SARF003: Development of a GIS-based tool to assist planning of aquaculture developments

Start Date: 10/01/2005
End Date: 09/01/2006
Main Contractor(s): Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling
Other Sponsor(s):  


The objective of this research would be to: Develop a preliminary GIS-based tool encompassing a case study area, which can model the actual and/or future implications of fish farms on environmentally sensitive parameters, areas or places of conservation interest in the coastal area of Scotland. This will be through detailed modelling based on case study areas. This tool could be further developed for the whole of the Scottish coastline through specialised GIS programs and WWW tools. This will be done using a number of interim objectives:

1) Map sites through GIS which are environmentally sensitive and of conservation importance in relation to aquaculture location using exsiting databases and information available.

2) Implement modelling through GIS using existing dispersal models to investigate the impact of fish cages on these sensitive habitats.

3) Formulate "what-if" senarios to look for alternative sites for exisiting and future fish farm developments.

4) Rationalize the results from sensitivity mapping, environmental impacts modelling and "what-if" scienarios to develop a final decision support tool for use by trained personnel at appropriate organisations, and in a format that could be developed into a web-based system in the future.

5) Training in the use of the intial tool developed through the project.


The Institute of Aquaculture intends to develop a GIS-based framework that will assist regulatory bodies and other interested persons to assess and minimize impacts on sensitive species and habitats of conservation concern. Existing datasets will be used to develop decision modules, with appropriate weighting, that allows informed decisions to be taken on future aquaculture development and site selection. Preliminary modelling will be achieved specifically for case study areas. Core activities encompass database generation, model development and validation. Based upon an initial case study the GIS-based tool will be formatted to allow expansion and future development through specialized and WWW tools.