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The Laboratory of Dr. Thierry Chopin is part of a large interdisciplinary team working on the development of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems.

IMTA is the practice which combines, in appropriate proportions, the cultivation of fed aquaculture species (e.g. finfish/shrimp) with inorganic extractive aquaculture species (e.g. seaweed) and organic extractive aquaculture species (e.g. shellfish/herbivorous fish) to create a balanced ecosystem management approach to aquaculture for environmental sustainability (biomitigation), economic stability (product diversification and risk reduction) and societal acceptability (better management practices).

The aim is to increase long-term sustainability and profitability per cultivation unit (not per species in isolation as is done in monoculture), as the by-products (wastes) of one crop (fed animals) are converted into fertilizer, food and energy for the other crops (extractive plants and animals), which can in turn be sold on the market. Feed is one of the core operational costs of finfish aquaculture operations. Through IMTA, some of the food, nutrients and energy considered lost in finfish monoculture are recaptured and converted into crops of commercial value, while biomitigation takes place. In this way all the cultivation components have an economic value, as well as a key role in services and recycling processes of the system, the harvesting of the different types of crops participating in the export of nutrients out of the coastal ecosystem.

Contrary to monoculture, IMTA takes advantage of organisms functioning at different trophic or nutritional levels. It is based on an age-old, common-sense, recycling and farming practice in which the solution to nutrification is not dilution but conversion within an ecosystem-based management perspective. Production can, then, be diversified and remain environmentally responsible and economically profitable – thereby ensuring a sustainable aquaculture sector. Multi-trophic integration appears to be the logical next step in the evolution of aquaculture practices in New Brunswick and worldwide.

The Laboratory of Dr. Thierry Chopin works on seaweeds, the inorganic extractive component of the IMTA system being developed in the Bay of Fundy, in Eastern Canada, taking it from experimental research, to development and scale-up commercialization (R&D&C from concept to adopted practice).

Tell me more?

Want to know more? Browse through the links on the left. You can learn about the lab and its members (present and past) to see the research we are doing. You can head over to the audio/visual section to see multi-media content, including our project movies. Check out the multi facets of IMTA that our project is part of. Or, to browse through some articles, visit the the papers/articles section.