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Cleaner water for sustainable fish farming

Fish farming, one of the many areas of aquaculture, requires a clean water supply and results in the creation of a number of products and by-products in its effluents (out-going water). These effluents can damage recipient wetlands and hinder sustainable development.
Cleaner water for sustainable fish farming
The ‘Improvement and innovation of aquaculture effluent treatment technology’ (Aquaetreat) project was initiated to develop new strategies and technologies for more efficient and environmentally friendly use and disposal of water in fish farming. In particular, the investigators sought to develop an efficient and cost-effective system for wastewater treatment leading to minimised water consumption and decreased environmental impact on surrounding ecosystems.

The researchers chose three European sites for evaluation, each with different geography, environment and operational methods. They analysed the dynamic water cycle and water pollution produced by fish farming at the sites. They then proposed different solutions for each site, implementation of which resulted in measurable decreases in both water consumption and pollution.

The researchers investigated the nature and composition of all effluents, including treated water, sludge and other by-products of the treatment process. They investigated the potential of sludge to be used as a soil fertiliser as well as for the treated water to be recirculated within the farm itself. In addition, team members evaluated the effect of the effluents on the recipient ecosystem as well as on animal health.

Finally, the scientists evaluated a potential business plan for supporting sustainable effluent treatment as well as the possibility of providing design and operational advice to farmers.

The results and knowledge gained were disseminated to fish farmers through training courses as well as via a handbook and a website set up for the scientific community.

In summary, the Aquaetreat project produced tangible benefits for both fish farmers and surrounding ecosystems, supporting sustainable aquaculture while increasing competitiveness.

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