New technology for environmental monitoring of aquaculture in sea pens

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Matís and RORUM combine the companies' unique expertise to jointly develop new technology for environmental monitoring of aquaculture in sea pens. In the project, species richness will be used, which is a good measure of the condition of the bottom of the fish ponds.

The aim of the project is to develop a safe, cheap and fast method to assess the state of benthic communities in farming areas using a genetic method. The method will simplify and speed up decision-making about the length of the rest period of farming areas and thus base the length of the rest period on real data about the state of the ecosystem at any given time. This is not the least important in light of the fact that regulatory bodies need to be well informed about the condition of farming areas and it is in the interests of the farming companies to use farming areas in a sustainable manner.

RORUM's research shows that certain species, or groups of species, characterize different conditions under and near fish farms. In the project, 30 species of invertebrates are selected that are characteristic of different seabed conditions and the DNA sequences in their mitochondrial genes are sequenced, but mitochondrial genes are unique for each species.

The DNA sequences are stored in a database for species identification of unknown bottom samples, and therefore the database serves an important role for monitoring and research.

Knowledge, experience and a database of benthic animals in Icelandic fjords, is the basis for Matís and RORUM's collaboration in the project and which will result in this new technology. The results will be directly useful in the monitoring of fish farming and research in general on the biosphere of Icelandic fjords.

The project is funded by Sjókvíaeldi's Environmental Fund.