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Intelligent management system for integrated multi-trophic aquaculture

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - IMPAQT (Intelligent management system for integrated multi-trophic aquaculture)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-08-31

Aquaculture is the fastest growing animal food producing sector in the world and is an increasingly important contributor to economic growth and global food supply. However, the European aquaculture has seen little or no volume growth over the last decade, although Europe represents the largest market for fish in the world with steadily increased sea food consumption. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is acknowledged as a promising solution approach for the sustainable development of aquaculture. IMTA allows for the farming of multiple species within a location in a way that allows the outputs and wastes (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.) associated with some species to be recaptured and be used as nutrients for the growth of the other species (e.g. seaweed utilising the nutrient output from fin fish). The IMTA benefits are environmental sustainability through waste reduction, product diversification, and spatial optimisation by reducing the impact and increasing productivity of a site. Currently IMTA is at a very small scale in Europe, while management of large-scale IMTA areas remains difficult.
Aquaculture in Europe has also a great social importance, being seen as a contributor to help guarantee long-term food security and public health. The aquaculture sector is also important for the growth and employment for citizens, especially in coastal and inland areas. A close cooperation with the processing industry can further improve job creation and competitiveness in both sectors.
The ambition of the IMPAQT project was to drive a paradigm shift in the EU Industry and its acceptance of IMTA as a viable approach, paving the way to both a more environmentally friendly and more efficient/higher yielding European Industry.
The project worked to improve monitoring and management systems for IMTA production by designing and effecting new or emerging technologies in one intelligent management platform. The system was trialed on 6 pilot sites (Scotland, The Netherlands, Ireland x2, Turkey and China), addressing inland, coastal and offshore aquaculture, and validated in laboratory studies. The system demonstrated optimal sustainable IMTA development and its contribution to ecosystem services and circular economy. The project also worked to promote the transfer of knowledge derived by IMPAQT activities to the EU aquaculture stakeholders.
IMPAQT has developed novel sensors and data sources for deployment, together with integrated smart data aggregators and the communication systems required for long term autonomous monitoring in the field.
An advanced IMTA model blueprint was developed. It yields spatially explicit information on how the different farm components interact with the environment on the scale of an ecosystem and can be used for planning decisions by both farmers and regulators. This is based on data sets provided, not just from physical sensors (both commercially available as well as developed within the program of work), but also from “virtual” sensors including satellite imagery information and data sets obtained from “cloud sourced” data acquisition platforms developed in the project.
Also an integrated management system, operating at the scale of an IMTA farm and comprising analytics and decision support functionalities, has been developed to enable enhanced operational decisions for animal welfare, production optimization, environmental protection and food quality assessment.
IMPAQT progressed the current state of the art by providing specific outcomes in 3 main axes.
1. IMTA set-ups and pilots: IMPAQT implemented and demonstrated IMTA systems in real pilot sites, covering geographical differences and different production scenarios. Better estimates of the overall costs and benefits of IMTA to the ecosystem including the business, the environment, the species and the food product has been provided to create financial and regulatory incentives for industry and government to invest in the IMTA approach, based on real data coming from the 6 pilots.
2. Innovations in monitoring and management systems: The project went step beyond the IMTA system, by providing technologies and innovations to manage IMTA to increase sustainability, production volumes and quality, and in the end the business case.
The technologies and innovations developed include novel sensors and data sources developed and prototyped in the project. A prototype integrated autonomous data acquisition system (IADAS), and data aggregator system (DAS) have been developed and deployment. These acquired datasets to enable predictive analytics which will advance ecosystem-scale and farm-scale models, fish/seafood product’s quality and safety assessment methods. The smart data acquisition system and non-physical data sources enables autonomous decision making for alert/actuation, all in one multi-purpose, multi-sensing and multi-functional management platform for IMTA production.
This innovative management platform has modularity, open systems approach and interoperability, and the ability to support multiple stakeholders in planning, operational and marketing phases. The platform can improve the efficiency and sustainability of the IMTA systems, by enabling better production, animal welfare and environmental protection.
3. Training activities and IMTA promotion: IMPAQT build an ecosystem around the project, developed training activities, and open documentation, to promote IMTA and demonstrate the value of IMPAQT services. Training activities included MOOCS, face-to-face end-user training, and on-line training targeted at end-users and next-to-end-users. Dissemination and communication activities contributed to this by giving visibility to the project outcomes in events, scientific and sectoral publications, digital channels and media. The project also contributed to the eco-intensification of EU aquaculture, by assessing the potential environmental impacts of the new implemented solutions at the different pilots and demonstrating their minimization.
The IMPAQT MOOC is hosted on the Open University's OpenLearnCreate educational site - Link ).
The Key outputs from the project are summerised in an accessible format in the IMPAQT Handbook, which can be downloaded from the project website.
Project Logo - IMPAQT project - No. 774109