WP3 – Ecological footprint of fish farming in coastal areas: identification and response for improved management

Responsible: Thorleifur Agustsson IRIS, Norway

Objectives:

• to identify the knowledge needs concerning the ecological impact of the aquaculture at the selected case study sites in order to meet criteria set by regulators and policymakers;

• to establish guidelines for operators to assess ecological impacts of operations and to suggest new diagnostic tools to improve the quality of information.

In WP3 the aim is to characterize the needs for improved monitoring/diagnostic/detection tools to quantify the ecological impact of aquaculture. A better quantification of ecological impacts allows a more comprehensive evaluation of the ecological footprint of the aquaculture industry. So far, existing methods have been used to describe or quantify specific impacts; now a more holistic approach is required to identify the real carrying capacity of this industry (Venetoulis and Talberth, 2008; Wiedmann and Barrett, 2010, Roth et al., 2000).

A common objective for a sustainable aquaculture is to maintain a dynamic ecosystem as well as adapting to a new and more demanding market where increased revenue and environmental protection go hand-in-hand. For fish-farmers and producers, the drive towards improved sustainability demands flexibility to adapt to economic and ecological pressure; at the same time there is the need to improve knowledge in all aspects concerning the ecological impact of their operations. A review of the state-of-the-art detection methods is necessary to highlight the needs in assessing the ecological, societal and economic impacts of the aquaculture industry (Jones et al., 2014; Ertör and Ortega-Cerdà, 2015).

Current diagnostic methods will be revised and the possibility of utilising new tools evaluated (knowledge exchange with different disciplines). Several scenarios with increasing aquaculture growth will be evaluated and the impacts on the system carrying capacity studied.