Propagating Seaweed for a Sustainable Future

Mermaid - Project Closed


This is an FP7-project with that will run from 2012 up till and including 2015.

The exact details of the project can be found on this page:


Start Date: 1st of January 2012

End Date: 31st of December 2015

Duration: 48 months


Project Website:

Project Intro


The EU energy strategy “Energy 2020” has the objective of reducing greenhouse gasses

by at least 20%. To reach this goal up to 140 GW of offshore wind farms are currently planned. As a result, offshore wind farms will take up large areas of available ocean space.


Even though the European Union is well placed to profit on the global growth in aquaculture, the production of the European aquaculture industry has stagnated. Lack of space, access to good quality water, and a very strict EU legislation for protection of the environment limit the further development of this industry. On top of this, the industry is characterized by small and medium sized companies that have difficulties in attracting seed and risk friendly capital.


The extensive offshore developments which will take place within the next 10 years will have to be optimized in order to reduce the energy costs, to find sufficient ocean space for both aquaculture and renewable resources but at the same time minimize the negative environmental impact.


Therefore MERMAID will develop concepts for the next generation of offshore platforms which can be used for multiple purposes. The project does not envisage building new platforms, but will theoretically examine new concepts, such as combining structures for energy extraction, aquaculture and platform related transport.


Project Aim/Goals


In order to fulfill EU strategies for reduction of fossil-based energy and to become a major player in sustainable aquaculture the MERMAID project aims to address the following key-questions:


• What are the best practices to develop a project on multi-use platforms?

• What are the accumulated effects of large scale structures on the marine environment?

• What are the best strategies for installation, maintenance and operation of a

multi-purpose offshore platform?

• What is the economical and environmental feasibility of multi-use platforms?


It is essential that all work under the MERMAID project contributes directly towards real

design concepts and industrial applications. For this reason test sites will be studied

to develop innovative plans and designs for harvesting ocean energy, aquaculture

and logistic support.


Example of multi-use management of a wind farm. The wind turbine density

is artificially high to facilitate the presentation of the concept. From left to right:

diving, scientific studies, aquaculture, fishing, tourism.


© Denis Lacroix, Ifremer and Malo Lacroix

(Source: Lacroix and Pioch, 2011, p.133).


“The Mermaid project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework

Programme (FP7/2007-2013) for research, technological development and demonstration

under grant agreement n° 288710.”



Role of Hortimare within the Project


Hortimare plays an intensive role in Work Package 4 with the highlight in tasks 4.1 and 4.2 as well as a minor role in Work Package 7.


The general objective of WP4 is to develop, test and document sustainable and environmental-friendly and cost –efficient offshore production systems. Based on present and near-future market demands offshore fish farming (salmon and trout in NE Atlantic/Baltic, seabream and seabass in the Mediterranean) has the strongest potential, followed by shellfish culture (mussels, oysters and carpet shells) while seaweed (e.g. Saccharina) production should been seen as supportive element acting as mitigating nutrient release and a novel wave damping device protecting the other aquaculture production units. Harvested seaweed could be used as high-value products or in biorefinery processes.


Seen from commercial perspective most offshore farms seem over-developed and too costly. Fish farms moored offshore in high-energy environments, experience numerous environmental conditions that differ from near-shore aquaculture farms, including exposure to strong wind and waves from all directions creating severe conditions that can prevent operators from being able to access their farms for longer periods.


Aquaculture developments also at offshore locations raise issues of concern in terms of environmental impacts and ecosystem health. For aquaculture systems to be sustainable, they should not cause damage to natural systems by critically increasing (e.g. nutrients) or decreasing the concentrations of natural substances (e.g. chlorophyll). Other potential impacts relate to increasing concentration of man-made substances, such as persistent chemicals and through physical disturbance leading to habitat changes. Besides, at increasing distance from coast and larger depth, abundance of pelagic larvae from epibenthic organisms generally decrease making nets, rings and anchor ropes less vulnerable to fouling. In effect, offshore aquaculture could also lead reduced needs of antifouling paints thereby reducing environmental impacts.


The main objective of WP7 is to develop at study sites innovative plans and design for multi-purpose off-shore platforms. This will be achieved by integrating the work within the other WPs and by developing an integrated multidisciplinary approach for the selection of a sustainable platform plan and design.


The MERMAID studies will combine results from all other WPs in real world demonstration. Each pilot study research manager will be located close to the site itself and will have direct links with industrial, legal and societal institutions concerned to marine spatial planning, platform installation and management. A series of possible design options and industrial interaction will be scoped and implemented on a site by site basis. The extent and focus of this interaction will vary from site to site and will depend upon the existence and or flexibility of policies and social, economic and environmental management schemes or constraints.


Two specific tools are envisaged and make up important deliverables of the project:


a report to describe the design process at study sites, through application of the methodologies and outcomes derived from all the other WPs.

an integrated procedure, detailed into a guideline book, for planning and designing off-shore platforms.




Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

Alma Mater Studiorum Universita di Bolgna, Italy

Universidad de Cantabria, Spain

Stichting Deltares, The Netherlands

DHI, ...

Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee VZW, Belgium

Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek, The Netherlands

Statoil Petroleum AS, ....

Instituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale, Italy

Technische Universitaet Braunschweig, Germany

Havforskningsinstituttet, Norway

The Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation, Cyprus

Hortimare, The Netherlands

Universita degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy

Hvalpsund Net AS, Denmark

Bolding & Burchard APS, ...

Instytut Budownictwa Wodnego Poslkiej, Poland

Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, Turkey

Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

Musholm AS, ...

Dansk Akvakultur, Denmark

University of Dundee, United Kingdom

ECN, The Netherlands

Dong Energy Power AS, Denmark

Enel Ingegneria e Innovazione SpA, Italy

Kefalonia Fisheries Industrial and Commercial Company AE, Greece

University of Athens, Greece

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