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Site Selection Criteria for Open Ocean Aquaculture

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With aquaculture steadily expanding, the need for suitable space has been followed by the development of more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable methodologies. Avoiding possible conflicts between the development of commercial aquaculture operations and the environmental impact in coastal areas, utilizing the offshore environment offers the greatest potential for expansion of the industry in most regions throughout the world. Although currents and greater depths generally increase the assimilation capacity and energy of the offshore environment and offer many advantages for aquaculture, a number of challenges associated with developing any activity in the open ocean environment must be taken into consideration. This article summarizes these advantages and challenges, focusing on the first and most crucial step for project development: site selection criteria for open ocean aquaculture. Although most of the concepts and criteria are common to other marine net pen aquaculture operations, we review and present those conditions that are inherent to the open ocean environment and must be considered before developing any offshore aquaculture activity. These encompass basic premises; assumptions; logistics; infrastructure; availability of manpower, services, and materials; legal framework; socioeconomic and political issues; and oceanographic, biological, environmental, and technological criteria. There are no defined set of criteria, as most are interacting and not fixed but interdependent (e.g., depth vs. current velocity). However, suitable sites must meet basic crucial standards summarized here.

Site selection is one of the most important decisions for the establishment of a fish farm operation. Satellite images, hydrographic charts, maps, Google Earth, and Geographic Information Systems can all provide important information for preliminary work on site assessment; however, a very careful in situ survey is mandatory to evaluate the suitability of the area.

Keywords: Offshore fish farming; Open ocean aquaculture; Selection criteria for ocean fish farming

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.44.3.11

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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