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FINO 3 Pilot Update – May 2024

Significant milestones were reached by installing and preparing the German North Sea pilot’s aquaculture systems to host low-tropic species on site.

The German North Sea FINO 3 pilot has achieved a significant milestone in maintaining and expanding the systems at its aquaculture site, essential for hosting low-trophic aquaculture species.

In December, delineation buoys marking the research area were successfully installed. Each buoy is equipped with a GPS tracker and a satellite link for remote position monitoring. Concurrently, the FINO team installed a remote monitoring camera on the FINO3 platform, providing visual, real-time feedback of the buoys and aquaculture system.

With favorable weather conditions, the project partners successfully installed and maintained the mussel system. A crucial development was the addition of six support buoys, enabling the testing of three different buoy shapes to determine their suitability for the dynamic environment. This installation coincides with the onset of the blue mussel spat fall, with spat collection planned on four different substrate types now present at the site.

During the maintenance trip, samples were collected from the growing blue mussels and the surrounding flora and fauna attached to the system. The mussel samples provided valuable data on growth behavior, informing economic business models with site-specific information. As filtration-feeding organisms, mussel growth is influenced by phytoplankton succession. Water samples were regularly collected and analyzed with the assistance of partner bbe Moldaenke.

Initial findings indicate high chlorophyll values due to the significant presence of microalgae, primarily dinoflagellates. The goal is to install a remote monitoring system, the “PhycoProbe,” which can differentiate between the main classes of microalgae that serve as food for mussels and detect potential harmful algal blooms that could affect the mussels’ suitability for human consumption.

Preparations for an oyster grow-out system are nearing completion. Nearshore testing and a well-integrated system are crucial for installing this fully submerged bottom system in the high-energy offshore environment at FINO3. This system aims to provide site-specific growth data while being adapted to wave dynamics by avoiding them, as water currents are significantly less intense at a depth of 25 meters.

This setup combines innovative design informed by expert consultation and integrates well-established oyster baskets with an acoustic release system for cage recovery.

Figure 1: Collection of pictures from the maintenance trip to the FINO3 location, 82 km offshore within the North Sea.

Figure 2: Testing of the Acoustic Release System, Scheme taken from: https://www.innovasea.com/fish-tracking/products/acoustic-release-solutions/, picture from the actual equipment testing.

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