Potential use of peatlands as future locations for the sustainable intensification of freshwater aquaculture production - a case study from the Republic of Ireland
O'Neill, Emer A.
Rowan, Neil J.
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There has been an increasing interest in enhancing freshwater aquaculture processes without hindering the progress of the Water Framework Directive. Bord Iascaigh Mhara (Ireland’s national seafood development organisation), undertook a feasibility study to assess the potential use of peatlands (bogs) for sustainable aquaculture diversification. AquaMona, a new concept in integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA), uses cutaway bogs to farm rainbow trout and Eurasian perch with associated organic status that is powered by wind energy and utilizes algae and duckweed to treat rearing water. Approximately 5% of Ireland comprises bogs that support natural ecosystems where there is a pressing need to develop alternative innovation to that of burning peat in order to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions. This constitutes the first study to evaluate water quality from this new IMTA where intake and terminal holding tank samples were evaluated from May to August 2019. Physicochemical parameters (temperature, pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen, suspended solids, hardness and alkalinity), and ecotoxicological bioassays (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata and Daphnia pulex), were used to investigate the potential effects that introducing aquaculture processes may have on peatlands. Nitrite (p<0.001), Nitrate (p=0.016), and chemical oxygen demand (p=0.011), were the only physicochemical parameters that differed significantly between the intake and holding tank water indicating that water quality for the most part remained unchanged. Low levels of toxicity were observed between the bioassays suggested the introduction of the processes into the bog were unlikely to cause adverse effects on the ecosystem and the organisms therein. Observations determined in this study were similar to or lower than those determined for intensive flow-through aquaculture processes that discharge to receiving water. Findings from this study support the use of peatlands as future locations for integrated aquaculture processes
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