Reducing nutrient levels in coastal ecosystems (RaNTrans)

Reducing nutrient levels in coastal ecosystems (RaNTrans)

A critical environmental challenge of the Channel region is that coastal waterbodies used by humans have elevated nutrient levels caused by inputs of fertilisers and human waste. This water quality reduction causes excessive growth of plants (termed eutrophication). Coastal eutrophication results in the growth of green algal mats on intertidal mudflats covering thousands of hectares.

The RaNTrans project will be the first to develop and test innovative and cost-effective methods that will rapidly reduce algal mat coverage and contribute to reductions in nutrient levels. Using two sites per country, the partners will develop algal mat removal and nutrient reduction techniques specific for intertidal mudflats. These include:

  • Mechanical removal of algal mats
  • Feeding algal mats to polychaete worms and converting these to aquaculture feed
  • Establishing and optimising seaweed culture and European oyster aquaculture.

The project will also develop novel uses of algal mats by extracting chemicals with human health benefits. By developing the business potential of these sustainably produced outputs the project will show how biodiversity preservation and environmental improvements can underpin regional job creation as oysters, aquaculture feeds and seaweeds are multibillion-dollar industries.

The project’s goals are also to reduce nutrients that will not only generate societal and economic benefits, but 5 years post-project will increase the FCE percentage of TAC (Transitional and Coastal) water bodies with Good Ecological Status (GES) by 20%.

Within the RaNTrans project, Cefas will apply ecological models to the selected sites to predict seaweed biomass, nutrient uptake and interaction with phytoplankton. The models will investigate the potential benefits for nutrient management developed within the RaNTrans project. Cefas staff involved in the project include Elisa Capuzzo, John Aldridge and Jacky Read.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contribution for this project is €1,988,778.