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Ecotoxicological risk assessment of potentially toxic chemicals

 

The annual meeting of the H2020 TAPAS Project (Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability) was held in Malta between the 4th and 5th  of April.

The meeting was attended by more than 30 scientists from several countries of the European Union. Andreu Rico, researcher of the Aquatic Ecotoxicology group of IMDEA Water, attended the meeting and contributed to draft a research agenda for the coming months.

IMDEA Water will be involved in four case studies related to the environmental risk assessment of hazardous chemical substances. The first case study will take place in Denmark, and will focus on the assessment of the fate and environmental risks associated to the use of sea-lice treatments in salmon farms. The second will be held in Hungary, and will focus on the risk assessment of manure, containing antibiotic residues, on freshwater aquaculture ponds. The third will take place in Greece, and will look at the environmental impacts of copper-based antifouling substances. Finally, the fourth will take place in Murcia (Spain), and will aim at understanding the ecological risks posed by metals and antibiotic compounds used in marine aquaculture farms, paying special attention to the toxic effects posed by these substances to the marine benthic macrofauna.

The H2020 TAPAS project led by the University of Stirling (UK) and formed by 15 partners from 10 European countries will address this challenge by supporting member states to establish a coherent and efficient regulatory framework aimed at sustainable growth. TAPAS will use a requirements analysis to evaluate existing regulatory and licensing frameworks across the EU, taking account of the range of production environments and specificities and emerging approaches such as offshore technologies, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, and integration with other sectors. TAPAS will propose new, flexible approaches to open methods of coordination, working to unified, common standards. TAPAS will also evaluate existing tools for economic assessment of aquaculture sustainability affecting sectoral growth. TAPAS will critically evaluate the capabilities and verification level of existing ecosystem planning tools and will develop new approaches for evaluation of carrying capacities, environmental impact and future risk. TAPAS will improve existing and develop new models for far- and near-field environmental assessment providing better monitoring, observation, forecasting and early warning technologies. The innovative methodologies and components emerging from TAPAS will be integrated in an Aquaculture Sustainability Toolbox complemented by a decision support system to support the development and implementation of coastal and marine spatial planning enabling less costly, more transparent and more efficient licensing.

Within the TAPAS project, the Ecotoxicology group of the IMDEA Water Institute will be particularly involved in the ecotoxicological risk assessment of potentially toxic chemicals. The main research tasks will be:

  • improvement of environmental modelling tools
  • development of appropriate environmental quality standards
  • ecotoxicological risk assessment of chemicals in several freshwater and marine aquaculture production scenarios.