sábado, 16 de junho de 2012

Oysters and Seaweed: Better Together?

Starting next month in Massachusetts’ Waquoit Bay, Scott Lindell, Director of the MBL’s Scientific Aquaculture Program, and his colleagues will grow the native red seaweed Gracilaria tikvahiae with Atlantic oysters. They’ll compare the growth performance and nitrogen removal potential of farming the two together versus farming oysters alone. The scientists hypothesize that multi-cropping shellfish and seaweed (scientifically referred to as macroalgae or sea vegetables by chefs) can be a more profitable business model and help clean coastal estuaries better than growing a single species.
Lindell thought of the idea two years ago while attending a conference focused on shellfish and seaweed aquaculture as a method for cleaning up degraded coastal waters. The approach, known as nutrient bioextraction, is the practice of farming and harvesting shellfish and seaweed for the purpose of removing nitrogen and other nutrients from natural water bodies.
While oyster aquaculture alone can be beneficial to local waters, there is evidence that co-culture with seaweed could greatly enhance nitrogen removal. “Harvesting aquacultured oysters removes twice the nitrogen that harvesting wild seaweed in the same area would yield,” explains Lindell. “However, we estimate that cultured Gracilaria can remove many times more nitrogen per year than cultured oysters in the same unit area depending on culture methods.”

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