Israeli-Developed Models of Marine Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA)

Amir Neori, Lior Guttman, Alvaro Israel, Muki Shpigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern Israeli integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) has emerged from the Israeli freshwater polyculture, with carps, tilapia and grey mullet that started in the 1940-1950s. The dynamics, processes, environment and management of semi-intensive (several tons ha-1 y-1) mariculture IMTA started in the early 1970s, at the National Center for Mariculture (NCM) in Eilat, with several models that combined flow-through and recirculation features between primary (fed) and secondary (extractive) species. The seawater fishponds differed from freshwater ponds mainly in the continuous exchange with water from the open sea, to stabilize salinity and other water quality features. The primary (fed) fish was mostly the seabream (Sparus aurata), seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), shrimp (Penaeus semisulcatus) and mullets (Mugil cephalus and Liza ramada). At first, the extractive component included microalgae, oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and clams (Ruditapes philippnmarum). In more progressive models, plastic-lined double drain ponds and tanks are used. Several other species, for example: clams, seaweed (the macroalgae Ulva spp. and Gracilaria spp.), abalone (Haliotis tuberculata and H. discus hannai), sea urchins (Paracentrotus lividus and Tripneustes gratilla elatensis), shrimp, brine shrimp (Artemia salina) are used. Wetlands planted with the halophytes Salicornia sp. and Sarcocrnia sp. have been integrated as IMTA. Recently, periphyton and drip-irrigated algal biofilters were examined and found to be practical. The research contributed to the enhancement of the sustainability, flexibility and potential for profitability of the aquaculture operation, based on the accumulated understanding about the functioning of the different units and the interactions between them. The principles developed in this research are relevant to brackishwater aquaculture, and have been applied for shrimp culture, mainly in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Coastal Research
Issue numbersp1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources supported this research and the authors over decades of R&D. Additional grants that supported this research were generously contributed by the following agencies: (1) European Union/Commission grants that span nearly continuously over 1989-2016, including INTAB contract 206421, GENESIS contract 2000-00102, ENVIROPHYTE contract 032167, ENRICH contract 222492, SPIINES contract 606042 and RESURCH contract 606042. (2) The United States - Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) between 1990 and -2020: IS-1634-89R, TB-8047-08, US-4599-13 R and IS-4995-17. (3) Texas-Israel contract TDA-TIE 845-4782. (4) MERC-USAID contract TA-MOU-06-M25-053. (5) The Israeli ministries of Industry and Commerce, Agriculture, and Science and Technology, numerous grants. (6) The Negev-Arava R&D Network. (7) GKSS Research Center Geesthacht GmbH, Joint German Israeli Research Program. Thanks to M. Michael for editorial corrections.

Funding Information:
*Corresponding author: ©Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2019

Publisher Copyright:
© Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2019.


  • Algae
  • Biofilter
  • Fish
  • Invertebrates
  • Mariculture
  • Nutrients
  • Polyculture
  • Shellfish
  • Sustainable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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