Aquaculture Site Search & Site Analysis

Aquaculture Site Search

Good site selection is a key first step to realizing a successful aquaculture project. Without a proper site, an aquaculture project may be set-up to fail from the very beginning. It is therefore vital that a suitable site be identified during the very early stages of any fish or shrimp farming project.  

When considering any new aquaculture project, one of our first actions is to visit the country of the proposed project. After conducting meetings with the client, our aquaculture site search expert will then begin the exploratory process and seek to identify high potential fish or shrimp farming sites, giving priority to sites owned by the client whenever appropriate to the situation.  

While there is really no such thing as a perfect aquaculture site, there are many sites that are simply not suitable for aquaculture project development. One of our top priorities is to make sure the site selected for a project is a good one and that it has been selected for all the right reasons. The simple fact that a client has a piece of land that it wants to put to productive use does not make it suitable. It must have quantifiable physical attributes that make it a good site for aquaculture.

Resources that may be utilized during the aquaculture site search phase of a project include topographic maps, satellite imagery, government resources, aerial flyovers, and on-site observations and analysis. Specific regions of the country will be targeted in advance according to the preferences of the client and the results of our initial investigations.  

Water quality, year-round water supply, soil quality, and local topography are probably the four most important characteristics of a good site. Of course, many other factors play into the decision of where to site a farm but we consider these four as the most important physical characteristics of any potential site. Water is obviously important because it is the growing medium for the cultured shrimp or fish. No aquaculture venture can expect to succeed without a plentiful supply of good quality clean water. Complete chemical testing of the water is required since cultured aquatic organisms have some very specific requirements. Soil quality is important because it impacts the design and aquaculture engineering of the farm.  At least 20% clay content is required for earthen pond construction, which is important for good water retention. Elevation and slope of the land is also very critical. Poor drainage or high risk flood zones are to be avoided, while land with moderate elevations and no more than a gentle slope are preferred.

Aquaculture Site Analysis

All high potential sites for aquaculture development that have been confirmed or discovered during the site search phase of our investigation will be subjected to our professional aquaculture site analysis process. At a minimum, at least two high potential sites will be subjected to in-depth analysis during the site analysis phase of the aquaculture feasibility study.  

Some of the key components of our standardized aquaculture site analysis are as follows:

Land analysis includes our professional opinion of each physical site, a topographic appraisal, determination of approximate elevations, and an analysis of drainage characteristics and flood risks that exist at each site.

Relief is defined as the difference between the elevation at a given location on site and the elevation at sea level. Given the omnipresent risk of cyclones in many parts of the world, we view relief as one of the most critical site variables for coastal aquaculture projects. According to UNESCO, any coastal site that has an elevation of less than 10 feet above mean sea level is considered to have high vulnerability to storm surge from cyclones. Sites with an elevation of 10-16 feet above mean sea level are said to have medium vulnerability, while those above 16 feet have low vulnerability. Our goal for coastal aquaculture projects is to ideally seek sites that have low vulnerability or alternatively select sites with at least 10 feet of natural elevation above mean sea level and build up the site to a final elevation of around 16 feet whenever feasible.

Land surface configuration is geometrical and includes both slope and surface shape. The gradient limits for a "nearly level" slope classification are between 0-3%. Land conforming to the "nearly level" slope classification is considered ideal for earthen pond construction. In other words, land that has a 1-3 foot change in elevation for every 100 feet is ideal in this regard for aquaculture development.

Erosion is the detachment and movement of soil material. Erosion can be a natural process, but it can also be accelerated through improper land development. Depending on the local landscape and weather conditions, erosion may be very slow or very rapid. We evaluate erosion risk for any given site based on landscape features, meteorological data, soil classification, natural erosion history, and the type of aquaculture system design under consideration. We have found that soil profiles, buried soils, deposits of wind-blown material, and other evidence that material has been moved and re-deposited are all helpful in understanding the natural erosion history for a given site.

I had the privilege of working with Tom in 2011 and found him to be both intelligent and hard working. He has a clear head for details and manages a diverse group of (often difficult) people with tact and consideration.  In his business dealings, I found Tom to be fair and I would not hesitate to recommend Tom wholeheartedly.
David Griffith - Former Aquaculture Operations Expert for AquaSol