Welcome to the SWEEP Aquaculture Resource Hub!

Here you can access key information and tools for assessing the impacts of land use on water quality, and the viability of coastal bivalve aquaculture in the UK and South West England in particular. We will continue to add to these resources.

If you want to learn more please contact Ross Brown (ross.brown@exeter.ac.uk).

The SWEEP Aquaculture Impact Project ‘Water quality management underpinning sustainable aquaculture and its expansion in South West England’ has a dedicated project page where you can find out more about that work, and the team involved.

The project has generated a number of outputs ranging from reports and papers to tools and guidance. You’ll find these by following the link below.

Project Outputs

Project lead and contact

Dr Ross Brown
SWEEP Impact Fellow
Professor Melanie Austen
SWEEP Marine Co-Lead
Dr Yuri Artoli
Professor Ian J Bateman
SWEEP Director

Ian is Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Exeter Business School. As the SWEEP Director, Ian is responsible for ensuring that the Partnership delivers major real-world improvements in the economy, communities and natural environment of the region. This is achieved through the variety of projects which SWEEP undertakes.

Professor Richard Brazier
SWEEP Water and Business Lead
Dr Donna Carless
SWEEP Impact Fellow / Co-Investigator
Professor Brett Day
SWEEP Natural Capital Markets Lead
Dr Benjamin Jackson
SWEEP Impact Fellow

Benjamin works on the SWEEP 003 (Leak Detection) and 009 (Whole catchment) projects. He is a Physical Geographer, with a background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), environmental modelling and river catchment management. He has worked on projects relating to flooding in river/wastewater networks, low-flow hydrology, and chemical risk assessment.

Dr Peter Miller
Earth Observation Scientist
Dr Mandy Robinson
SWEEP Impact Fellow
Dr Ricardo Torres
Systems Modeller
Professor Charles Tyler
SWEEP Water Co-Lead
Sara Zonneveld
SWEEP Impact Fellow

Sara is an Impact Fellow for SWEEP 004, working on natural capital approaches in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. She is a biologist with a background in ecology and ornithology.  Sara has been based at the University of Exeter since 2013, where she previously carried out research on Dartmoor’s moorland birds.

Publications and reports

Policy Briefs

Supporting mariculture development: Evidence for informed regulation

This project bought together experts from the fields of marine planning, regulation, management, science, and industry to explore opportunities to streamline regulatory processes and clarify evidence requirements for emerging marine aquaculture (mariculture) developments focused on the South-west. An interactive workshop included exercises to help identify key actions needed to support sustainable development of novel and emerging mariculture practices (e.g. seaweed farming) building on the licensing of traditional practices (e.g. shellfish farming). Case studies included marine licensing, aquaculture strategy, mariculture planning in association with fishing, and mariculture developments around MPAs. The workshop generated broad agreement between the attending regulating bodies, scientists and industry for the sustainable development of mariculture industry in the South West. Information from this workshop was used to synthesise a Policy brief and Policy statement which have since fed into the English Aquaculture Strategy.

The work was funded by Research England’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

Daniels, C., Ashton, I., Brown, R., Martin, J., Tyler, C., Ryan, K., Mynott, S., Kaye, R. (Eds) (2020) Supporting Mariculture Development: Evidence for Informed Regulation. Policy Brief. 21pp. ‌‌Download policy brief here

Daniels, C., Ashton, I., Brown, R., Martin, J., Tyler, C., Ryan, K., Mynott, S., Kaye, R. (Eds) (2020) Supporting Mariculture Development: Evidence for Informed Regulation. Policy Statement. 5pp. ‌Download policy statement here

Developing general rules to facilitate evidence-based policy for mariculture development in and around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in England

Evidence-based policy is required to facilitate sustainable growth in UK aquaculture. This requires optimising species selection and aquaculture technologies and seeks to complement, rather than conflict with, other marine uses, including marine conservation. We conducted a regional case study for SW England, supported by the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) and Natural England. The report provides a synthesis of evidence and recent developments in marine policy-making and decision support tools for enabling the sustainable development of mariculture sites, species and technologies in and around marine protected areas (MPAs).

The work was funded by Research England’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

Brown AR, Daniels C, Jeffery K, Tyler CR (2020). Potential for marine aquaculture development in and around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in England. Policy Brief. 13pp. Download policy brief here

Brown, AR., Daniels, C., Jeffery, K., Bateman, P., Tyler, CR (2020). Developing general rules to facilitate evidence-based policy for mariculture development in and around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in England. Report to Research England (Strategic Priorities Fund).  30pp. Download policy report here

Water Quality and Aquaculture Modelling Tools

  • Acid herbicide catchment wash-off scenario exploration tool

    The Acid herbicide catchment wash-off scenario exploration tool can be used to explore the potential impacts of acid herbicides on phytoplankton in South West’s estuaries. Using a simple logic chain risk assessment process, it has been designed to provide a means for simple, high-level analysis and exploration of the relative risks from acid herbicide wash-off from agricultural land during periods of intense rainfall. The approach is easily adaptable to incorporate new catchments, chemicals and future scenarios.

    Details of the tool are set out in the guidance report and the spreadsheet tool is available from Dr Ross Brown (Ross.Brown@exeter.ac.uk).

    An application of the tool to five catchments within South West England (Camel, Clyst, Exe, Kenn, Taw & Torridge) is set out in this assessment report.

  • The ERSEM Model

    ERSEM is an ecosystem model of marine biogeochemistry and the lower trophic levels of the marine food-web. ERSEM (European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model), has grown in scale and scope in recent years. It addresses biogeochemical and ecological systems in many applications in global regional seas and more recently the global ocean, engaging in a range of problem-solving, predictive and impact studies.

  • ShellSim

    ShellSIM simulates interrelations between suspension-feeding bivalve shellfish and the environment, with outputs that quantify consequences for shellfish production, water quality and ecological status.This is a dynamic model, based upon common principles of energy balance (illustrated below), using differential equations that define functional physiological responses to environmental change. Time-varying rates of feeding and metabolism are simulated as component processes in the prediction of individual growth, reproduction and condition, the individual being treated as an input-output system with size and energy content as state variables.

  • Integrated Catchment (INCA) model

    INCA is a processed based dynamic model representation of plant/soil system dynamics and instream biogeochemical and hydrological dynamics. The INCA model has been used to assess a wide range of environmental change issues in catchments including land-use change, climate change and changing pollution environments including point and diffuse pollution. The model has been applied to a wide range of key European ecosystems. http://www.reading.ac.uk/geographyandenvironmentalscience/research/INCA/

    Within the SWEEP Aquaculture project, we have developed and applied INCA-Pathogens, INCA-Metals and INCA-N (Nitrogen) to assess the effects of current and possible future land use and management on water quality and shellfish aquaculture in estuaries and coastal waters around South West England. For further information please contact SWEEP@exeter.ac.uk


English Aquaculture Strategy: Final Report (November 2020)

Published on 26 November 2020, the English Aquaculture Strategy sets out a vision and plan for a ten-fold increase in food production from farmed finfish, shellfish and seaweed, amounting to over 90,000 tonnes collectively*, by 2040. This comprehensive strategy developed by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd and supported by the Seafish and Defra SeaFood 2040 Strategic Framework, supports the sector in its efforts to increase its contribution to England’s food security, seafood consumption, and job growth.
*Production targets for 2040 (compared to 2020 baseline): Finfish 40,900 tonnes (+550% from 6,290 tonnes); Shellfish 37,300 tonnes (+966% from 3,500 tonnes); Seaweed 13,000 tonnes (+260000% from ~5 tonnes).
A full report on the strategy, a summary document highlighting growth opportunities and plans for delivery, and a brief overview of key strategic principles and objectives are available to download from the Seafish website at www.seafish.org/seafood-2040-english-aquaculture-strategy

Read about SWEEP’s contributions to the English Aquaculture Strategy, which was published on 26 November 2020.

SeaFood 2040 Strategy

The Seafood 2040 Strategic Framework (Seafood 2040) is a plan for a seafood industry in England that is thriving and sustainable. There are 25 recommendations based around three priorities: 1) Maximise sustainable wild catch opportunities; 2) Grow a sustainable aquaculture sector; 3) Enable business growth. The overall objective is to double UK seafood consumption to 2 portions of seafood a week, bringing substantial benefits to the economy and the nation’s health. Seafood is widely recognised as our healthiest source of protein and also contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B and D, and key essential minerals including iron, iodine, selenium, zinc and potassium. SeaFood 2040 website.

Webinar: Catchment-based approaches for water quality management (Nick Paling, Westcountry Rivers Trust)


Dorset and East Devon Aquaculture

Your pathway to investing in Dorset and East Devon Aquaculture. A comprehensive source of information for business development, including MMO Marine Information System; CEFAS aquaculture opportunity mapping; sources of funding, sources of advice on licensing and permissions, fish health and hygiene, shellfish quality classification, biotoxin information and monitoring. Visit the Dorset and East Devon Aquaculture website.

Devon and Severn IFCA Mariculture Strategy

This Mariculture Strategy aims to “…highlight core areas where the IFCA may have the opportunity to work with the mariculture sector to evaluate and advance mariculture opportunities and provide information to those interested in entering this sector.” Download the Devon and Severn IFCA Mariculture Strategy

Poole Harbour Shellfish Management

This Management Plan sets out how Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) manage fisheries and aquaculture within a defined area of Poole Harbour under The Poole Harbour Dredge Permit Byelaw; The Poole Harbour Fishery Order 2015; The Poole Harbour Several Order 2015 Management Plan (2020). Read more at: https://www.southern-ifca.gov.uk/poole-harbour-fisheries

Assessing and Mitigating the risks of Harmful Algal Blooms

  • A critical review and analysis of HAB impacts on mariculture (and wild capture fisheries) and recommended research to identify ways to minimise their impacts to the industry.
    Brown AR, Lilley M, Shutler J, Lowe C, Artioli A, Torres R, Berdalet E, Tyler CR (2019). ‘Assessing risks and mitigating impacts of harmful algal blooms on mariculture and marine fisheries’. Reviews in Aquaculture 12(3):1663-1688. https://doi.org/10.1111/raq.12403



HAB early warning services


Future land-use scenarios and links to South West aquaculture

A new paper published by SWEEP academics considers the effect of land-use change on water quality and the marine aquaculture (mariculture) sector….

Artificial Intelligence could help predict harmful algal blooms

A new project will develop Artificial Intelligence tools to predict harmful blooms of algae in the ocean. Harmful algal blooms…

Forthcoming Events

Green space and adolescent health and wellbeing: More than just skate parks?
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In this seminar, we’re delighted to welcome Dr Danni Sinnett, Associate Professor in Green Infrastructure and the Director of Centre…