A new project will develop Artificial Intelligence tools to predict harmful blooms of algae in the ocean.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) produce biotoxins, which can accumulate in shellfish and poison human consumers. Blooms resulting in excessive growth of algae can also severely lower oxygen levels in water, potentially killing fish and other marine life. HABs are a global problem with huge economic consequences that are increasing in frequency and impact, apparently in conjunction with climate change and increasing coastal development.
The new £200,000 project is being led by Cornwall Port Health Authority and supported by the University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). This project has been made possible by a grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Through the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Futures and SWEEP, University of Exeter researchers will work to develop and trial a range of innovative technologies for monitoring and modelling the development of harmful algal blooms (HABs).
Dr Andy Turner, from CEFAS, said: “This project will help develop a predictive approach for assessing natural toxin occurrence, which can ultimately benefit business in the region, aiding the safe supply of shellfish and reduced risks to the health of human consumers of shellfish.”
Dr Ross Brown, from the University of Exeter (Sustainable Aquaculture Futures), said: “This work is particularly pertinent to hotspots in south-west Cornwall, where the frequency and duration of seasonal blooms of warm water HABs species could increase substantially with climate change.”
“Predicting HABs using artificial intelligence could pave the way for exciting developments in the sector, bringing benefits to British businesses and consumers alike.”
The University of Exeter has launched a ‘Green Futures’ campaign and website to drive action on the environment and climate emergency. To find out more please visit https://greenfutures.exeter.ac.uk