Hydrodynamic modelling for sustainable aquaculture : Placement with Marine Scotland Science

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Energy, Geosci, Infrast & Society

Abstract

Aquaculture is a major part of the Scottish economy, turning over £1.8bn annually and employing around 8000 people, predominantly in rural areas. Scottish salmon is exported to over 50 countries at a rate of 160,000 tonnes/year [1].

To operate and to effectively regulate aquaculture, it is important to understand the water circulation around fish farms. This is because the currents affect both the movement of the larvae of pests such as sea lice between farms, and the spread of treatment agents that are used to control such pests. Relatively simple models exist for this purpose in some locations, but they cover only limited areas and so their use for connectivity studies at a regional scale is limited.

The Scottish Government funded the development of a set of new state-of-the-art hydrodynamic models of the wider Scottish continental shelf waters, known as the Scottish Shelf Model (SSM). This has a resolution of approx. 1km over most of its domain, as well as nested higher-resolution (~50-100m) nested models in selected areas. The development of these models is managed by Marine Scotland Science and is freely available to the marine science community and stakeholders.

In June 2017 Marine Scotland Science held a workshop with industrial stakeholders to discuss the future direction of work on this model, and received strong guidance from members of the aquaculture industry that additional sub-models, of even higher resolution, would be beneficial for certain regions including Shetland and the Clyde estuary. By having these models nested within the larger SSM it would be possible to gain both high-resolution local information, and indications of where farms in different regions may affect one another.

This proposed project is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University, Marine Scotland Science, and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. It will develop new fine-resolution regional hydrodynamic models, and integrate these into the SSM framework. These models will be validated by comparison with new and existing measurements of current flow. State-of-the-art computational tools will be used to simulate larval transport within and between regions, providing information that can be used by operators and regulators to improve the performance, profitability and environmental footprint of the Scottish aquaculture industry. The new models will also be of interest to academic stakeholders; by providing new information on the circulation of water at a fine scale they could inform work in fields such as marine ecology, oceanography, and renewable energy.


References
[1] http://scottishaquaculture.com/scottish_aquaculture_aboutus/scottish-aquaculture/ (accessed 25/06/2017)

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The Scottish Shelf Model is a suite of hydrodynamic models that are maintained by Marine Scotland Science for all users in the the marine science community and marine stakeholders. This placement has resulted in new high-resolution models for the Clyde Sea (complete) and Shetland (awaiting validation). The choice of these two areas for new models was in response to demand from the aquaculture industry, where they will help to predict the environmental impacts of fish farms and aid our understanding of biological connectivity between aquaculture management areas. Other likely uses of the models are marine planning, prediction of where litter drifts in the sea (currently a pressing issue in the Clyde), and study of the potential for, and environmental effects of, tidal energy in Shetland.
The Clyde model has already been used by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and aquaculture firm MOWI, who plan to use it to aid in consenting, and minimising the impacts of, a new site with an annual production of up to £2m.
Exploitation Route Marine Scotland Science plan to finish the Shetland model, and to use both of them to study biological connectivity. They will be made available to the marine science community and will have relevance for a wide variety of activities, including aquaculture, pollution tracking, marine energy, marine spatial planning, etc.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment

 
Description Quote from MOWI (industrial user of model): "Your work on a Clyde Sea sub-model will also be very valuable for assessing the environmental effects of our site(s) there, one of which is a proposed new site and the other two are established sites with maximum consented biomass of 2500 tonnes. In the past, Mowi has achieved a pre-tax profitability of about £1 per kg of salmon, so a 2500 biomass farm may achieve an annual profit of £1.5M - £2M (taking into account the two-year production cycle). In the Clyde Sea, Mowi is therefore seeking production levels worth up to £6M in pre-tax profit per annum. Without adequate environmental impact assessments such economic performance could not be sustained. The development of regional hydrodynamic models in Scotland, such as the Clyde Sea sub-model of the SSM, therefore contributes substantially to the economy of the Highlands and Islands"
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Title SSM Clyde Sea 
Description Numerical hydrodynamic model of the Clyde Sea region of Scottish waters, using the FVCOM modelling system. New high-resolution model as part of the Scottish Shelf Model suite. Maintained by Marine Scotland Science and made available to the marine science community. Currently being used to study environmental effects of aquaculture. Other potential applications in oil spill modelling, litter tracking, marine spatial planning, etc. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Quote from MOWI (industrial user of model): "Your work on a Clyde Sea sub-model will also be very valuable for assessing the environmental effects of our site(s) there, one of which is a proposed new site and the other two are established sites with maximum consented biomass of 2500 tonnes. In the past, Mowi has achieved a pre-tax profitability of about £1 per kg of salmon, so a 2500 biomass farm may achieve an annual profit of £1.5M - £2M (taking into account the two-year production cycle). In the Clyde Sea, Mowi is therefore seeking production levels worth up to £6M in pre-tax profit per annum. Without adequate environmental impact assessments such economic performance could not be sustained. The development of regional hydrodynamic models in Scotland, such as the Clyde Sea sub-model of the SSM, therefore contributes substantially to the economy of the Highlands and Islands" 
URL http://www.marine.gov.scot/information/scottish-shelf-model-community
 
Title SSM Shetland 
Description Numerical hydrodynamic model of Shetland waters, using the FVCOM modelling system. New high-resolution model as part of the Scottish Shelf Model suite. Awaiting validation, which will be carried out by Marine Scotland Science staff. Once validated, will be used and maintained by Marine Scotland Science and made available to the marine science community. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact No impacts yet. Future uses of the model are expected for aquaculture, renewable energy, pollution tracking, marine spatial planning. 
URL http://www.marine.gov.scot/information/scottish-shelf-model-community
 
Description Placement with Marine Scotland Science 
Organisation Marine Scotland Science (MSS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Main placement for which this grant was awarded. Developed two new hydrodynamic models, in response to industry demand, which will be further developed and maintained by Marine Scotland Science.
Collaborator Contribution Supervision & advice. Use of licensed data sources and computing facilities. Ship time and use of instruments for collecting validation data.
Impact New Clyde Sea model is being used by Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and MOWI (aquaculture company, formerly Marine Harvest), for work related to aquaculture. MOWI estimate that a significant contribution will be made to assess enviornmental impacts of, and hence help with management and consenting of, existing and new projects with projected annual pre-tax profits of ~£6m.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Invited seminar at Lyell Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited to talk to Lyell Centre staff and students about my work with Marine Scotland Science. The Lyell Centre is a joint centre between Heriot-Watt University and the British Geological Survey.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Lab visits by local school children 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The lab has regular visits by small groups of 2-3 school children who are interested in careers in science. Each time I spend time talking to them about the work that I do, and their aspirations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Seminar at NOC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Gave a seminar about my research to staff and students at the University of Liverpool, as part of a seminar series organised by the National Oceanographic Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Skype A Scientist 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Participated in the "Skype A Scientist" scheme. I was put in touch with two teachers in the USA, one of whom followed through and arranged for me to spend an hour doing Q&A with her class. The topics covered hydrodynamic modelling, renewable energy resources, aquaculture, and life as a scientist.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.skypeascientist.com/