The potential for offshore aquaculture development in England


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The potential for offshore aquaculture development in England

  1. 1. The potential for offshore aquaculture development – in England CEFAS Weymouth 13-10-09 Mark James Based on reports by James and Slaski commissioned by Defra and Seafish A strategic review of the potential for aquaculture to contribute to the future security of food and nonfood products and services in the UK and specifically England Appraisal of the opportunity for offshore aquaculture in UK waters
  2. 2. First understand “inshore” ! What is the state of the art ? How is it conducted ? A sense of scale, sophistication and cost!
  3. 3. •14 ~90m cages each holding ~25,000 fish •~50 tonnes of fish per cage •~12-15kg/m cu stocking density •probably holding 700 tonnes at max biomass •Producing to different specs for major retailers
  4. 4. Top Secret ! Processing and Filleting Machines
  5. 5. Inshore works – why go offshore? •Environmental concerns •Resource conflicts •Lack of availability of suitable sites for expansion Current “reality” based on Scottish experience •Many environmental concerns have or are being addressed •Resource conflicts are increasingly receiving more objective consideration by planners and politicians •Operators are consolidating activity to fewer larger sites in more appropriate locations (>2,000t sites) •Site availability is often a matter of commercial territoriality and politics than a physical constraint •Still quite a lot of unused capacity at existing sites •Currently no obvious commercial investment/interest in developing “offshore” – higher costs and greater risks – •BUT – some movement to more exposed locations!
  6. 6. Hot off the press! Marine Harvest proposing to invest up to £40m in developing exposed sites off the Outer Hebrides. Each of the new sites will be ~4,000t taking 4.5 million smolts per year. Personnel will live on site.
  7. 7. Inshore works – why go offshore? Some potentially positive drivers: •“Unlimited” access to physical resource •Less regulation •Less impact on the environment •Less disease •Potential for very large farms and associated economies of scale •In reality - little hard evidence to support such claims BUT - Some strategic drivers that will affect the status quo!
  8. 8. Strategic Drivers – “The Perfect Storm” To accommodate these changes that will take place within a generation we must take bold strategic decisions to secure sustainable food and non-food resources at national and regional level Energy Supply – Demand = Energy Gap Human Health Obesity and Age Population Size and Demographic Climate Change Scale and Geographic Impact
  9. 9. What does this mean for aquaculture? FAO per caput Fish Consumption Projection World – 2009 - 6.7 billion – 9.2 billion 19 19 (27% increase) by 2050 18 EU – 2009 - 495 million – 521 million 17 by 2035 per caput fish consumption 16 2002 16 2030 UK – 2008 – 61 million - 77 million by 15 2060 (26% increase) 14 2002 2030 Fish Demand/Supply Aquaculture (Total 80m tonnes) 200 150 40 million 40 100 180 39 Freshwater tons 41 Marine Brackish 50 100 0 Demand Supply 2030 2004
  10. 10. What do we mean by “offshore” and “open ocean aquaculture” ? Site Class Significant Wave Height Degree of Exposure (Hs)(Meters) 1 <0.5 Small 2 0.5-1.0 Moderate 3 1.0-2.0 Medium 4 2.0-3.0 High 5 >3.0 Extreme Norwegian aquaculture site classification scheme (after Ryan, 2004). The average height of the highest one third of waves recorded in a given monitoring period. Also referred to as H⅓ or Hs.
  11. 11. Inshore works – why go offshore? Characteristics Coastal (inshore) Offshore aquaculture Location/hydrography 05-3 km, 10-50 m depth; within 2+ km (>1nm), generally within sight, usually at least semi- continental sheltered shelf zones, possibly open- ocean Environment Hs <=3-4 m, usually <=1 m; Hs 5 m or more, regularly 2-3 short period winds, localized m, oceanic swells, variable coastal currents, possibly wind periods, possibly less strong tidal streams localized current effect Access >=95% accessible on at least Usually >80% accessible, once daily basis, landing landing may be possible, usually possible periodic, e.g., every 3-10 days Operation Regular, manual involvement, Remote operations, automated feeding, monitoring, etc. feeding, distance monitoring, system function Key distinctions of offshore aquaculture (Muir, 1998).
  12. 12. Hs <0.5m Hs 0.5 – 1.0m Hs 1.0 – 2.0m Hs >3.0m Hs 2.0 – 3.0m OFFSHORE – CLASS 5 After Ryan, 2004 (Open Ocean Aquaculture)
  13. 13. Parameters to be considered •Physical – wave climate and current speed •Biological – physiological requirements of stock, health and welfare •Environmental – benthic impacts, carrying/assimilative capacity, wild interactions •Legislative – UK/EU/International regulation and obligations •Economic - financial viability – BIGGEST BARRIER! •Technical – cage/pen – surface/submerged – remote operation
  14. 14. Physical Forces – wave climate CLASS 1&2 inshore sites Hs <1.0m CLASS 3 offshore sites Hs 1.0-2.0m
  15. 15. Wave Height vs Depth Surface Depth Seabed Orbital motion created by waves decreases exponentially with depth Need to take into account forces acting on structures and stock – abrasion, scale loss – death, excessive energy consumption to hold station within the cage etc……
  16. 16. Physical Forces – current speed Optimal current speeds for marine finfish cultivation <1.0 m/s
  17. 17. Current Speed vs Depth Surface Depth Seabed Current Speed Greatest change in velocity
  18. 18. Combined effect – wave height and current speed Ninian Central Platform in Block 3-3 of the North Sea - 100 miles east of Shetland, depth of 133m. Maximum wave height ~ 18m Current speeds ~ 0.8ms-1 at surface to 0.5ms-1, 10m above the seabed Cages might need to be submerged >30m A comparison of an extreme open ocean conditions of waves and currents and sheltered site conditions (dotted line indicates that a submersion in the open ocean of about 31m will result in loads comparable with those at surface at a sheltered site (F/Fmax (horizontal) = maximum horizontal force, d=depth in metres, H = maximum wave height in metres and corresponding wave period, T in seconds, Uc = current velocity in meters per second) (after Ágústsson, 2004).
  19. 19. Environmental factors •Dispersion of waste given current speed maxima of stock and distance from seabed of possibly submerged cage may not be radically different to inshore •Existing regulatory tools/models may not be suitable for application offshore •Monitoring requirements may be more costly to implement •Prevention of escapes – may be more problematic •Fouling – need to minimise to reduce drag forces and maximise water circulation in cage
  20. 20. Legislation • Probably an adequate regulatory regime to 3nm limit •But questionable whether existing regulation is sufficient to cover aquaculture developments beyond 3nm •Some WFD regulation may be transposable. Current offshore environmental regulation designed around oil/gas and more recently renewables – not suitable for aquaculture • Notion that there will be less regulation offshore may not hold in reality……..
  21. 21. Economics Economic viability of offshore aquaculture is probably the biggest barrier to overcome Model Example for a 10,000 t offshore farm: Salmon – fast growing – high fillet yield •The unit cost of production probably in line with estimates of current Scottish inshore salmon aquaculture. •Cost £23.5 million to establish project •IRR 15% Cod – slower growing – lower fillet yield The unit cost of production probably in line with estimates of current Scottish inshore salmon aquaculture. Cost £30.7 million to establish project IRR 10% Typically IRRs > 30% would be required to interest pure financial investors. Industrial investors already in aquaculture would probably be content with IRRs of 15%+ if the technology was proven, but this is not the case with offshore aquaculture. *Think of IRR as the rate of growth a project is expected to generate
  22. 22. Economics Sensitivity analysis revealed that sale price of product had the greatest impact on profitability. Effect of 10% Variation Above and Below Core Assumptions for Some Key Variables 900% 800% 700% 600% % Change in 500% Project IRR 400% 300% 200% 100% 0% Sales Price Juvenile Pen Cost Feed Cost Price Salmon Example - £2.75 down to £2.25/kg, IRR 27% to 3%. > £20 million upfront – marketing plan needs to be optimal to avert financial disaster!
  23. 23. Technical considerations •Containment systems – cages/pens •Remotely operated systems •Some of this technology exists, is in use and could be adapted to offshore use (CLASS 3 and 4 sites) •No commercial scale CLASS 5 (open ocean) technology exists for aquaculture •Many systems designed by engineers – not fish farmers! •Some too expensive to ever be economically viable •Some technically too complex •Some take no proper account of operational requirements – such as harvesting/feeding/treating for disease •The graveyard for failed prototypes and commercial lemons is already large!
  24. 24. Gravity Cages polarCirkel® submersible cage is designed for sites subjected to rough weather, pollution, algal blooms, wide temperature variations, fouling, icing of cages and drift ice Canadian Aquaculture Engineering Group (AEG – Canada). Above – plan view of six cages attached to framework and through a feed and service barge to a single point mooring system.
  25. 25. Gravity Cages – semi-submersible Farmocean cage deployed and diagram of cage showing complete system in side view Gravity Cages – fully-submersible Diagram of structure of SADCO Shelf and deployed system at surface.
  26. 26. Anchor tension – cages and enclosures Diagram of Ocean Spar net pen – note the spar bouys at each corner, against which the net is tensioned. Diagram of one segment of the conceptual MFRL design. This enclosure system would be by far the largest single cage unit if deployed
  27. 27. Semi Rigid Cages Oceanspar cage submerged – designed to operate at Hs of 7m Rigid Cages Fish farm platform from Marina System Iberica – the Cultimar
  28. 28. OceanGlobe in service position at the surface and submerged Conceptual Ocean drfiter cage and detail of spar
  29. 29. Izar Fene Semi submersible tuna/restocking ship – concept. Izar Fene Semi submersible platform - concept Only two or three of the forgoing designs have ever been successfully deployed for commercial scale fish farming
  30. 30. Shellfish – offshore? •In some respects – shellfish production may be more suited to offshore development than fish in the first instance. •Submerged and semi submerged long line systems for mussels – a well thought through and properly resourced pilot scale demonstration project in CLASS 3 conditions is required – see Holmyard 2008 •10,000 hectare continuous long line mussel farm in the advanced stages of planning for deployment in ~6m Hs in NZ •The potential to develop shellfish culture in association with offshore renewables development should be explored - See Buck's work – associated with renewables
  31. 31. Algal biomass – offshore? •Biofuels do not need to come from land •Marifuels – bioethanol, biodiesel and more complex alcohols – biobutanol •30 times more oil per hectare than current biofuel crops •Cleaner, more easily degraded and more easily blended with mineral oils than terrestrial biofuel equivalents •EU target for 5.75% biofuel content for transport by 2010 would require about 25% of EU arable land use! 6 million Euro project - a drop in the ocean! This should be an area of major strategic national investment for the UK!
  32. 32. •ExxonMobile – recently announced $600million investment in development of biofuel from microalgae – a fraction of the cost of finding and exploiting a new oil field!
  33. 33. Other non-food aquaculture futures ! The Kelp Car Toyota is looking to a greener future — literally — with dreams of an ultralight, superefficient plug-in hybrid with a bioplastic body made of seaweed that could be in showrooms within 15 years. The kelp car would build upon the already hypergreen 1/X plug-in hybrid concept, which weighs 926 pounds, by replacing its carbon-fiber body with plastic derived from seaweed. As wild as it might sound, bioplastics are becoming increasingly common and Toyota thinks it’s only a matter of time before automakers use them to build cars.
  34. 34. A possible long-term (15-20 year) future •Large scale macroalgal cultivation based on submerged long line or similar technologies •Forming “natural” islands and harbours – creating conditions suitable for fish and shellfish cultivation offshore – possible synergies with other offshore renewable developments and infrastructure •Some potential for realising multi-trophic aquaculture – Nitrogenous waste from fish farm helps to fertilise algae. Organic waste from fish farm feeds shellfish
  35. 35. A short to medium term goal (3-5 years)! •A pilot scale project to be conducted within the 3nm limit. •Tested with existing cage and longline systems in appropriate exposed sites – must be strongly grounded by industry – with appropriate assistance from research community - a UK/national goal. •Take a more proactive role in engaging with international efforts – but remain focused on commercial realities at every stage – avoid the lemons! •Above all – adopt a properly – nationally and, as far as possible, internationally co-ordinated approach.
  36. 36. A final thought! OFF-PLANET AQUACULTURE
  37. 37. Thankyou for your attention!