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Applied simulations and Integrated modeling for the understanding of toxic and harmful algal blooms

Final Report Summary - ASIMUTH (Applied simulations and Integrated modeling for the understanding of toxic and harmful algal blooms)

Executive Summary:
Reasons for the emergent interest in HABs are abundant, including concerns associated with human health, adverse effects on biological resources, economic losses attributed to recreation, tourism and seafood related industries, and the cost of maintaining public advisory services and monitoring programs for shellfish toxins and water quality. In the current economic climate, it was imperative that the activities in this domain were not wasteful or a repetition of previous efforts. New insights needed to be gained in the study of HAB formation and impact on human activities, and the new approaches needed to bring added value in terms of methodologies and results.

In this regard ASIMUTH has developed short term HAB alert systems for Atlantic Europe. This was achieved using information on the most current marine conditions (weather, water characteristics, toxicity, harmful algal presence etc.) combined with high resolution local numerical predictions. This integrated, multidisciplinary, trans-boundary approach to the study of HABs developed during ASIMUTH led to a better understanding of the physical, chemical and ecological factors controlling these blooms, as well as their impact on human activities. The outcome was an appropriate alert system for an effective management of areas that are usually associated with HAB events and where these episodes may have a more significant negative impact on human activities.

Specifically for the aquaculture industry, the information provided enabled farmers to adapt their working practices in time to prevent mortalities in finfish farms and/or manage their shellfish harvest more effectively. This led to the “improvement of European competitiveness and sustainable development” in this area.

Project Context and Objectives:
Project concept and objectives

Harmful Algal blooms act in two main ways: either algae which are directly toxic to marine life or humans can grow and cause direct harm, or algae which are not directly harmful to marine life can be concentrated by filter feeding shellfish, such as mussels. These algae produce toxins which when concentrated in the shellfish and when consumed by humans can lead to serious illness and, on occasion, can be fatal.

These blooms can therefore lead to the loss of stock, which has been estimated to cause losses globally of €200 million in one year. Harmful algal blooms which lead to illness in humans who consume effected shellfish are estimated to give rise to losses in excess of €75 million per year.

Understanding the occurrence and movement of Toxic Algal Blooms is therefore a key commercial/economic factor in marine aquaculture enterprises and in certain marine leisure activities. Planning activities so as to reduce and minimize the commercial impact of such blooms has the potential to save large sums of money for these operators. The consortium of organizations making up the ASIMUTH project believe that the state of the art modelling and forecasting technologies developed within the project, should and can be used to commercially benefit the service providers, providing high value information to aquaculturists and other water users.

Background to development
Over the past few years there has been much discussion of satellites being able to track surface algal blooms. This has resulted in the production of some services that purport to be Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) nowcasts and forecasts. Understanding biological phenomena in the ocean requires a more complex approach than this, though there is some merit in using satellite derived chlorophyll images to delineate high biomass near surface algal blooms. Much cutting edge HAB research work in recent years has focussed on thin layers, where HAB species are present in thin (<1m in thickness) layers of limited geographical extent often associated with strong density interfaces in the water column. Clearly, a HAB forecast needs to factor in changes in water column structure (including likely areas where HAB species will be retained) and transport pathways in order for such a forecast to be realistic. The forecast should also include all available biotoxin, phytoplankton count and bioassay data to support the model forecast and satellite imagery of a bloom.

There is now scope to provide a worthwhile HAB forecasting downstream service to the aquaculture industry using the combined model forecasts, satellite imagery and in-situ networks that the MCS and intermediate users will provide, combined with an array of biological samples collected and the expertise provided by HAB biology experts. The ASIMUTH scientists have rolled out the first realistic HAB forecasting capability as a GMES downstream service to users, in this case the European aquaculture industry along Europe’s Atlantic Margin. The early warning of severe blooms has allowed fish and shellfish farmers to adapt their culture and harvesting practices in time, in order to reduce potential losses and in turn increase their productivity.

The project demonstrated that the physical, chemical and biological drivers, available through the GMES Marine core services and ongoing monitoring, can be used in a risk analysis / forecasting product to enable more successful mitigation of potential negative impacts. This product is of great importance to regulators, monitoring bodies, industry and coastal zone managers throughout North West Europe. Our understanding of the biological, chemical and physical processes that result in Harmful Algal Blooms in the ocean depends on the scope and scale of our observations. Without adequate observational coverage in time and space, we can supplement through mathematical models the mechanisms that produce the patterns we observe. Thus, more emphasis can be placed on achieving greater spatial and temporal resolution of these processes so that physical and biological scientists can by working together detect, predict and respond to events as they reflect imminent forcing mechanisms.

For biologists, physical processes in many cases explain why everything is not everywhere and show that there is spatial and temporal partitioning of the marine ecosystem into many more niches than we often realise. The biology of HABs is critical and often incompletely understood functions must be incorporated into mathematical models designed for predictive management. In the emerging science of the study of HABs, physical scientists and biologists have often worked independently and this project bridged this gap in one of the most important geographical areas of HABs globally, the North East Atlantic.

In developing linkages between physical and biological scientists working in the field of harmful algal blooms the ASIMUTH partnership combined agencies that have a dedicated aim of using novel means in the fields of detection and description of HABs and the management of their impacts. HABs result in huge economic losses in coastal areas of the North East Atlantic. This region has unique and shared problems regarding harmful blooms and their impact on wild and natural fisheries, shellfish toxicity and human illnesses. The problems encountered along this coastal transnational zone are similar, and by networking and combined development, the project provided early warning and improved management strategies towards the impact of HABS with particular focus on the sustainability of wild and farmed finfish and molluscan bivalve fisheries.

The novel scientific aspects of ASIMUTH are summarised as:
1. The identification of key past events which were re-analysed and used for training the modelling system.
2. Incorporation of the GMES Marine Core Services (MCS) with the above selected events and used to develop model based hindcast products. These were used to tune the system and move towards an operational model for forecasting events.
3. Design of regional model systems and delivery of nowcast for specific HABs and location information, transport pathways, remote sensed data.
4. Population of HAB-Distributed Decision Support system (HAB-DDSS) (effectively a HAB specific Thematic Assembly Centre) from relevant data streams (phytoplankton, biotoxin, satellite, in-situ, etc).
5. Provision of expert interpretation of the available data by way of the web-portal which was carried out on a periodic basis depending on risk. This assessment was then issued via a warning system to end users.

Key Benefits
The major benefit of this project is a forecasting system for harmful algal blooms which will lead to improved knowledge in the decision-making process for the sustainable use of marine fish and shellfish resources. Engagement with key governmental and non-governmental groups led to the development of participatory warning systems and subsequent management tools for the restoration and sustainable use of marine ecosystems and their consideration for practical implementation for farms, coastal zone management and conservation authorities.

The project developed innovative models and strategies to improve sustainable utilisation of fish and shellfish by integrating data from different sources including; oceanographic, geophysical, sedimentary, ecological, biological, phytoplankton, bioassay and biotoxin in order to understand the algal bloom functioning and movement so that dynamic models and indicator frameworks were developed. Computer simulation techniques have previously been used to characterise historical blooms and are now employed to integrate data from various sources from the natural environment to forecast significant algal blooms. Given the low cost margins of the aquaculture industry it is vital that low cost, practical and easily applicable systems were developed. Fish and shellfish farmers gain fore-warning of severe blooms which will enable them to adapt their husbandry practices to cope with stressful events in harmony with the surrounding environment. Therefore it is envisaged that the use of such new tools and strategies by SMEs will lead to the practical implementation of the project results.

For shellfish farming there are no strategies currently used to avoid HABs. Bays simply close for harvesting and farmers are left to wait until the bay re-opens before they can harvest again. Sometimes closures can last for many months. As mentioned earlier then production losses occur from prolonged bay closures, because the fully grown shellfish (particularly mussels) can become too heavy for their growing structures and will eventually fall off particularly during winter storms. If an early warning system were available production schedules could be adapted to suit each HAB situation. At the moment no such option is available to shellfish farmers.

For finfish farmers, oxygen depletion in sea cages during an algal bloom event (particularly at night) is a major problem throughout the European and global aquaculture industries. Compressors in particular cannot stay at sea indefinitely as they are not built to withstand sea conditions in the long term, aeration systems are also very expensive and take time to install. So sometimes they are placed at sea when it is already too late. If a warning system was in place the farmers would have time to install systems properly or even be able to tow cages away from the bloom.

In terms of market challenges the aquaculture sector has been and will be increasingly exposed to international competition in the fish and shellfish sector, competition is particularly strong from Asia (China and Japan), South America (particularly Chile), New Zealand and America (Canada and US). However, the development of a warning system for algal blooms and subsequent increased productivity of fish and shellfish through improved management practices would have the potential to increase the supply and eliminate price fluctuations for raw material currently experienced by producers. Thus by sharing the knowledge transferred, the sector would be in a better position to tackle increasing international competition. It is difficult to quantify the potential impact of the warning system and improved practices in absolute monetary terms but we expect that productivity can increase by at least 5% by optimising harvesting schedules and installing appropriate aeration systems. Therefore the long term aim of the project was:
The creation of a financially self-sustainable forecasting system in Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.

Project Results:
Well known harmful and/or toxic phytoplankton that historically have caused mortalities of cultured finfish and/or prolonged closures of shellfisheries in the Atlantic sub-regions were targeted in the model development by each partner. These included the high biomass forming fish killing dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi and the phytoplankton (e.g. Dinophysis spp. and Pseudo-nitzschia spp.) that produce biotoxins harmful to humans when consumed (typically through the vector of biotoxin contaminated shellfish).

In this section we will briefly outline the results of the hindcast model runs and validation which led to them being used for forecasts and eventually the products delivered to the user in each targeted Atlantic sub-region (Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal). Close collaboration between partners was considered important in model development. For example, the Irish model has been used to define the boundary conditions of the Scottish model. Furthermore, model development and maintenance typically involves a large commitment and investment of resources (people and access to high performance computers) at national and European level. The system thus uses the existing national operational models previously developed by the project partners and developed further to include a new HAB functionality.

Use of several regional models brings also the advantage of targeting the HAB species that are most problematic in a given region. Hydrodynamic models were already in place as part of national modelling initiatives for Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal. Modellers focused efforts on model validation and improvement as well as the development of particle tracking capabilities and the biological modules. Scotland was unusual because of the complicated topography of the target region. In this case, a high resolution hydrodynamic and biological model was specifically developed within the framework of ASIMUTH. It is anticipated that all of the models will continue to develop, change and improve into the future.

The scope of the project did not allow for in-depth experimental species-specific model development, so, the biological models describing the behaviour and life-cycle of some HAB species are limited to the use of best available algorithms in the literature. One of the main constraints on the models is the lack of knowledge on many aspects of HAB biological behaviour e.g. sexual reproduction and resting life cycle stages are still unknown for many species. Due to the above, on top of the development of the species-specific models based on both the eulerian approach (e.g. Ireland) and the lagrangian approach (e.g. France) all partners developed a capability for predicting the transport of observed HAB events based on the passive particle tracking. The lagrangian method is deemed a suitable approach as it removes uncertainties associated with simulating a behaviour of toxic species, currently not fully understood. Also, the hydrodynamic models that drive the transport of particles are the operational forecasting models and as such routinely undergo strict validation procedures that allow good confidence in the predicted transport processes. Use of the lagrangian approach aims to provide a reliable and fast short-term forecast of the physical displacement of particles that represent identified potential HAB events and enables the observational system to focus on specific target areas.

Model types used in ASIMUTH
1. Lagrangian models, treat the target species as an inanimate object that floats with water currents. They have the proven ability to track known HAB populations in the wild (Velo-Suárez et al., 2010, Laza-Martínez et al., 2012). They can be quickly used to track movement of HABs between coastal areas in close proximity over short timescales. This approach is also considered important in the ASIMUTH HAB alert system to track bloom progression between adjacent sub-regions (see ASIMUTH Deliverable 3.2 by Dabrowski et al., 2013). These models can be easily run „off-line‟ on saved hydrodynamic fields, typically at time interval of c. 1 hour.
2. Eulerian models that include the behaviour and life-cycle of HAB species are more complex and uncertain for the reasons discussed. When run operationally (e.g. online) they are usually much more computationally expensive compared to lagrangian models.

When fine-tuned, the models (both eulerian and lagrangian) are very powerful tools. The models are limited by the number of processes synthesised and by the quality of the algorithms that synthesis and represent processes in the ocean. In ASIMUTH, expert interpretation is deemed important and so model results are always viewed in parallel with multiple other data streams before a HAB bulletin forecast is generated.

Key Points
1. Operational HAB model forecast systems were developed to predict and track the regional distribution of selected phytoplankton species considered harmful and/or toxic to finfish/shellfish produced commercially by aquaculture industry in the partner countries. An important part of the process was the exchange of information (computer scripts, methodologies, boundary conditions, HAB alert initiated between sub-regions when passive particles enter a neighbour‟s domain etc.) between partners in each EU member state.
2. Tools were established from the hydrodynamic models to forecast physical transport processes associated with the onshore movement of harmful algal blooms.
3. The advance of ASIMUTH is that modelling information in terms of boundary conditions and population data is passed from one model domain to another allowing trans-national alerts and collaboration.
4. The operational system ran from the summer of 2013 and efforts to enhance performance of the models continued throughout the lifetime of the project.


Development of Unstructured Hydrophysical Model and its use in Hindcasting of HAB Events, West Scotland in 2010-2011
A new numerical model based on FVCOM was developed to simulate the hydro-physical processes in the area of western Scotland. The model was a necessary component for the partner bio-geochemical models, studying the development of HAB events. Results of an accuracy test to evaluate the reproduction of the hydro physical parameters of the system are described in detail in deliverable 2.6. A functional group for the most problematic local organisms was added to the model. The model was tested by hindcasting extreme HAB events in Scottish waters during 2010 and 2011. The model performance was essentially improved by including high resolution (hourly) regional meteo-data and implementation of open boundary forcing with using the ROMS model output for the North Atlantic, developed by Irish partners (Marine Institute and Numerics Warehouse) in the ASIMUTH project. The modelling results for summer-autumn 2011 was good in respect to background seasonal signals in temperature and salinity fields, but underpredicted velocities in narrow straits. Further work concentrated in this area and new hindcasts were performed to test how important hydrophysical parameters were for developing of HAB and their spread in the Scottish west coast fjordic environment.

Hindcast model runs and model validation Irish HAB models
Deliverable 2.7 described a new model for an important HAB organism, Karenia mikimotoi, which can have a devastating effect on the coastal fauna of Ireland and elsewhere, and which causes large scale closure of shell fisheries. One such outbreak occurred during 2005 with the peak of the bloom happening mid-July, but with substantial variability in space and time. The report showed results for a model hindcast of Karenia for 2005 and pointed to some improvements that were undertaken in the model. The role of Numerics Warehouse (partner 12) in ASIMUTH was to develop new HAB models for the Irish seas and to implement them as operational forecasts in conjunction with the Marine Institute. The work addressed Scientific Objective 2 of ASIMUTH:- ‘Development of Model Based Hindcast Products’ and Technical Objective 1:- ‘The development of model runs for hindcasting and tuning the system with regard to various HAB species/risks and validation’. The report started with a description of an existing biogeochemical model and how this had been adapted to include Karenia, with a description of the various processes and their implementation here. The model implementation in the NE Atlantic was described and the results of a simulation.

Hindcast model runs and model validation French HAB models
In the frame of ASIMUTH project, two objectives were identified along the French coast. The first one was to provide a reliable tool to forecast bloom trajectories when a Dinophysis sp. or another HABs event was measured (REPHY monitoring program) or detected (Chl-a anomaly provided by remote sensing). The second one was to provide the potential origin of the bloom event according to some particle with an idealized behaviour. By providing this new data set, the model could extract new physical factors that enable algal blooms. Deliverable 2.8 described the validation realised and/or planned for the operational modelling applications with past HABs events in the two target area (Arcachon bay and Vilaine/Loire estuary). This document described the selected past events and the forecasting capacities in each area. All the simulations presented in this document were made with the same hydrodynamic model (MARS3D) but with several configurations based on the operational one (PREVIMER).

Hindcast model runs and model validation Spanish HAB models
Deliverable 2.9 described the model development performed in order to simulate past HAB events. The report described the advances in the model set-up performed during ASIMUTH and also described the tools used and developed for extracting information from models in order to give information of use in the framework of HAB forecasts. The biochemical model is described in detail. The Lagrangian particle tracking simulations performed were also presented.

Hindcast model runs and model validation Portuguese HAB models
Deliverable 2.4 described the modelling applications that were developed to simulate past HAB events on the study sites in Portugal. The model simulations presented were made using the MOHID model operational platform for the West Iberian coast – the Portuguese Coast Operational Modelling System (PCOMS). PCOMS has the structures in place to provide products either for the present day (real-time simulations), short-term forecasts (3 days) or for past events (hindcast).

The deliverable contained a short description of the key HAB events that were selected for the hindcast model applications, a description of the modelling system used in the simulations, an analysis of the results with a critical evaluation of model performance, and some suggestions for further tasks.

Current blooms locations, future bloom locations, and areas of impacts are critical components of a forecast system. The work compiled in deliverable 2.4 though focused on the transport and dispersion of HAB (post-bloom detection), was a critical step towards one of the major outcomes of ASIMUTH, namely, the existence of an alarm system of impending HAB formation. The simulations described in the report start with a possible location for bloom initiation and describe its transport determined by surface currents, and the extent and location of the bloom. In this context, extent is defined as the expansion of the bloom to new areas along the coast.


The forecast bulletin
Each partner country assigned a Harmful Algal Bloom expert to examine all available data in-house and in the HAB-Distributed Decision Support System. The expert’s job was to produce HAB alerts to the aquaculture industry. The alerts were produced in a bulletin (format PDF) and were available on an infrequent basis when a HAB risk was low. A more concerted effort was made when available information suggested a HAB event was expected. Custom-built reports were produced for the target areas in Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland and Scotland. The design and content of these bulletins are presented and described in this report. Past published HAB bulletins can be viewed on the ASIMUTH website (

Current conditions and predictions
Harmful and/or Toxic Algal bloom and biotoxins national monitoring programme data is presented in the forecast bulletins. The products include:
• A whole country biotoxin summary for the last week [whole tissue long-line mussels].
• A whole country HAB report for the last week.
• Forecasted trends in key (PSP, DSP, ASP, YTX, AZA) biotoxins for the following week both for the whole country and in more detail for specific regions, based on expert interpretation of the data set and potential driving factors.
• Biotoxin and HAB distribution maps for the last 4 weeks.
Data is plotted on a weekly basis from week 1 to the current week to allow the user view trends at their site of interest.

Database interrogation techniques
National biotoxin data is published in spreadsheet format, with little consistency in ordering of the data within this sheet between weeks. This makes the data difficult and time consuming to interrogate and interpret. Hence, a database interface was developed that draws toxin and species counts from our national phytoplankton monitoring database and weekly biotoxin report.

The MS access database Interface therefore automates the process of data retrieval by:
• Drawing species counts from national HAB database
• Imports toxin analysis from weekly national biotoxin reports
• Exports counts & toxins data to a formatted Excel workbook by user specified date range (e.g. week)
• Exports counts & toxins data to kml files by user specified date range (e.g. week) allowing their transport to the HAB DDSS

Biotoxin & HAB mapping protocols
• Biotoxin and HAB data file is converted to an ArcGIS SHP file.
• SHP file used in main map
• Specially developed ArcToolbox Python script then used to generate images from map based on current week and 3 preceding weeks
• KML file generated for data transfer to HAB DDSS

Satellite observations
The most up-to-date daily Satellite (data sourced from Copernicus-MyOcean) map is presented to provide large spatial scale information on surface phytoplankton blooms (Chl a measurements). Karenia mikimotoi cell densities from the national dataset are presented alongside the weekly Chl a map.

FVCOM model for simulating the transport of advective HAB species
A new physical modelling framework was developed for the simulation of advective HAB species in the Argyll region of the Scottish west coast. Previous models were based on the POLCOMS framework of a rectangular grid of ~ 6km resolution. This failed to discriminate the topography of the fjordic Scottish west coast sufficiently to allow realistic simulation of particle transport. A new model based on the unstructured finite volume coastal ocean modelling (FVCOM) approach was developed. This uses a mesh of 25001 triangular elements of variable size with 14000 nodes. Horizontal scale is 3931m at the open boundary and 69m in the main narrows and 10 sigma levels. Parameters simulated at nodes are nodes are temperature, salinity, density, and tracers (phytoplankton).

A Smagorinsky scheme is used for horizontal mixing with vertical mixing simulated by the Mellor-Yamada level 2.5 turbulent closure. The model is constrained by state of the art multi-beam bathymetry and forced with UK meteorological office meteo data and wind tunnelling effects from the Weather research and forecasting model run at 1 x 1 km grid on the SAMS cluster. River run of data (28 rivers) is obtained from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Open boundary conditions are obtained from the Irish ROMS model. HAB appearance in the model domain is initiated based on satellite chlorophyll and/or date from the Irish model. Particle (HAB) transport within the domain is based either on lagrangian particle tracking or (where relevant) a similar individual based model of Karenia mikimotoi to that used in the Irish model that makes use of the published literature on the biological modelling of this species.

Current conditions and predictions
Harmful and/or Toxic Algal bloom and biotoxins national monitoring programme data is presented in the bulletin. The products include:
• Biotoxin report for the last week [whole tissue long-line mussels and oysters].
• HAB report for the last week.
• Irish historical trends; What happened this week over the past ten years? 2003-2012 Harvesting closures (biotoxins above regulatory levels).
• Biotoxin prediction for the current week; includes a rationale.
• Biotoxin and HAB distribution maps of importance for the last 3 weeks are presented.
Data is also plotted on a weekly basis from week 1 to the current week to allow the user view upward and downward trends in the national dataset.

Satellite observations
The most up-to-date daily Satellite (data sourced from Copernicus-MyOcean) map is presented to provide large spatial scale information on surface phytoplankton blooms (Chl a measurements) and sea surface temperature (SST). Karenia mikimotoi cell densities from the national dataset are overlayed on a weekly Chl a anomaly map. The composition of near shore phytoplankton communities are described in detail with some highlights for the most recent week. In-situ national weather buoy network data SST for the week in question (includes the weekly anomaly from a ten year mean) is presented alongside the satellite SST maps.

Bantry Bay model
This is a hydrodynamic model of the shelf sea off southwest Ireland with horizontal resolution of 200 – 250m and 20 levels in vertical. It is an application of a widely used primitive equation, free surface, hydrostatic ROMS model and its prognostic variables consist of surface elevation, potential temperature, salinity and water velocities. Number of ASIMUTH-tailored products are derived from the model:
• Prediction of lagrangian water transport from the Mizen Head (south of Bantry Bay) and the Bantry Bay mouth transects based on particles released at surface, 20 m and at bottom
• Prediction of eulerian water transport at the Bantry Bay mouth and inner Bantry Bay transects
• Cross-section through water temperature, salinity and density at Bantry Bay mouth
• Current total volumetric inflow of water into Bantry Bay through cross-section at the mouth and in inner Bantry Bay

North East Atlantic model
The model encompasses all of Ireland’s territorial waters and beyond. It became operational in 2008, and, similarly to the Bantry Bay model is an implementation of ROMS. The model domain covers a significant portion of the North-West European continental shelf and also the Porcupine and Rockall Banks and the Rockall Trough at a variable horizontal resolution, ranging from 1.1-1.6 km in Irish coastal waters to 3.5 km in the south of the domain. There are 40 sigma-coordinate levels in the vertical with a concentration of levels at the surface and the bottom.

Within ASIMUTH, the model is primarily used as the boundary conditions provider for the Bantry Bay model and for predicting the transport of Dinophysis spp. blooms by water currents across the region based on particle tracking (including the inter-regional transport).

Karenia mikimotoi model
The model covers the same domain as the North East Atlantic model, but at a coarser horizontal resolution of c.5 km and with 20 levels in vertical. It is an extension of one of the standard biogeochemical models available in ROMS to include a lifecycle of K. mikimotoi. The model was developed by Numerics Warehouse Ltd. within the framework of the ASIMUTH project and model formulations were based on published literature that includes previous modelling efforts of the species. It has been running operationally at the Marine Institute since early 2013. The model can be easily re-started any time with new concentrations of K. mikimotoi following the discovery of their outbreaks by the observational systems.

Current conditions and predictions
An abstract of the National Monitoring reports (Harmful and/or Toxic Algal bloom and biotoxins) is presented. For the concerned area, the products include:
• A Biotoxin and HAB report for the last 3 weeks
• The origins of the water masses observed by the NMP (15 days)
• The prediction of the bloom advection for the next 3 days.

Satellite observations
Satellite observations (Temperature, Chl-a , suspended matter, sea surface height) are not included into the bulletin but some links are provided to have an access to all the information available over the area (Previmer webpage).

Hydrodynamic model
MARS3D software was used. It uses a classical methodology with primitive equation, free surface, hydrostatic model and a regular horizontal grid. Prognostic variables consist of surface elevation, potential temperature, salinity and water velocities. The hydrodynamic model was validated over the French shelf. The water masses prediction were done with this model by using Lagrangian particles. A link to all the model results (currents etc …) are available by the same link that satellite observations.

Current conditions and predictions
Harmful and/or Toxic Algal bloom and biotoxins national monitoring programme data are analysed.

Satellite observations
The most up-to-date daily Satellite (data sourced from Copernicus-MyOcean) map is presented to provide large spatial scale information on surface phytoplankton blooms (Chl a measurements) and sea surface temperature (SST).

In-situ physical data
Thermosalinometer temperature, salinity and florescence measured by the thermosalinometer on board the research vessel performing weekly HAB monitoring in Galician Rias Baixas provides information on freshwater in the rias and of penetration of shelf waters. Results from different routine monitoring cruises are used to get information on oceanographic conditions (stratification, location of fronts...).

Upwelling index
Upwelling indexes are routinely computed in different locations along the Iberian coast. Forecasts and plots of the evolution in the present month and in previous months and years are distributed in the web page UI is computed from different data: buoys, operational and hindcast atmospheric models and constitutes a product of interest for the analysis of oceanographic conditions influencing HABs.

Model of the W and N Iberian shelves
We run a configuration of the ROMS model that provides operationally water temperature and salinity, surface elevation, currents and fluxes with a 3day forecast horizon. In a pre-operacional configuration we obtain nutrients, chlorophyll, phytoplankton and zooplankton.

The operational grids are a 4 km Iberian grid and a higher resolution 1.3 km grid in the Galician coast. The pre-operacional ecological configuration developed during ASIMUTH has a resolution of 3.5 km and extends to the Frensh shelf. The ASIMUTH model-based products are:
• Temperature, salinity, currents and chlorophyll are shown in shellfish harvesting areas in the Galician shelf and rias.
• Eulerian predictions of inflow-outflow into-out of the Galician rias where most of the aquaculture takes place as well as Eulerian predictions of along-shore transport in several cross-sections on the northern Portuguese shelf.
• Lagrangian particle-tracking simulations are run when the alert system is activated. Routinely, Lagrangian simulations are used for estimating along-shore transport from the northern Portuguese shelf and to explore flows between the rias and the shelf. Additionally, when a HAB event appears in one ria, Lagrangian experiments are run to predict the extension of the HAB event to other rias.

Current conditions and predictions
Harmful and/or Toxic Algal bloom and biotoxins national monitoring programme data is presented. Several near shore satellite stations along the Portuguese coast are weekly sampled throughout the year. The products include:
• Biotoxin report for the last week.
• HAB report for the last week.
• Potentially impacted areas for the current week.
• Actual oceanographic conditions derived from remote sensing data (surface temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration).

Satellite observations
The most up-to-date daily Satellite (data sourced from Copernicus-MyOcean) map is presented to provide large spatial scale information on surface chlorophyll-a and sea surface temperature (SST).

Model results
The Portuguese Coast Operational Modelling System (PCOMS) is a forecast system based on the MOHID model. The PCOMS is running in full operational mode and produce daily hydrodynamic and biogeochemical results for the previous day and three days forecast for the Western Iberia Coast. The modelling system consists of two nested domains covering the Iberian Atlantic coast and its adjacent ocean. The domain 1 is a barotropic model, with a 0.06⁰ resolution, forced with the FES2004 global tide solution along the ocean boundary.

The domain 2 model is a downscaling of the Mercator-Océan PSY2V4 North Atlantic solution that run the Mohid model in full baroclinic mode with a horizontal resolution of 5.6 km and with 50 vertical levels (43 in Cartesian and 7 in sigma coordinates). Its prognostic variables consist of surface elevation, potential temperature, salinity and water velocities. A number of ASIMUTH-tailored products are derived from the model:
• Prediction of eulerian water transport;
• Prediction of lagrangian transport of particles along the coast to estimate the dispersion of HAB in affected areas;
• Prediction of the thermal structure of the ocean;
• Prediction of the chlorophyll (still in a preliminary phase).


Forecast of inter-regional movement of HAB organisms
KML was the file format used for this task. It can display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth. KML is based on the XML standard so it uses a tag-based structure with nested elements and is readable as an ASCII file by any simple text editor (e.g. Notepad or Wordpad). The model output for particle positions contained time-varying positional information, which also included depth below surface. Since there was the possibility of variable depth in the model output it made sense to include this as a parameter. For ASIMUTH, it was also necessary to include the name of the HAB species modelled.

The following information pertaining to modelled particle tracks was included in the file: Timestamp (changing), Longitude (changing), Latitude (changing), Depth (static or changing) or Species (static). Furthermore, the following metadata was required and has been included in the KML files: The organisation that generated the model output, Forecast start time, Forecast end time, Time step (how often particle position is updated), Number of time steps and Number of particles modelled. A technical report setting the standard KML file structure for the ASIMUTH project took into account all the above requirements was distributed among the partners along with a set of MATLAB scripts that enabled generation of a KML file from the model output.

The HAB-DDSS system, hosted at Starlab, checked every 24 hours if there was any new KML files uploaded to a dedicated ftp server by the partners. If a new file was found it was processed and stored in a database for display on the ASIMUTH web portal. The file was also scanned by the system, which read the positions of all particles and if necessary an e-mail alerting other relevant ASIMUTH partner(s) was automatically generated.

The Harmful Algal bloom Distributed Decision Support System (HAB DDSS):
The harmful algal bloom distributed decision support system (HAB DDSS) is a web portal which displays data in a standardised and easy-to-understand format to ease the creation of an alert system to be used by experts. The web portal of the HABDDSS brings together models, in situ and satellite data from the different partners of the ASIMUTH project under one same web environment, accessing this data in a distributed form. The portal's main use is the possibility of displaying the different kinds of data relevant to HABs in a superposed manner, so the experts who use the portal can extract added value from this combination of different data. The portal also allows experts to inform of any interesting observations (i.e. detection of dead fish at sea or water coloration changes), by adding georeferenced RSS alerts (like tweets) in the portal.

The ASIMUTH App will adapt the content of the HAB DDSS portal to allow it to be displayed in portable devices such as tablets and smartphones. The portal will detect the type of device that the portal is being accessed from and adapt the display of the portal according to the device detected. This way, experts will be able to use the portal while they are away from the office environment as well as provide RSS alerts of HABs and other related phenomena detected using the location services of their tablet or smartphone.

Nowcasting using remote sensed data
During the ASIMUTH project, research was conducted on the possibility of detecting algal blooms from satellite data. Using different types of neural networks, the model developed managed to detect algae presence. Two different locations were tested, Ireland and France, using datasets provided by the Marine Institute and IFREMER. The results showed that the trained models provided good performances while run over data from the same localization for which they were trained. However, results also show that when a model trained with data from localization A is run over data from localization B the performance dramatically decreases. This indicated that the numerical methods used to develop the models are able to learn to correctly detect algae in a location, but they are not so able to generalize such detection to new unknown localizations. That implies that, in order to obtain a model able to detect algae in a new localization, it will be required to re-­‐train the model with historical data from that same new localization.

Comparing procedures taken in and results obtained from both, Irish and French datasets we can observe that the quality of the input data is key in order to obtain good performance with the employed numerical methods. While the data in Irish waters presented an important percentage of outliers, the percentage of outliers on French waters was negligible. Following up this differentiation, the requirement of filtering outliers from Irish waters can be noticed, while such filtering was not required in order to obtain good performance with French waters data.

Although the results are considered successful as a first approach, the fact that algal blooms are a problem mostly close to the coast poses a challenge for the effectiveness of this model, due to the low resolution EO data available currently (1km pixel size). The future existence of better resolution data from the Sentinel suite of satellites represents an opportunity for further research and development.

Data was compiled on the effect of HAB events on aquaculture production. Information came from published literature, exploiting established networks and the extensive experience of Partner 1 who have sister companies who own salmon farms, mussel farms and a shellfish processing plant. In addition, surveys of European SME aquaculture producers was undertaken at the Annual General Meetings of the aquaculture national associations of the participating countries. Techniques included site visits, telephone interviews and literature reviews. Finally, an initial questionnaire was developed and distributed which gathered details of various issues associated with HAB mitigation and stock management. Details of the this questionnaire can be found in Deliverable 5.1. Information presented included extent and timing of HAB events, loss of stock due to mortality, cost of prevention, strategies currently used and problems associated with current strategies. Information gathered also defined acceptable performance criteria for the forecast mechanism.

Thirty two end-users filled out the initial questionnaire. Generally, the fish farmers expressed a desire for a HAB forecast to help in decision-making so as to minimize mortalities and financial impacts on their farms. They agreed that the advance notice would be of benefit, both in terms of improved supply logistics (i.e. ability to manage their customers’ needs) and increased productivity/reduced mortalities. Respondents agreed that having notice of impending HABs would allow exploitation of mitigating strategies currently unavailable, stating that a bloom forecast would allow “market management” measures. The example of a previous bloom, which resulted in almost 100% clam mortality at a particular facility, was given to highlight one candidate’s experience. In that instance it would have been better to sell the product at a significantly lower market price, before the HAB had arrived, rather than losing all of the stock to mortalities.

The minimum amount of time questionnaire-respondents said would be necessary to exploit a forecast varied between two to three days, and four days to one week. Interviewed aquaculturists requested a two-week HAB forecast where possible, however, they conceded that this may be impossible so would settle for a 2-3 day forecast. Such warning periods, were said to be either quite beneficial or very beneficial; allowing forward market planning in terms of price, and allowing product withdrawal from culturing areas. Given the variety of factors affecting shellfish and finfish production and trade (high mortality rates, water quality, diseases, regulations, logistics, etc), respondents considered it very important to know and predict as many of these factors as possible for effective management. All respondents agreed that advanced knowledge of HABs, through proposed ASIMUTH services, would greatly add to their management knowledge.

In addition, the results of the questionnaires indicated that no respondent had established protocols in place to mitigate HAB damage when a bloom is known to be imminent (harvesting and selling stock quickly before the HAB’s arrival). Similarly, none of the respondents have protocols in place to deal with damage once the HAB has arrived as they think it is too late to do anything. Additional capabilities requested from the end-user interviews included:
1. The species/toxin present and severity;
2. The risks associated with the species/toxin; and
3. A prediction of the bloom dynamics over time.

The alert system should include a prediction of where a bloom is “likely” to occur and also include when a bloom has occurred in neighbouring regions. This first notification of a “likely bloom” should be sent by text. A short bulletin could be sent by email or be made available to download. For further information, fish farmers could access a web portal. The web portal should include:
1. An on-line mapping tool so that farmers can zoom in to their area;
2. Data on phytoplankton levels and toxin concentrations;
3. Analysis of the current state and outlook for the next few days;
4. An ability to query data by parameter and time period as defined by the farmer;
5. Integrated satellite images (if possible but not essential).

The farmers interviewed said that it was more important that the forecast was “precise and timely rather than pretty” so would substitute non-essential information and settle for basic text as time was of the essence. The farmers also said that it was more important that the forecasted bloom movement and the development of a new or existing bloom was communicated as quickly as possible to all interested parties. They also stressed the importance of the reliability of the alert, but understood that the forecast would not always be correct so would be happy with a success rate of >80%.

Users were consulted throughout the project. They monitored how the various activities (research, development, demonstration, system implementation, service validation and data position) traced back to the user requirements that were defined above at the start of the project. This feedback was used and integrated into the new service provided. In doing so it demonstrated the acceptance level of the service as well as integration into the users working methods and resulting decision-making process.

Based on the results of the initial survey the prototype forecast and bulletin were developed. It was tested, analysed and edited by end-users before it went live. Afterwards a second questionnaire was circulated in order for the users to make suggestions for improvement of the forecast and bulletins. A final user requirements report (Deliverable 5.6) was delivered at the end of the project.

The results were based on 23 respondent who were all fish farmers. The results showed that 80% of the users of the bulletin were currently using the information to make decisions related to their farms. The type of decisions being made varied from when to treat salmon for amoebic gill disease (AGD) to decisions on bivalve larval rearing. However, the main use of the bulletin was concerned with harvest planning and the best time to place shellfish on the market. 93% of the survey respondents felt that the forecast contained enough information to make it a useful tool and none of them felt that the bulletin contained any unnecessary information or information which was not useful.

When considering the minimum timeframe for a short-term forecast to be of use to them, the majority (88%) of respondents felt that between three days and one week was sufficient. This timeframe allows aquaculturists to plan their harvesting in such a way that avoids mortalities and financial losses. When asked to rate the ASIMUTH HAB forecasting system overall, 67% of respondents felt it was “good” or “very good” with the remainder (33%) rating it “excellent.” 90% of questionnaire respondents would find a long term or seasonal forecast beneficial for a number of reasons: Planning; Marketing; Harvesting; Production plans; Showing trends; Identifying triggers. However, they also had concerns with the accuracy of such predictions. One respondent stated that if a more long-term forecast was to be developed “these predictions should be accompanied by the probability of their accuracy.”

The high levels of positive responses from the questionnaire suggested that the ASIMUTH bulletin it is a tool which aquaculturists and industry found beneficial in planning and decision making.

Potential Impact:
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been increasing in prevalence throughout Europe for the past 30 years to the point where they occur along most coastlines and are common in many places. Moreover, the movements of such blooms are difficult to predict at present — they can move across large areas, subject to changing climatic and environmental conditions. The impacts of these blooms are felt in many ways: human health is placed at risk; they can cause mortalities in marine animals; ecosystems are altered; marine mammals are injured or killed; and the fishing, aquaculture, and recreation industries suffer substantial economic losses.

Forecasting is necessary to enable an alert time of 2-5 days prior to a bloom to provide opportunities for mitigation, provide notification for coastal managers to reduce public risk, minimize the risk to endangered and protected species, educate the public to reduce the potential for collateral damage, and enable the relocation and protection of aquaculture resources.

The ASIMUTH forecast is prepared by the biologists in each partner country. The forecast results from a combination of information gathered from model predictions, satellite imagry, in-situ networks and, biological and chemical data collected at nationally monitored sites. Each forecast is based on the expert opinion of the biologists who assess the available information at the time of publication. The HAB bulletin is uploaded to the ASIMUTH website ( as a PDF document.
Our forecast system will enable aquaculturists to:
• Optimise ongrowing and harvesting techniques to reduce mortality due to anoxia and/or allow farmers time to harvest (particularly shellfish) before a prolonged closure and thus enhancing productivity
• Increase efficiencies, production and sales by optimizing harvesting schedules and reducing mortalities in fish farms
• Save money and maximize their resources by avoiding such losses
• Remove the guesswork involved in when bay closures will occur so that farmers can make informed choices
• Plan husbandry work in relation to future bloom or non bloom events
• Reduce errors in husbandry practices and harvesting schedules
• Reduce downtime for processors if product can be stockpiled in advance before the onset of a bloom
• Improve the service to their customers with a more reliable supply of product

In addition for government agencies and scientists the forecast system will provide them with time to plan their sampling schedule more efficiently particularly when a severe or unusual bloom is expected.

The benefits of the forecast were demonstrated from the results of the surveys from the end-user requirements reports (Deliverable 5.1 and 5.6) that showed that aquaculturists were almost entirely in favour of a forecast for harmful algal blooms. Generally, the aquaculturists expressed a desire for a HAB forecast to help in decision-making so as to minimize mortalities and financial impacts on their farms. The aquaculturists agreed that the advance notice would be of benefit, both in terms of improved supply logistics (i.e. ability to manage their customers’ needs) and increased productivity/reduced mortalities. Respondents agreed that having notice of impending HABs would allow exploitation of mitigating strategies currently unavailable, stating that a bloom forecast would allow “market management” measures. The example of a previous bloom, which resulted in almost 100% clam mortality at a particular facility, was given to highlight one candidate’s experience. In that instance it would have been better to sell the product at a significantly lower market price, before the HAB had arrived, rather than losing all of the stock to mortalities.

Obviously, the best confirmation of benefits is the uptake of the forecast. The forecast is now currently live for all countries. So the best measure of success is the numbers of visitors to the website. The visitors to the website have significantly increased since the summer of 2013 when the forecasts went live. In 2013 the website received an average of 837 unique visitors per month however since the forecasts went live this average increased to 1110 unique visitors per month. Finally in further recognition of the benefits of the forecast, the online audience of the Copernicus Masters website has voted the ASIMUTH HAB Forecast – as this year’s most beneficial Earth-monitoring service for European citizens.


The economic cost of HABs has proved difficult to quantify particularly for the shellfish industry. However, Hogland & Scatasta (2006) estimated the cost was $82 million per year in the US alone. However, this includes costs associated with high biomass blooms caused by pollution and also monitoring costs. The Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen has estimated that mortalities of 8,000 tonnes of fish per year are caused by catastrophic events such as algal blooms (website with a cost of $35.6 Million). The economic cost of the Karenia and Chatonella blooms of 2005 and 2006 which resulted in mass mortalities of caged fish in the Atlantic and North Sea remains to be quantified but has forced the closure of some marine finfish farms (Silke et al. 2005, Davidson et al. 2009). A similar bloom in Hong Kong in 2003 caused economic losses from mortalities in finfish farms of $40,000,000 (Lu and Hodgkiss 2004). Such incidents are sporadic, largely unpredictable and may seriously disrupt production plans of fish farms. Stolte et al. (2003) reported that 6% of harmful algal blooms cause fish mortality.

Such unpredictable blooms also add production costs through increased insurance deductibles. In general, if best practice protocols are not in place and mortalities occur, the insurance company will not pay. If protocols are partially in place the insurance company will pay only 60% of the loss to stock. They consider aeration as a key role in “best practice protocol” (Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Co. Ltd.). Another outcome is that these mortalities require to be disposed of by rendering, incineration or by burial in controlled landfill, none of which is readily available in the remote pristine areas where fish farms are commonly based. Lack of approved disposal options has led to stockpiling in Norway (website

Similarly, naturally occurring phytoplankton blooms have been responsible for acute mortalities of fish world wide; in Canada (Rensel et al. 2010), Malaysia (Teen et al. 2012), United Arab Emirates (Richlen 2010), India (Robin et al. 2013) New Zealand (MacKenzie et al. 2011) and Scotland (Davidson et al. 2009). Several types of phytoplankton may be responsible ranging from diatoms (Bruno et al. 1989) to dinoflagellates (Simonsen et al. 1993). Direct adverse effects on fish include physical irritation of the gills and excess mucus production leading to blood hypoxia and anoxia. Deoxygenation has been suggested as effecting mortalities in Ireland (Parker, 1982) and in Norway (Dahl & Tangen 1993). If an early warning system for blooms were in place it would give producers a chance to change their husbandry practices i.e. install oxygenation systems, move their stock, harvest their fish earlier etc. in order to minimise losses and waste and increase production.

Similarly, endemic shellfish harvesting closures, mainly caused by Dinophysis, have been the principal problem for the participating ASIMUTH countries in recent years. These are low biomass HABs, not traceable with colour images; but satellites and models can forecast movements of the water masses where they are, especially the long-shore transports well known in Iberia and Ireland. For example in autumn 2013, following a long period of harvesting bans due to D acuminata, Galician monitoring managers and shellfish growers were caught by surprise by a very sudden bloom of D. acuta. This could have been easily avoided if information on monitoring data (cell counts of D. acuta) and running of transport models had been exchanged in a “real time” transnational coordinated manner (we know if there is a peak of D. acuta in Aveiro, Portugal in August-September, sure it will come to Galicia at the end of the upwelling season, and the speed could be estimated with the models). Tonnes of mussels that had already been processed and exported the previous days had to be destroyed because they already had toxins above regulatory levels.

The importance of the European aquaculture industry to peripheral regions in Europe cannot be overstated. Since the European industry is more heavily regulated than most of its competitors, it is essential that production schedules are maintained to secure profitability. Production losses occur from bay closures, because the fully grown shellfish (particularly mussels) can become too heavy for their growing structures and will eventually fall off particularly during winter storms. If an early warning system were available production schedules could be adapted to suit each HAB situation. Before ASIMUTH no such option was available to fish and shellfish farmers.

In terms of the potential to have a negative financial impact on the mussel industry biotoxins out-rank all other industry issues (Review of the Irish Rope Mussel Industry, BIM, 2006). The impact can be seen in terms of loss of output as a result of bay closures. Closures in the partner countries were described in Deliverable 5.1. The unpredictability of these algal blooms closures can seriously disrupt production plans and processors find it increasingly difficult to satisfy customers with a constant supply of product.

If we follow the logic used by Stolte et al. (2003), we can estimate the impact of HABs on shellfish aquaculture in terms of lost revenue. This is estimated by multiplying the number days harvest closure by the average revenue per day in the three years before a HAB event (Anderson et al. 2000). Using FAO shellfish aquaculture data our estimate of the economic impact of HABs on farmed shellfish was $840 Million from 2000 to 2010 which was an annual value of $76.4 Million. This yearly average represents 7% of the total value of the shellfish sector. It is higher than the average yearly economic impact of HABs on shellfish aquaculture in the US which was $15 million (Stolte et al. 2003). However, Europe produces 37% of the world’s mussels (which are the most impacted species when it comes to harmful algal blooms).

Through ASIMUTH we aim to reduce the losses caused to the mussel industry, by at least 12.5% in our target countries (Ireland, UK, France, Spain and Portugal). It is important to note that this figure is a modest estimation. If we also take savings of 12.5% of losses to the salmon industry in these countries, the potential savings are $5,444,734.


Deliverable 5.3 describes the food safety hazards of biotoxins in shellfish. Details are given for: Hydrophilic toxins which can manifest as Amnesic or Paralytic Shellfish Poisons and Lipophilic toxins producers of Diarrhoeic, Neurotoxic or Azaspiracid Shellfish Poisons. The methods of analysis are described for the detection of toxins; bioassays, liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography with either diode array detection or fluorescence detection. The hazard of the emergence of novel biotoxins is described along with the increasing distribution of biotoxins. The overall assessment is that the ASIMUTH forecast system will not replace real time detection but can aid in highlighting areas that require extra analysis during a harmful algal event. Therefore it may help to improve the efficiency of the National Monitoring Programmes for toxin testing in each country. The ASIMUTH system will therefore have a beneficial effect on food safety assessment practices.


o The spatial data, forecast model and scenarios are available on the internet.
o The forecast system developed is a marketable tool, therefore the partners will commercialise the technology. A detailed business plan has been developed for the continuation of service.
o Prototypes, products and services from the project will be specified and certified.
o Primary exploitation will be by farmers using the forecast and management recommendations to improve farming practices and make informed choices.
o Engagement with governmental and non-governmental actors ensured that project results will contribute to management tools for the sustainable use of resources and their implementation into policy decisions.
o Partners will be expected to seek exploitation opportunities within their sectors.
o Training tools such as the guidelines, will be exploited by being made available free to any organisations that requires them.
o Dissemination of information was made through trade shows, research conferences and workshops, newspapers and journals and direct contact with companies and industry workshops.
o The actual warning of a severe harmful algal bloom event will be sent to participating stakeholders via SMS message this was considered to be the fastest media form to get the message to the target audience. A web-page can subsequently be accessed for further information.

During the project, the consortium monitored the current state of the art and market evolution. Standard project management tools were used to evaluate results and potential markets. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analyses was carried out and was included in the business plan document. A strategic positioning of project results within the market place, user community and general public were planned based on results, these are also included in the business plan.

How will ASIMUTH become sustainable commercially?
A detailed business plan was developed mid-way through the project. It was updated at the end of the project and included a:
• Business Description (Promoters, shareholders and Board, Products and services, Long Term Aim of Business, Objectives and S.W.O.T. Analysis).
• Market Analysis (Target market, Total market valuation, Targeted share, Market trends, Profile of competitors, Competitive advantage and Benefits to clients)
• Marketing/Sales Strategy (Income sources, Pricineg, Advertising and Promotion and Sales Strategy)
• Research & Development (Patents, copyrights and brands, Technology roadmap and Future R&D)
• Financial Projections (Key Assumptions, Staffing and Operations, Profit and Loss Accounts, Balance Sheets and Cashflow Projections, Sales Pipeline and Funding Requirements).

Version V0 of the ASIMUTH System was implemented in the mid phase of the project. Refinements were made throughout the project duration resulting in a V1 release in the summer of 2013. The project partners are actively involved in HAB monitoring in their respective countries at present. The skills acquired and the integration of the various data sources has improved national capabilities to monitor and forecast HABs. Version 2 of the ASIMUTH System was made available to interested parties through the National agencies (including many of the project partners) who implemented the ASIMUTH system in their respective countries. For the moment, these national agencies will continue to provide the forecast service after the project end. This will be done with the aid of the SME partners involved in the ASIMUTH project. However, the long term aim of the business is : The creation of a financially self-sustainable forecasting system in Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.

Who will cover service costs?
Currently, ongoing service costs will be met by the individual agencies who have budgets for HAB monitoring and forecasting in their respective countries. However, the demand for the service is so great that the user communities would be willing to pay a fee to also cover costs (user requirements report). Details of the costs and associated pricing strategy are given in the business plan; however, the average price quoted for the service is approximately €200 per anumn per site.

What body will carry out services when the project ends?
The promoters of ASIMUTH Ltd. are the key institutions who have developed the forecast products and models in the project and who will continue to run these forecast services operationally, bringing their special and local expertise to the company. The details of the promoters and shareholders can be found in the business plan.

However, the ASIMUTH project consortium cannot guarantee the supply of products from the Marine Core Service as it is beyond their sphere of influence. However, the widely held view is that the Marine Core Service will be continued (through a mechanism yet to be defined) after the MyOcean project is complete. The ASIMUTH partners (national agencies for current HAB monitoring and participating SMEs) will carry out the provision of the proposed downstream service as long as the Marine Core Service products are available.

Management of intellectual property
The IP agreement was outlined in a consortium agreement that and signed by all the partners. The IP generated and not reliant upon existing know-how shall be owned jointly by the partners. The Exploitation Manager (Joe Silke, Marine Institute) will lead the development of the exploitation plan and ensure that this is regularly updated; this action will be supported by the other partners. In general, the partners will respect individual ownership of IP established before the project co-operation. Where new IP was developed based on a combination of pre-existing know-how and the project results a division of the IP will be made reflecting the contributions of the partners to the knowledge. The management and distribution of rights is described within the consortium agreement and decisions regarding the strategy for protecting knowledge as it is developed is made by the Steering Committee (where each partner has one vote each).

Intellectual Property legal protection mechanisms are currently being investigated. The Exploitation Manager was responsible for detecting the results to be protected. The Steering Committee approved and decided by whom they should be protected (especially in case of joint ownership) and how, in respect of the contract and consortium agreement. Legal protection of Intellectual Property (IP) is a key item for ASIMUTH. All results were monitored and tracked to check if a legal protection could be relevant, depending on the participants’ strategy (to secure R&D investment and participants’ exploitation strategy or to license for revenue).

A logo has been developed and depending on the level of sales the consortium may register the trademark in the future. We also want to market our brand as reliable and accurate in order to protect ourselves from any competition in the future.

Technology roadmap
Each country involved (Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain and Portugal) will produce their own forecast for their own country. However, since HABs do not respect national boundaries the specific country team will notify the other members if a bloom is heading out of their jurisdiction into another. The national teams are:
Ireland: Daithí O’Murchú Marine Research Station, Marine Institute & Numerics Warehouse Ltd.
Scotland: Scottish Association of Marine Science
France: IFREMER & Hocer
Spain: Instituto Espanol de Oceanografia & Starlab
Portugal: - Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera & Instituto Superior Técnico

Refinements will be made to the forecast system as new bloom events occur. The partners are actively involved in HAB monitoring in their respective countries at present. The aspiration of ASIMUTH is that the constant integration of the various data sources will improve national capabilities to monitor and forecast HABs.

Future R&D
This project will provide the intellectual (forecasting system) and physical (improved husbandry practices) tools to enable the emerging aquaculture sector to base its business on the most suitable, techniques and sustainable management practices. Once this has been achieved this project could be used as a template for prediction of movement of other species such as jellyfish, various zooplankton species etc.

Asia remains the leading region of the world for shellfish aquaculture and has developed its shellfish aquaculture sector extremely quickly. Latin and North American aquaculture also face similar issues that are increasingly important as the production capacity increases. The application of advanced predictive models and methodologies in this sector will lead to improved performance of fish and shellfish production and will improve the sustainability of this rapidly-developing sector. Contacts will be made with representative organisations such as NACA (Network of Aquaculture Centres of Asia) and the GAA (Global Aquaculture Alliance) so that the positive results of the project can be interpreted and applied throughout world aquaculture.


We developed a website which houses all the project outputs including the weekly forecast bulletins. It acts as a central database allowing all members of the consortium to access and edit any documentation, minutes, reports, presentations, technical data or agreements via the confidential platform. The public platform of the website displays the project’s approach, objectives, results, methodology and advantages of the project. During the summer of 2013 the forecast bulletins were also published on the website. In 2013 the website received an average of 837 unique visitors per month however since the forecasts went live this average increased to 1110 unique visitors per month. Immediately following publication of the forecast bulletins we disseminated the HAB warning system to the industry through trade literature and industry meetings.

In addition, we have used other internet web pages and other forms of social media to inform industry of the project and the forecast. Appropriate results and information was presented in the scientific, industry and public literature, at conferences and workshops. A list of attendances and publications is given on the participant portal of the REA. This has comprised of 138 individual dissemination activities and can be viewed in Deliverable 6.6. European GMES e-networks, aquaculture programmes and virtual marine resources were also exploited

We created a booklet whereby research results, guidelines and recommendations were explained in non-technical language and made available to the user communities through the web and through hard copies. The book contains an overview of the project including an explanation of;
• What harmful algal blooms are
• How the forecast works using data from monitoring programmes, remote sensing and various models.
• A description of the HAB DDSS
• The forecast bulletin and how to use the results
• The benefits of using the forecast

Where appropriate, adaptation of European Codes of Conduct or Codes of Practice may be adapted as a function of results. A three page initial briefing document was updated and submitted as Deliverable 6.8 “Final briefing document for policy makers”. It includes the ASIMUTH relevance to the; Marine Strategy Framework Directive, GMES policy and Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE).

Trade exhibitions and trade-literature were also used for promoting results. The research partners have/will publish scientific results through international academic journals and technical magazines. In addition the partners will publish papers through a special issue of Harmful Algae in 2014. The list of papers in preparation is as follows.

Introductory paper
Approaches to Modelling Harmful Algal Blooms - Davidson, Anderson, Mateus, Reguera, Silke, Sourisseau

Studying Gymnodinium catenatum blooms in the West Iberian coast (2009) using a lagrangian modelling approach - Mateus et al

Modelling the dispersion of a Dinophysis acuminata bloom (July 2011) in the Southern Portuguese coast - Mateus et al

Towards the forecast of Dinophysis blooms initiation off NW Iberia: a decade of events -
Moita et al.

Population dynamics and toxicity of Pseudo-nitzschia blooms along the South Iberian Coast - Silva et al.

Studying the coastal dynamics in the Bay of Biscay to determine the main pathway of Dinophysis acuminata contaminations. - Berger, Sourisseau, Lazure, Jouan & Petton

Distribution and separation with satellite products of two Dinophyceae producing high biomass blooms over the French shelf. - Sourisseau, Gohin, Klet, Lunven & Bryere

Hindcasting the oceanographic conditions affecting autumn dinoflagellate HABs in West and Northwest Iberia. - Cobas, Ruiz-Villarreal, García-García, Moita & Reguera

Dinophysis acuminata blooms and the winter-spring transition in the Galician shelf and rias. - Ruiz-Villarreal, García-García, Cobas, Díaz, Pazos, Escalera & Reguera

Time series of Dinophysis acuta and the role of thermal stratification in the occurrence of exceptional summer blooms. - Díaz, Ruiz-Villarreal, Moita, Pazos & B. Reguera

HAB warning system for Bantry Bay, Ireland. Part I: description and validation of an operational forecasting model. - Dabrowski, Lyons, Nolan, Cusack & Silke.

HAB warning system for Bantry Bay, Ireland. Part II: ASIMUTH-tailored model products, observations. - Cusack, Silke, Dabrowski, Lyons & Nolan

Can we predict the progression of Karenia mikimotoi blooms off the Irish coast? - Silke, Cusack, Dabrowski, Lyons, Nolan, Geoghan & McDermott

A lagrangian model study of the transport of a Karenia mikimotoi bloom on the Scottish continental shelf. - Gillibrand & Davidson

Coastal ocean harmful algae observations and modelling in the West Scotland waters. -
Aleynik, Dale & Davidson

Summary paper
Title and authors TBC – the paper will summarise the accepted manuscripts and will therefore be drafted later

The partners also made presentations at technical meetings and scientific conferences. Targeted meeting included the World and European Aquaculture Conferences. Industry partners were responsible for disseminating through their membership of national and international associations such as FEAP (Federation of European Aquaculture Producers) and EAS (European Aquaculture Association). Similar methods were used to promote findings to other interested user groups e.g. community groups, environmental groups and government organisations.

Finally, the online audience of the Copernicus Masters website has voted the ASIMUTH HAB Forecast – as this year’s (2013) most beneficial Earth-monitoring service for European citizens. This award was disseminated through a number of ESA publications and websites and subsequently trickled down to the general public in a number of newspaper articles.

Finally we have been working closely with two other FP7 funded projects OSS2015 and CoBiOs both of which have similarities with our project. Particularly, CoBios which aims to integrate satellite products and ecological models into operational information service for high biomass blooms. We organized a joint workshop in Brussels with these two projects and other FP7 Space related projects on the 8th March 2013. Because of the co-operation with these other projects any overlaps were avoided and information was shared freely.

List of Websites:

Contact details
Julie Maguire (Co-ordinator)
Daithi O'Murchu Marine Research Station