Locating the facility next to the shore may serve as a good source of intake water as well as an easy solution for water discharge. Constant availability of seawater is suitable for marine species and is also optimal for purging processes if necessary. Another big advantage is the high availability and constant supply of water to the facility, whereas fresh water at the same volumes usually come at a very high price.
However, one must not be charmed by the straightforward advantages of the proximity to the sea, and must look deeper into the essence of such advantages. A major concern when dealing with animal farming is the risk of disease that evolves into a pandemic. In Aquaculture, the source of water, its pureness and suitability for the farmed species is a prerequisite for a successful farming operation. Sadly, nowadays, seawater in various geographical areas is often not suitable, AS-IS, for a RAS fish farming operation since in most cases it is contaminated with bacteria, heavy metals, plastics, chemicals or other pollutants. To use seawater as a water source in a RAS facility, the water must go through a costly purification process. At the other end of the production spectrum, to discharge these high salinity process water back to the sea, additional treatment must be taken (assuming such discharge is allowed by the local authorities). In addition, sea air is full of spray, which might also be a source of disease contamination in RAS facilities. To filter the spray and prevent it from entering the facility, sophisticated ventilation systems must be installed. Thus, additional capital investments, and related operating costs are added to the equation.
Further, the location of a mass production facility next to a major consumer market is essential for a streamlined supply chain and an economic success of the facility; however, major consumer markets are not always located along the shore and the distance between the facility and the consumer market might eliminate the advantages related to the usage of seawater in the farming process.
Another disadvantage is temperature control – big differences between day/night and seasonal, leading to higher costs of heating and cooling the water.
To summarize, the proximity of a RAS facility to the shore may be an asset as well as a burden and in order to decide on the best location of the facility, many considerations must be taken into account via a comprehensive feasibility study report tailored to the specific cultivated species, main characteristics of the project and the land in question.
To read more about Onshore Vs. Inland, click here.