Development of Offshore Aquaculture Technology for Hostile Environments (AQUAOFFTECH)

Duration: 01.05.2000 – 30.06.2001 (14 months)

Coordination: Pescagest (P)

Partners: Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal), Pescagest (Portugal), Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (Portugal), Marintek (Norway) and Helgeland Plast AS (Norway).

Funding Entity: EU - ProgrammeBRITE/EURAM

The aim of the project is to develop offshore aquaculture technologies adapted to hostile environments. The test area will be the Portuguese coast, off Peniche. A marketable prototype cage will be obtained.The consortium partners intend to develop and optimise the technical and economical aspects of cage fish farming in hostile environments. The testing area will be in Peniche - Portugal, over a three-year period. A marketable cage prototype, which may be adapted to various offshore environments, will be produced.The development of marine aquaculture is dependent on identifying offshore grow-out areas because the possibility of finding near-shore protected sites for grow-out cages, is very reduced. In several coastal environments, like the most of the Portuguese coastline, where there are no protected fjords, inlets or bays able to provide good ongrowing conditions and where onshore mariculture faces severe restrictive siting criteria with increasing conflicts with competing coastal resource users, the only alternative is to develop offshore production systems.The traditional gravity or floating net-cage system cannot be placed in exposed, offshore locations due to limits in structural strength and endurance, operation limitations and worker safety.There are many companies who have designed cages to withstand the harsh weather conditions experienced offshore. However, the tailoring of operations to fit a specific environment, may result in significant modifications in some of the most promising plants already tested in other countries.Another concern is with culture methodologies, which may be adjusted and re-thought to fit the specific working conditions. According to several experts, it is imperative that operating and service functions (e. g. stocking, feeding, inventory and grading, monitoring, harvesting, mechanical maintenance etc.) be taken into account before cage designs are fixed and technologies adopted.The objectives of the project are: the minimization and control of environmental impacts; to establish a pioneer production, which can allow new, large and attractive areas to be opened up for fish farming; to establish a realistic and thorough business plan including gear costs, both start-up and ongoing, labor requirements, and sources and cost of capital; to encourage private investment in the sector; the experience and skills of local mariners are a potentiality that we must optimise.

Project Team

Associated Publications