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Motivation

The main objective is offering one early warning system to predict harmful algae blooms (HABs) and so attenuate large financial losses that are affecting to marine aquaculture sector competitiveness in recent years.

In recent decades there has been a geographic expansion of HAB episodes (Hallegraeff, 2010). In Spain (1st EU aquaculture producer), the phenomenon is particular concern, especially in Galicia, where it is known as "purgas de mar" and has great socio-economic effects.

The number of variables involved in one of these episodes, is very high: wind, clouds, physical water variables (temperature, pH, salinity, oxygen, etc.), optical water properties (turbidity, suspended matter and dissolved organic matter), other phytoplankton species (chlorophyll measurements, primary production), along with chemical and biological parameters of the species itself which can alter levels of development, mobility, toxicity, etc..

The current analytical and control methods based on periodic sampling (mouse bioassay, new REGULATION (EU) 15/2011 and routine monitoring programs) let enforce existing legislation and ensure consumer protection. However, it is especially useful and necessary complement these methods with systems that allow continuous monitoring of multiple advanced variables. In this way, the producer can anticipate with measures such as early harvest, detoxification and debugging.

PURGADEMAR consortium raises the use of advanced last generation technologies to address this issue: remote sensing (high resolution satellite and multispectral in-situ), wireless sensor networks, Web-GIS systems and Artificial Intelligence techniques. Project scope will include the validation in two real scenarios: Atlantic Ocean (Galicia) and Mediterranean Sea (Delta del Ebro).