Thursday, June 28, 2018

29/06/2018: Lighting up the oceans

by Duncan Ockendon, atg UV Technology, UK

Life on Planet Earth began in the sea, but it is only quite recently that we have begun to understand just how important the marine environment is to life on the land.

Centuries of industrial pollution and over-fishing have left our oceans in a parlous state: poisoned by microplastics and unable to absorb the carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels. All this at a time when we are intensifying aquaculture to feed an ever-increasing population. If fish farming is to be profitable in the long term it has to be sustainable, and that means healthy fish in a healthy environment. We are living in an aquacultural revolution whose impact will be every bit as great as that of the agricultural revolution in the 18th century.

The key to fish health and the minimisation of mortality is the control of parasites and pathogenic bacteria, and farms and hatcheries are particularly vulnerable. Fish farms are often located in close proximity, so effluent discharges from one can pose a significant threat of contamination to another.

Chemical disinfection of wastewater prior to discharge prevents this type of cross contamination but does not address the problem of fish health within the fam. One solution is the use of specific medication like antibiotics and de-lousing agents such as diflubenzuron and teflubenzuron, to treat disease once it has been detected, but consumers increasingly demand chemical and antibiotic free products.

In any case prevention, by eliminating the pathogens that cause disease, is better than cure. Disinfection by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation has proved to be an effective, chemical-free treatment for both water supply and wastewater discharges, safeguarding brood stock, egg production and fry growth.

The process, which acts directly on cell DNA to prevent reproduction, is effective against a wide range of microbes including viruses, bacteria and protozoans and, unlike treatment chemicals, it is impossible for resistant strains to develop. This is particularly important in indoor recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) where the only water replacement is the water lost to evaporation and cleaning, so bacteria are retained in the system for long periods.

This means that resistant strains will multiply, with numbers doubling every twenty minutes, and build up in biofilms in pipework which are very difficult to remove. Ozone was widely used to control microbes in many older RAS farms, but it is expensive in both capital and operating costs. It is also hazardous and toxic so needs careful control both in the water and the atmosphere.

Read the full article, HERE.

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