Circularity in Aquatic Food Production


About this course

Seafood will increasingly contribute to the growing demand for sufficient and healthy food worldwide. Hence, substantial growth of the aquaculture sector is foreseen. At the same time the topic of ‘Circular food production’ is high on political agendas to ensure that growth of food production takes place in a sustainable manner. This course will outline how the development of aquaculture can play a role in circular strategies at sea. We will focus on valorization of marine systems through low trophic production (micro-algae, seaweed, shellfish and benthos). During the course you will explore frameworks to assess ecological sustainability of seafood production, and develop insights in the balance between provisioning of ecosystem services and ecological trade-offs of large scale seaweed/shellfish farming onto natural capital (Environmental Impact Assessment including biodiversity, carbon capture, nutrient cycling and carrying capacity), taking into account other maritime functions at sea. You will also be trained in reading and reflecting on scientific papers in this matter. Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is a typical example of circular farming, aiming for climate robust production systems with minimal negative effects on the ecosystem. The concept of IMTA is used as an example to provide insight in the circularity of aquatic farming systems in Europe and Asia considering waste turnover efficiencies (coupling physiology to ecology to define nutrient recycling potential), and it will be demonstrated how innovations in farm design and management can influence (ecological) sustainability.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • outline the challenges and opportunities for seaweed and shellfish production in the context of circular aquatic food systems;
  • thoroughly read and reflect on scientific papers in the context of aquatic food production;
  • discuss how circular aquatic food production contributes to sustainable global food production;
  • summarize a number of farm-ecosystem interactions and understand how Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessments are used to evaluate these interactions;
  • explain how environmental factors drive the physiology and ecological functioning of micro-algae, seaweed and shellfish and how this varies between natural and IMTA systems;
  • establish and explain nutrient balances of seaweeds and other low trophic species in mono-culture and in Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) systems and define nutrient turnover efficiencies;
  • integrate the disciplines of low trophic production, circularity, sustainability, and IMTA as a whole in societal, economic and ecological value creation.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    6 January 2025

    • Ends
      31 January 2025
    • Term *
      Period 3
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 24 Nov 2024
These offerings are valid for students of TU Eindhoven