INTEGRATE featured in Produits de la Mer no. 185

INTEGRATE stands out prominently in an article on IMTA published by the French magazine Produits de la Mer in its September 2018 issue no. 185. The article also features CEVA’s Bertrand Jacquemin’s insights into the challenges facing the current and future development of IMTA and reviews relevant projects taking place in France.

Click on the link to read the article 2018_09_04 Produits de la Mer n°185 – Aquaculture multitrophique_un concept à valider

INTEGRATE at Aqua 2018

INTEGRATE was an active participant at the WAS/EAS joint conference Aqua 2018 which took place in Montpellier (France) on 25-29 August 2018. We contributed a poster presentation of the project titled PROJECT INTEGRATE -INTEGRATED AQUACULTURE: AN ECO-INNOVATIVE SOLUTION TO FOSTER SUSTAINABILITY IN THE ATLANTIC AREA and the oral presentation INTEGRATED MULTI-TROPHIC AQUACULTURE (IMTA) BEST PRACTICES: STATE-OF-THE-ART IN THE ATLANTIC AREA featured in the IMTA session chaired by Thierry Chopin.


INTEGRATE poster presentation                                                                     Bertrand Jacquemin (CEVA) presenting the state-of-the-art review

The INTEGRATE pilot actions take off

INTEGRATE’s Work Package 4 is implementing three pilot actions to test IMTA species associations, technology and farming techniques. Partners have tailored the design of their pilot IMTA systems to the envisaged experiments and the corresponding data collection & assessment requirements.


Pilot action 1: Testing new eco-friendly technologies and high value seaweeds applied to IMTA

Pilot 1 studies innovative IMTA systems to find alternatives to organic and inorganic extractive components for Atlantic IMTA. Experiments will monitor performances of different IMTA associations in controlled systems. Also, IMTA’s underdeveloped benthic component will be assessed to develop suitable technologies to support it. The market potential of Atlantic IMTA seaweeds will be improved by developing production techniques for new high-value species.

Pilot 1 partners are AGROCAMPUS OUEST and CEVA (France), NUIG and ISC (Ireland), SAMS (UK) and ALGAPLUS (Portugal).

CEVA’s pilot 1 aims to develop cultivation techniques for three new high value seaweed species: Codium tomentosum, Palmaria palmata and Porphyra purpurea. The pilot will implement land-based and at-sea trials using wild samples of the three seaweeds (in progress). Different materials and conditions will be tested in order to come up with cultivation techniques that are easily adapted to different existing aquaculture systems (shellfish, fish, etc.).

NUIG’s pilot 1 aims to develop cultivation of Ulva spp. in two different IMTA systems – (1) together with lumpsuckers (Cyclopterus lumpus) in a land-based experimental scale recirculation system, and (2) alongside Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) grown at sea. For system 1 we will look at bioremediation capacity of both lamina and tubular morphotypes of Ulva under different stocking densities and at different effluent flow rates. Currently the first prototype system is being constructed.

For system 2 NUIG is developing a protocol to sporulate the local ulva species and seed it onto culture twine that can then be transplanted to sea. Sporulation experiments are currently on-going and in the meantime the first deployment of vegetative Ulva has been out-planted at sea, in order to assess growth rates and nitrogen content when cultivated close to and far from the salmon cages.

Preparation of vegetative ulva for transplant to sea & Deployment of ulva next to the salmon cages at sea


Pilot action 2: Near-shore eco-friendly IMTA developments

Pilot 2 seeks to develop efficient management techniques for Porphyra-oyster IMTA systems. The wild collection and hatchery production of Porphyra are being assessed in order to provide oyster farmers with new tools to support their diversification efforts, and to bring new supplies to the seaweed industry and new hatchery best practice.

Pilot 2 partners are CEVA and AGROCAMPUS OUEST (France) and Algaplus (Portugal).

CEVA’s pilot 2 started in June 2018 with a prospection of the French Oyster farms where Porphyra purpurea naturally recruits on oyster nests. To date, 4 sites have been identified (Figure 2) and the isolation of conchocelis is in progress.

Location of the 4 prospected French oyster farms with natural Porphyra purpurea recruitment

Conchocelis experimental culture aims at i) developing a durable strain collection (from 2018 to 2020), ii) defining optimal cultivation conditions for seeding on oyster nests (autumn 2018) and iii) transferring knowledge to oyster farms (2019).

Simultaneously, discussions with oyster farmers are running in order to propose different efficient harvesting techniques, which will be subsequently tested in 2019.

This approach will allow CEVA to develop technical itineraries and methods for an integrated aquaculture combining oysters and Porphyra.

Pilot action 3: IMTA eco-friendly standard model for land-based semi-extensive aquaculture industry.

Pilot 3 focuses on land-based IMTA systems combining fish, molluscs, invertebrates and seaweed/salt tolerant plants. The possibility of controlling water flow through different compartments makes land-based systems an excellent candidate for successful Atlantic IMTA.


Pilot 3 partners are IPMA and ALGAPLUS (Portugal) and CTAQUA (Spain).

CTAQUA’s pilot combines land-based fish production with oysters and seaweed as IMTA components. This system is being implemented at a converted salt marsh in the Bahía de Cádiz Nature Reserve (Andalucía, Spain). CTAQUA has started the pilot by deploying a land-based longline system and seeding it with seaweed (Ulva sp.).


Land-based Ulva sp. long-line system

The remaining two components are an oyster (Crassostrea gigas or Magallana gigas) rack-and-bag system and a gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) growout facility in earthen ponds. The pilot will be in operation until late 2019.

Oyster rack-and-bag system

INTEGATE will use the results of CTAQUA’s, IPMA’s and ALGAPLUS’ trials to develop a sustainable industry standard for land-based semi-extensive IMTA.


INTEGRATE organises an IMTA environmental workshop

On 18 April 2018, INTEGRATE partners attended a Life Cycle Assessment and Emergy/Ecopath workshop organised by Work Package 5 leader IPMA.

The workshop was meant to help partners understand what is required for Work Package 5 model parameterisation (INPUTS) and what the models can do (OUTPUTS) for their pilot actions. It was divided into two units focusing on i) a generic ecological/ecosystem modelling software to calculate the energy balance for IMTA systems (Ecopath with Ecosim) and ii) the definition of LCA and Emergy accounting, discussing model parameterisation (INPUTS) and presenting simulations (OUTPUTS).


  • Learned the basics of ecosystem modelling through Ecopath with Ecosim.
  • Followed the building up of a IMTA EwE model.
  • Recognised the potential and the limitations of EwE applications to aquaculture systems.
  • Discovered the principles of LCA and Emergy accounting.
  • Understood the strengths, weaknesses and complementarity of LCA and Emergy.
  • Got hands on experience with the Pisce’n’tool assessment tool.
  • Understood the dos and don’ts of applying LCA to assess the environmental performance of IMTA systems.


The workshop was split into three units:

Unit 1: Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE)                                                                       Sofia Gamito (U. Algarve)

Unit 1 addresses the potential of this modelling software when applied to Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) systems. The results of an experiment carried out by EPPO-IPMA in 2016 were be used to discuss the suitability of EwE. The experiment tested three different IMTA treatments: Fish+Oysters+Macroalgae, Fish+Oysters, Fish+Macroalgae.


Unit 2: LCA/EMERGY                                                                                                    Aurélie Wilfart (INRA)

Unit 2 discussed two assessment methods (LCA and Emergy accounting) and how they are used to assess the environmental performance of IMTA systems.


Unit 3: LCA in Project IDREEM: lessons learnt                                                        Adam Hughes (SAMS)

The European IDREEM project had a dedicated work package to the development of LCAs for IMTA production systems. Unit 3 described the major findings of the project as they pertain to LCA and discussed some of the lessons learnt about the use of these assessments to quantify the environmental performance of IMTA systems.

INTEGRATE meetings

The INTEGRATE partnership last met on 17–18 April 2018 at IPMA’s Estação Piloto de Piscicultura de Olhão.

The meeting agenda included an in-depth review of the project status, the first progress review and the implementation of the work plan.

The meeting was followed by a visit to the IMTA facilities at IPMA’s Estação Piloto de Piscicultura de Olhão.

The INTERGRATE partnership will be holding its next meeting at SAMS’ facilities in Oban (Scotland) on 2 October 2018.

INTEGRATE expert groups discuss IMTA technical issues

INTEGRATE’s Work Package 4 is engaged in the creation of expert groups to exchange current knowledge of IMTA in the Atlantic Area. The work plan envisages four thematic round-tables per country where key experts from industry, academia, state institutions etc. discuss the gaps, needs and new technologies identified as relevant for each individual Atlantic Area country. IMTA best practice is thus defined at national level before being synthesised into best practice for the Atlantic Area as a whole.

The four roundtables are meant to deal with the following topics:

  1. Technical.
  2. Environmental.
  3. Economic.
  4. Social.

Expert groups discuss three sub-topics at each of the round-tables: a)Definition of best practice, b) Bottlenecks to the development of best practice, c) Priority areas for development of best practice.

INTEGRATE partners organised the first round-tables to discuss topic 1 between March and May 2018. CTAQUA hosted the Spanish round-table in El Puerto de Santa María on 22 March, IPMA and ALGA+ hosted the Portuguese round-table in Olhão on 12 April, NUIG and ISC hosted the Irish round-table in Galway on 13 April and CEVA and AGROCAMPUS OUEST hosted the French round-table in Rennes on 25 April. .

Partners used different round-table formats depending on the size of the national expert groups and the time available. In most cases they were plenary sessions followed by sub-topic discussions in separate or single groups. The British round-table, however, consisted of a set of interviews with experts hosted by SAMS in the weeks leading up to the Aquaculture UK 2018 conference in Aviemore on 23 & 24 May.


The Spanish expert group had its meeting on 22 March 2018


Round-table discussions were fruitful and experts raised key points that need to be addressed in each of the Atlantic Area countries in order to facilitate a successful transition towards industrial IMTA. Perhaps the most important was the need for a European consensus definition of IMTA . INTEGRATE partners have since agreed to organise a bespoke event where European experts will agree on a suitable definition.

The summary results of the 5 separate round-tables are presented below, according to sub-topic and with details according to partner countries. In general, it was felt that there was a substantial lack of technical expertise, with regard to both production of species for all IMTA components, and knowledge of their interactions. This hampered the ability to define best-practice, and was the major bottleneck to development of IMTA. Contained within ‘technical expertise’ are many distinct factors, as detailed in the table. As anticipated, the bottlenecks and priority areas for development are mirror images of each other.



Best practices are generally known for the component species but need to be developed for IMTA specific issues – definition of degree of separation/consideration of pathogen and contaminant transfer/definition of degree of trophic integration UK
What degree of trophic differentiation between species is appropriate i.e. when does polyculture become IMTA? F, IE
What constitutes ‘the same system’, with regard to nutrient flows? F, UK, IE
What are the ‘correct’ relative production volumes? F, ES
Local strains of component species should be used F, UK, IE
Attention should be given to the complementarity of resources e.g. phytoplankton versus macroalgae F
Attention should be given to the complementarity of space, both vertical and horizontal F
Attention should be given to the complementarity of season between organisms in the system F
Design of flows must be suited to operation control systems ES


Lack of technical knowledge, skills and tools F, UK, IE, ES, P
Lack of technology transfer from research to industry
Lack of experience hampers up-scaling
Lack of hatcheries/seed stock for IMTA species, particularly benthic/invertebrate component UK, IE
Difficulty in managing several species; the focus is invariably on the primary species F, IE
Interactions between species with regard to e.g. nutrient flows, pathogens and medicines is not yet understood or quantified F, IE, UK
Mismatch in scale of various industries as they are currently practiced UK

Technology transfer/travelling roadshow IE
Production experience and practical trials UK
Development of new species F, UK, IE
Design of IMTA management and control systems ES
Quantification of interactions (nutrient, pathogen, medicine etc.) F, ES, IE
Knowledge of appropriate separation distances and relative spatial requirements UK, IE
Larger installations; scale; critical mass UK, IE, P


The second roundtables to discuss topic 4 (social) are expected to take place in November 2018.