Could seaweed be a salve to debate over salmon farming?

Seaweed is great at dealing with the waste from salmon farms and providing producers with another cash crop, says researcher Thierry Chopin. Photo by Steve Backman.

For well over a decade, scientists on Canada’s coasts have demonstrated how growing seaweed or shellfish alongside salmon farms can provide a host of benefits — economic and ecological.

Researcher Thierry Chopin has been pitching the idea of co-cultivating multiple species together, or Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), since the late 1990s.

The notion behind co-cultivation, or IMTA, is that extractive species like seaweed, mussels, or sea cucumbers can filter or flourish from the uneaten feed, waste, and byproducts from fish farms.

Modelled around the natural food chain, IMTA takes a circular economy approach to aquaculture that both improves marine ecosystem health and increases the number of products that can be grown at one site, said Chopin, a marine biology professor at the University of New Brunswick.

If shellfish are added to the mix, they could benefit from seaweed carbon capture, which, in a localized area, may reduce ocean acidification that threatens the growth of shells on baby mollusks.

Rochelle Baker, Canada’s National Observer, 22 February 2021. Full article.

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