Aquaculture Integrated Model (AIM)

The Aquaculture Integrated Model (AIM, Tsagaraki et al., 2011), developed at Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), is based on a complex generic biogeochemical model, coupled to a 3-D hydrodynamic model and has been applied to study the effect from aquaculture waste in different areas of the Mediterranean Sea (Tsagaraki et al., 2011; Petihakis et al., 2012). A series of nested models is used to consistently downscale the hydrodynamics and biogeochemistry from the coarser resolution (~few kilometres) model of the wider area to the high resolution model (~few tens of meters) of the fish farm area. The amount of nutrients entering the environment from the fish cages is calculated using a mass balance approach. The model produces maps of near surface currents, Chl-a, dissolved inorganic nutrients (phosphate, nitrate, ammonium, silicate), plankton biomass and production that can be used to calculate different indicators describing the environmental status in the area, proving a tool for the sustainable management of the AAZ. This tool will offer significant assistance and know-how in decision making, giving the ability to objectively look at a series of parameters, make predictions about environmental impacts, designing reliable monitoring protocols and analyse scenarios in order to further good practices in management and development.

Developed by Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR). Model outputs can be accessed through the LifeWatch Portal under Ecological Modelling.


Suggested users: Aquaculture producers, regulators, certifiers, spatial planners, researchers.

Format: Multiple modelling approaches, computer code, large computer model run on supercomputers

Cost: Not available for purchase but is available as a service (contact George Triantafyllou,, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research)

Data requirements: Bathymetry data and initial fields for temperature, salinity and dissolved inorganic nutrients are required for the initial model setup. These are usually found from available sources (databases, model outputs etc) and customize for the specific application. Fish feed data from the existing farms are also obtained to compute the fishfarm wastes.

Additional insitu (currents, inorganic nutrients, Chl-a) and remote sensing (SST, Chl-a) data are also used for model validation.

Time requirements: Months for initial model setup, customization, testing and validation, and days for model application

Required resources: Fortran programming language to compile the code and computer server to run the model.

Prior knowledge: Some technical (computer) and scientific expertise is needed in order to apply the tool (run model simulations) and interpret the model outputs.



Scientific papers and relevant literature

Petihakis, G., Tsiaras, K., Traintafyllou, G., Korres, Tsagaraki, T.M., Tsapakis, M., Vavillis, P., Pollani, A. and Frangoulis, C. 2012. Application of a complex ecosystem model to evaluate effects of finfish culture in Pagasitikos Gulf, Greece. Journal of Marine Systems, 94, S65-S77.

Tsagaraki, T.M., Petihakis, G., Tsiaras, K., Triantafyllou, G., Tsapakis, M., Korres, G., Kakagiannis, G., Frangoulis, C. and Karakassis. 2011. Beyond the cage: ecosystem modelling for impact evaluation in aquaculture. Ecological Modelling, 222(14): 2512-2523.