Why not: use marine plants and animals, such as seaweed and shellfish, to remove nitrogen from Long Island Sound?


NEIWPCC has hired its first bioextraction coordinator to explore the potential for this technique to reduce nitrogen and the adverse effects of hypoxia in the Sound while producing cash crops.

These living things help prevent algae and plankton blooms, which can cause hypoxia, a state of low dissolved oxygen that is harmful to marine life.

Shellfish consume phytoplankton that have already taken up nitrogen in the form of particulate nutrients. Nitrogen from the phytoplankton is then incorporated into shellfish tissues and shell.

The nitrogen is removed from the local marine environment when the shellfish are harvested. Seaweed nutrient bioextraction can also supplement this process by removing nitrogen directly.

The effort complements other elements of the nitrogen reduction strategy for the Sound.

In her first year, NEIWPCC’s bioextraction coordinator, Nelle D’Aversa, will assess the potential of, and obstacles to, advancing shellfish and seaweed aquaculture.

For 2018, she plans to reach out to stakeholders in Connecticut and New York, review regulations governing aquaculture, and identify potential sites for bioextraction projects. A pilot project could come as soon as next year.

Nutrient bioextraction was the subject of a 2009 workshop convened by the Long Island Sound Study, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NEIWPCC, and the University of Connecticut.

iWR • April 2018