Professor Ricardo Salgado, of the Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal (Portugal) introduces the OSTRAQUAL project, which is expected to benefit aquaculture companies, local governments, and environmental stakeholders.
The OSTRAQUAL (Enhancing and promoting the oyster aquaculture quality in the Sado and Mira region (Portugal)) project is a multidisciplinary research project which is designed to improve and increase oyster aquaculture production. This will include exploring changes in water quality, as well as the way oysters are handled in aquaculture and by the evaluation of the nutritional quality of the oyster product.
The Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal, through the Research Centre for Energy and Environment (CINEA), is leading the project along with Polytechnic Institute of Beja, the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere, and regional companies Neptunpearl Lda, Bivalsado Lda, and Viveiros do Rio Mira Lda as partners.
What are the objectives of the project?
The project will create a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform with the necessary information to perform data analyses, the planning of activities and the management of assets, the environmental management of natural resources, infrastructure management, maritime spatial planning, and a decision making model for the aquaculture management of the Sado and Mira rivers.
We will also study the growth and reproductive cycle of oysters in the Mira river, especially of the Portuguese oyster (C agulata) in the natural banks to preserve the genetic diversity of the species in the wild and to aid in planning the collection of seeds by oyster collectors in order to produce it in aquaculture.
The characterisation of reproductive physiology associated to the Portuguese oyster is an important tool for improving the efficiency of the entire production chain of this species and the sustainability of the species in the natural ecosystem.
Measuring of on-site physical and chemical parameters will also be undertaken, as will the collection of water samples and oysters in the Sado and Mira aquaculture to obtain information about the water quality, sediment and health status and characteristics of the oysters and how these parameters may affect their growth. This management tool will warn oyster farmers about the potential problems that may occur in aquaculture, acting as an alert system to avoid economic losses and to keep aquaculture activity sustainable.
We will also create promotional information based on scientific information in order to prove the excellent quality of the oysters produced in the Sado and Mira regions. This will be disseminated throughout the community.
What are the expected outcomes of the project?
The project is committed to the production of a management tool which will help producers to understand the changes related to water quality, how it can affect production, and how to handle these changes. It will be very important to preserve the natural ecosystem by using best practices in aquaculture production so as to maintain ecosystem sustainability.
The relationship with the natural environment influences the growth and reproduction cycle of the oysters, and this will also be a part of the study in order to define the best seasons to collect oyster seeds and the highest production periods.
Based on the project results, it will be possible to develop an integrated management model based on best practices and then to create promotional material that will benefit regional stakeholders. The promotion and dissemination of the scientific results and the management model to the scientific community and stakeholders will establish the best marketing strategies to increase sales in the national market and through help to promote the internationalisation of Portuguese aquaculture.
Research Centre for Energy and Environment (CINEA)
Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal
+351 265 790 000
This is a commercial article that will appear in SciTech Europa Quarterly issue 27, which will be published in June, 2018.