributes to our understanding of the impacts on bacteria and macrofauna (large fauna) and their utility as bio-monitors in Norwegian aquaculture. However, although meiofauna (smaller fauna, especially free-living nematodes) may be resilient and dominant in aquaculture impacted sediment, their diversity response remains unknown. Our visiting researcher brings in this expertise that allow a comparison of nematode species response to other well-known biotic responses and utility as bio-monitors of aquaculture impacted sediments in Norway. Furthermore, his collaboration in NORCE geochemical experiments looking at the dynamics and footprints of aquaculture derived organic matter in sediments will prepare for future similar analysis in Greek fish farms. Understanding these responses in contrasting marine ecosystems: warm Mediterranean versus cold North Atlantic is an important step towards the assessment and mitigation of aquaculture pollution in our oceans

Farmed fish is an important source of animal protein for the global human population and consequently aquaculture is an ever-growing industry worldwide. Norway has a leading position in marine aquaculture sector which will continue to grow with increasing impact on the marine environment. It is therefore important to generate knowledge to ensure the most environmental sound operation of aquaculture facilities possible. Sustainable society-environment interactions entail interacting in ecological balance with the environment. One major impact of the aquaculture industry is the organic matter enrichment of the seafloor. This calls for better understanding of its impacts across the diverse compartments of the sediment community that together constitute ecological functioning. NORCE current research contributes to our understanding of the impacts on macrofauna (large fauna) and microbes and their utility as bio-monitors in Norwegian aquaculture. However, although meiofauna (smaller fauna, especially free-living nematodes) may be resilient and dominant in aquaculture impacted sediment, their diversity response remains unknown due to absence of taxonomic expertise in Norway. Dr Lampadariou will bring in this expertise and for the first time allow a comparison of how meiofauna species responses compare to the other well-known biotic compartment responses and utility as bio-monitors of aquaculture impacted sediments in Norway. Furthermore, his collaboration in NORCE geochemical experiments looking at the dynamics and footprint of aquaculture derived organic matter in sediments will prepare for future similar analysis in Mediterranean fish farms. This is an excellent opportunity to examine ecological functioning in aquaculture impacted seafloors in contrasting ecosystems: the oligotrophic Mediterranean versus eutrophic Norwegian marine ecosystems. Understanding these responses is an important step towards the assessment and mitigation of aquaculture pollution in our oceans.

Funding scheme:

HAVBRUK2-Stort program for havbruksforskning