They are working to take advantage of the ability of both plants to thrive in polluted water and to purify it.
However, the project at UCC’s Environmental Research Institute will also seek to find ways of commercialising the fact that these plants also make high- protein foods for fish.
It is an example of ‘circular economy’ in action that has been recognised by the awarding of €230,000 to the Aquasus project, led by Prof Marcel Jansen of UCC’s school of biological, earth and environmental sciences.
“We will explore how combinations of algae and duckweed can improve water quality, enhance fish production, and yield high quality feed, thus demonstrating the benefits of a financially viable circular economy approach,” he said.
The fish-farm industry is worth more than €200m a year and generates over 1,900 jobs, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). The board is administering the project funding from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The aim of the UCC project is to directly contribute to the industry’s sustainability and its economic viability.
“The Aquasus project is one of a number of innovative studies BIM is supporting industry and third-level partners with to further develop Ireland’s valuable aquaculture sector,” said BIM aquaculture technical specialist Damien Toner.
Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Michael Creed said increasing levels of capital investment in the sector will underpin the country’s ambitions to significantly develop our production in the coming years.
“I’m delighted also to see recent efforts by my department and BIM to encourage our third-level institutions to become involved in the research agenda for the sector coming to fruition,” he said.
UCC is one of three higher-education institutions to get approval for research to assist the aquaculture sector with developing new tech knowledge.Two industry-led research projects are also being funded.