Sampling day with Ocean Forest
During the past week, our PI (Principal Investigator) Dr. Ruiz, joined the Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) harvesting at Austevoll with our industry partners Ocean Forest.
Aquaculture in Norway is really important for the economy of the country, being the leading producer of salmon worldwide (mainly Atlantic salmon Salmo salar; FAO 2012). The main problem of salmon aquaculture is the nitrogen release into the Norwegian coastal waters, which has been calculated to be about 50 000 t N yr−1, as dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) (Wang et al. 2012). Higher levels of nitrogen can lead to negative impacts on the marine ecosystem, like eutrophication (Cloern 2001, Skogen et al. 2009).
In order to mitigate the potentially negative effects of salmon farming, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) has been suggested as a possible solution. IMTA consists on farming salmon alongside kelp or bivalves. These organisms have been shown to improve water quality in regions affected by nutrient pollution, reducing some of the effects of eutrophication (Neori et al., 2004, Cranford, Dowd, & Grant, 2003).
Our partner Ocean Forest cultivates salmon, sugar kelp and mussels, using integrated aquaculture on a commercial scale, in order to meet the future increased demand for food and clean, renewable energy. However, the use of natural resources has to be done as sustainably as possible, to be sure that our impact to the ecosystem is low. Therefore, strong collaborations between the scientific community and the industry are important.
In this case, though, our project is focused on a different problem from aquaculture: disease. The risk of disease outbreak is higher when several organisms are farmed in the same location, and a possible source of disease for the natural environment. This collaboration is therefore important in order to understand viral infections on natural and harvested kelp species, intending to prevent possible future outbreaks.
Come along with Dr. Ruiz during the sampling journey on board the Ocean Forest boat, and discover how we take kelp samples, and how the industry operates in the sea!