Multi-trophic systems

sistemas multitroficos

Integrated aquaculture is defined as aquaculture that makes better use of resources. It reduces the potential excess of material or resources, including the excess organic material generated in primary fish farming, by introducing secondary farmed species. The results are a positive impact on the environment, the diversification of species and economic benefits.

In aquaculture, one of the most recommended ways to minimise the environmental impact and take better advantage of resources is multi-trophic farming.

The term multi-trophic refers to species’ use of different levels of the trophic chain, and this is the main point of differentiation with aquatic polyculture, in which diverse fish species are cultured at the same trophic level. Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture borrows a concept from nature, because in the food chain, some species find their food niche in the waste generated by others.

Multi-trophic systems in aquaculture, or integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, is a practice in which several aquaculture systems interact with one another, and the waste generated by some species is used as food or fertilizer by others. This creates a sustainable system that aims to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of animal farming in the area, improving environmental sustainability, economic stability (through product diversification) and social acceptability.

Ideally, the biological and chemical processes in a multi-trophic system are balanced. This balance is achieved through the appropriate selection of the different species used. Cultivated species must be more than just biofilters, because for the project to have viability and continuity, they must also add commercial value.

The basic model that exemplifies this type of system would consist of the combined farming of fish, bivalve molluscs and macroalgae.

In real examples, it has been possible to verify how the particles discarded in marine cages, including food from the feed provided, are used by mussels and other bivalves. At the same time, the algae absorb inorganic waste generated by the farm. This ‘natural recycling system’ of aquaculture nutrients leads to a reduction of waste in the environment.

In short, it is an emerging activity with excellent prospects for the future, although it faces major challenges, such as:

  • Lack of familiarity with some of the cultivated species.
  • Suitable management of cultivations, as producers are usually highly specialised in monoculture.
  • Identifying the appropriate species for each market.
  • Economic viability.

Lastly, it is important to add that the FAO has emphasised on numerous occasions that the ‘development of integrated multi-trophic production systems’, among other advances in aquaculture research, helps to ‘mitigate the environmental impact (of marine farms)’. The United Nations organisation has thus recognised the efficiency of multi-trophic systems in this regard.

Sources: AQUAHOY ACUICULTURAMARINA MAPA FAO.

Related news

28 - October 2019

#RetoGaiato continues this autumn

We’re very excited to continue our most humanitarian project: #RetoGaiato. And we have lots of good news to share and celebrate with you. First, the media continues to spread the word about our initiative. The latest example? MARCA, one of Spain’s leading sports newspapers, featured an incredible article about our latest challengers, Jorge García and Jesús González. Both participated in the […]

Read more
28 - October 2019

We collaborate with partners certified by the Marine Stewardship Council

Our Derwent Trading team is aware of the importance of social responsibility and committed to environmental conservation. We pay close attention to the origin and traceability of the products we sell, which is why we have recently strengthened our relationships with partners and collaborators certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Read more
28 - October 2019

We participate in two dog shows in Vizcaya

In September, Muskiz (Vizcaya) hosted two important dog competitions. On the 7th and 8th, the Sociedad Canina de Bizkaia (Bizkaia Kennel Club) celebrated the 55th National Dog Show and the 54th International Dog Show, major events in the sector in which around 1,400 dogs participated.

Read more
28 - October 2019

We attend Aqua Nor 2019

A new edition of Aqua Nor, the world’s largest aquaculture technology fair and an important meeting place for sector professionals, was held from August 20 to 23 in Trondheim (Norway). And we attended and enjoyed a number of seminars, conferences, presentations and debates about the current state of aquaculture.

Read more