Validation of BIOGEARS prototypes at sea

Published 13/12/2021

In order to show that the BIOGEARS prototype ropes are fit purpose and meet the industry needs, field demonstration tests for validation at sea (TRL 5-7) have started and are ongoing (as part of WP4 led by AZTI). The sea tests are taking place in three experimental sites, under different energy conditions.


These are:

  • Exposed-high energy area: AZTI’s experimental offshore area, ropes have been deployed in a longline based at 50 m depth.
  • Sheltered-low energy area: AZTI´s experimental site in Mutriku, ropes have been suspended from a raft at 15 m depth.
  • PIE Marine Station of Plentzia (University of the Basque Country): seeding of seaweed and IMTA proof of concept lab trials.

The sea trials commenced in early July 2021 with the BIOGEARS rope prototypes  (two prototype versions: B1 and B2) and  a commercial rope counterpart (G, GROPE) was also deployed with the help of the staff of the local mussel producer Matxitxako Moluskoak (MM)., 72 ropes were machine seeded and deployed in the experimental raft of AZTI.

After a conditioning period of two months, the first sampling was conducted in September 2021 where mussel samples were collected for to measure growth, Condition Index, biochemical composition, microbiome composition and microplastic presence assessment. Then in October 2021, 36 ropes seeded with mussel (12 ropes per experimental group, B1, B2 and G) were transported to an offshore experimental longline of AZTI in Mendexa. The second samplings of mussel cultured in sheltered (raft) has taken place and more sampling will continue in December and into 2022. In the experimental sites, water hydrodynamics, physicochemical parameters and dissolved nutrients are also being monitored.

As well as validating the ropes for mussel culture, the suitability for the BIOGEARS prototype for seaweed culture also commenced during the summer of 2021. To initiate this, the BIOGEARS coordinator travelled to CTAQUA (Cádiz, Spain) to start the collaboration between ACCESS2SEA and BIOGEARS in the cultivation of the seaweed Codium spp. A lab protocol was set up for the seeding of rope prototypes helped by CTAQUA staff. The culture facilities of CTAQUA in nearby esteros were also visited, where the IMTA parallel trials will be held with Codium spp. and oyster (Crassostrea gigas). The coordinator has held various meetings with PIE (The Marine Station of Plentzia) where finally the seeding experiences of Codium sp. are going to be conducted. Currently the culture facilities are being conditioned for seaweed culturing, which will start in Dec 2021-Jan 2022. Parallelly, in CTAQUA the seeding has been done and Codium is successfully growing in BIOGEARS rope prototypes.

The validation of the ropes during seas trials will continue until July 2022 and we will share more results then!

Last edited 13/12/2021

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