What if we could hack the origin of microplastics that reach aquaculture cages? What if we could also provide recommendations for where to place aquaculture cages to decrease the probability of pollutants reaching them? It is now commonly known that tiny pieces of littered trash in the ocean can end up in fish. If humans then consume these fish (as intended for fish cultured in farms), there are potential threats to human health.

The Particle Trackers is a group of eight early-career ocean professionals based in the Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, and the United States.  During the Blue-Cloud hackathon, the Particle Trackers tackled both questions above. The method includes back-tracking the pathways of anthropogenic (innate) pollutants from aquaculture cages to beaches or rivers in the Mediterranean. The team used the open-access Lagrangian framework, OceanParcels to track particles, alongside a Bayesian analysis to determine probabilities of pollutant pathways. They also forward-tracked the pathways starting from highly polluted beaches or rivers and determine where the particles are least likely to end up. This provides advice on where to place future aquaculture cages.

The data used include the location of the aquaculture farms provided by Blue-Cloud and the hydrodynamic data (CMEMS). The physical parameters included in the simulations include advective fields, wind stress, wave height, seawater density (and possibly others). The team worked in Jupyter notebook in Python.

The overall aim of the pilot is to provide the locations and conditions for safer, pollutant-free fish to be farmed in aquaculture cages. This will result in higher yields and better food security.
 


The Challenge


FEEDING THE WORLD - Challenge: 2B

How might we balance our need to source healthy food from the Ocean to feed the World today with the need to secure a healthy Ocean for future generations? 

Aquaculture has a crucial role in meeting the challenge of feeding a growing population while reducing the environmental impacts of food production. It has already overtaken fisheries as the main source of fish for human consumption. But aquaculture also poses risks to the marine environment. And it is affected by marine events that impact its productivity. With your help, we can make smarter aquaculture choices to feed the World without harming the Ocean.

Thi pilot joined Challenge 2B: Maximizing food return, minimizing risks. Where might we place floating aquaculture farms in open and wild seas to get  maximum “food return” with minimum risks? 

Discover the Blue-Cloud Hackathon and its challenges

The Particle Trackers

  • Team Lead
    Belgium
  • Co-developer
    Spain
  • Other
    Netherlands
  • Other
    Netherlands
  • Co-developer
    Netherlands
  • Visualisation expert
    Mexico
  • Co-developer
  • Co-developer
    Netherlands