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OATP Streszczenie raportu

Project ID: 44290
Źródło dofinansowania: FP6-POLICIES
Kraj: Ireland

Final Report Summary - OATP (Evaluation of the promotion of Offshore Aquaculture Through a Technology Platform)

The OATP project objective was 'to investigate the opportunity and usefulness for the aquaculture industry of promoting offshore aquaculture through a technological platform'. The general methodology of the approach was to form a consortium of service providers, manufacturers, aquaculture practitioners with offshore experience, research and development organisations and agencies from the sector which would pool the available knowledge and experience by the most efficient and practical methods available. The goal was to ensure that the stated objective above is addressed accurately, comprehensively and efficiently.

Promoting the development of offshore aquaculture through the activities of an initiative group of the European Aquaculture Technology Platform (EATP) and through representation on the IWG of the EATP is considered the most effective, efficient and appropriate method of ensuring a consolidated and coordinated approach to developing a European strategic research agenda for aquaculture. While there is ambiguity regarding the definition there is considerable clarity as to what is required in order to make the move to offshore.

In general, offshore aquaculture may be defined as taking place in the open sea with significant exposure to wind and wave action where there is a requirement for equipment and servicing vessels to survive and operate in severe sea conditions from time to time. The issue of distance from the coast or from a safe harbour or shore base is often but not always a factor.

The vision of potential for the offshore sector derived from the various stakeholder consultations and with inputs from the consultative committee is of a vibrant, technologically driven, sustainable industry supplying fish and quality fish products to an ever-increasing world population.

The key factors underpinning the unit cost of production and ensuring it is competitive with the international benchmark are:
- production is being carried out at an appropriate scale;
- the strains being cultivated are the best available;
- there is good vertical integration within the industry;
- the industry is organised in nodes or clusters and has a high degree of co-operative use of common facilities, both within the industry and with related sub-sectors (fisheries, food processing);
- the industry is highly automated and the employees have a high skills base;
- remote telemetry is a key to monitoring and the management and control of process within the industry;
- health management has been developed and consolidated into a holistic code of practice, which is underpinned by effective vaccines for key problem areas.

The major gap areas, which need to be addressed, can be categorised as follows:
1. development of customised technology solutions across a range of areas particular to operating the harsh offshore environment;
2. introduction of systems and adopting a systems analysis approach to solving husbandry and work practice issues in the context of offshore;
3. the application of remote monitoring technology and telemetry to both site management and routine activities at offshore installations;
4. the implementation of an appropriate regulatory framework to encourage and underpin the commercial development of a sustainable and 'green' aquaculture sector in European coastal seas;
5. development of additional sustainable sources of oil and protein for feedstuffs for a range of culture species.

Potential impact

In the course of carrying out a thorough evaluation of the objectives, the project achieved a number of clearly defined goals, which will of themselves have a measurable impact beyond the achievement of the stated objective of the project. These impacts will include the following:
- Development of a widely based consensus on RTDI priorities in the offshore aquaculture sector. This will inform strategic planning at various levels including EU, national and corporate. Feedback will be efficient, thorough and immediate through the gateway of the participants and partners in the project.
- An increase in the overall investment in the offshore aquaculture development sector (in terms of EU, Member States, private funding and venture capital) by showing a common vision of the potential and the intermediate steps required to achieve it.
- Strengthen networks and encourage the development of clusters and centres of excellence. In particular, the facilitation of cluster development between public and private organisations and across disciplines in this sector, which is very much in the phase of early development and is as yet quite fragmented in nature, will be of critical benefit to realising future potential.
- Identify areas of current strengths, areas of weakness which require strengthening, and gap areas where there is a lack of capability or expertise within the European Research Area (ERA).
- At a regional level, assist regions in identifying and addressing challenges and in particular opportunities in this developing sector.
- Identify and catalogue the pre-requisites for development of a consistent and coherent policy and regulatory framework for offshore aquaculture in the EU and EEA.
- An increase in public awareness, understanding and acceptance of the technologies concerned and the benefits accruing to the wider public through their appropriate deployment.

OATP signed a memorandum of understanding with EATP in March 2007. This memorandum of understanding outlines the cooperation in developing RTDI visions, research agenda, deployment strategies and projects relevant to the European aquaculture industry under the concept of Technology Platforms.

The outputs from the OATP project will be put at the disposal of the EATP interim working group (IWG) and will also be disseminated via the EATP web portal.

The memorandum of understanding also sets out how OATP outputs will contribute to an overarching vision for the development of aquaculture in Europe. The EATP has been established as a coordinating organ to facilitate initiatives and operations within aquaculture and the OATP is one of the first initiative groups of EATP.

The OATP findings and conclusions will form part of the developing EATP visions, strategic research agenda and deployment strategy. Promoting the development of offshore aquaculture through the activities of an initiative group of EATP and through representation on the IWG of the EATP is considered the most effective, efficient and appropriate method of ensuring a consolidated and coordinated approach to developing a European strategic research agenda for aquaculture.

The guide for the sustainable development of Mediterranean aquaculture - Interactions between aquaculture and the environment made the following recommendations on environmental protection:
- Greater progress should be made in the domestication of species.
- Escapement prevention and management should be improved with a view to minimising potential impact.
- Native species should be cultured wherever feasible, following the recommendations of organisations such as the IUCN itself or the ICES in the case of the culturing of alien species.
- Research (on the closing of life-cycles, the functioning of the ecosystem, etc.) should be encouraged in order to guarantee that aquaculture should not endanger either the stock of wild populations (e.g. bluefin tuna) or biodiversity in general.
- Guidelines are put forward (with particular reference to coastal production systems) to reduce or eliminate the negative impact associated with the organic content of effluents from aquaculture farms. In the case of offshore cages, the dispersion of this organic content is generally higher and therefore the impact occurring, although it cannot be ignored, is, under normal conditions, potentially lower.
- The production of aquafeeds should be a sustainable activity, diversifying the sourcing of raw materials for formulated feeds and encouraging the development of aquaculture as an integrated activity.
- Strategies should be developed to minimise the transfer of pathogens between farmed species and wild stock populations in both directions.
- Strategies should be developed to ensure the correct management of the use of antibiotics and to minimise possible detrimental effects on the natural environment.
- Eco-friendly antifouling coatings and products should be developed.
- Strategies should be developed to ensure the thorough analysis of possible impacts on the flora and fauna of the areas where aquaculture facilities are to be deployed (in this regard, offshore aquaculture normally has less impact than other kinds of systems).

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