Thursday, November 20, 2008

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture
Neither monoculture nor polyculture, IMTA is a technique that involves utilizing the waste from a fed species to feed other species kept in the same environment. This creates a balanced ecosystem with enhanced profitability and stability as well as better environmental sustainability. While monoculture is the farming of a single species, and polyculture is the farming of multiple similar species, IMTA incorporates multiple species from different nutritional or "trophic" levels in the same system. For example, a farm could incorporate shrimp, which are fed by the farmers, with seaweed and shellfish, which would make use of any waste nutrients from the shrimp.

Some issues have been raised concerning the potential for contaminants being passed from one species to another. However, there has so far been no noticeable levels of heavy metals, pesticides, or other toxins. Worries that mussels grown near salmon farms could have a fishy taste have also been allayed. In fact, their meat yield is significantly higher as a direct result of the increased nutrients from the salmon pens.

There are two major IMTA projects in Canada.The Bay of Fundy project is a collaborative effort involving industry, academics, and government. It incorporates Atlantic salmon, blue mussels, and kelp working together in a self-contained ecosystem. The Pacific SEA-lab research initiative propogates sablefish, scallops, oysters, blue mussels, urchins, and kelp in a more complex system.

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