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Aquaculture: A Productive Seascape

Part 2 Project 2011
Adrian Doherty
University of Dundee | UK
This proposition considers our understanding of landscape, and explores the misconception that rural landscapes are natural, arguing that in an increasingly urbanised global society natural landscapes untouched by humans are incredibly rare. A cultural landscape is introduced as a more appropriate premise, a fusion of natural elements overlaid with cultural features, and maintains that as a record of our heritage, is worth preserving. This is tested by focusing on Gweedore, a densely populated rural community in the North West of Ireland. The study reveals Gweedore’s unique field pattern; the legacy of a medieval subdivision of land known as the Rundale system, a productive pattern common along the west coast that ensured access to the best land, water and common grazing for each of its members.

Population increases and the commercialisation of production marked the end of the communality associated with the Rundale system, but marked the beginning of domestic industries in Gweedore, where during the early nineteen hundreds a self-sustaining community evolved around peat harvesting, fishing and wool production. In recent years changing European agricultural policy has caused the collapse of productive agriculture and an explosion in demand for housing has fueled a culture of consumption removing any responsibility to cultivate or protect the surrounding landscape, farmers are less productive and the land has become a commodity generating disparate patterns of development, nowhere is this more pertinent than in Gweedore, where a band of one-off houses stretches along its coastline.

Recognising the rich resource Gweedore’s coastline offers, Aquaculture aims to re-establish a new productive landscape or seascape. An off-shore oyster, mussel and seaweed farm is envisaged with a processing and distribution facility planned for Bunbeg harbour. The facility includes; a pier extension, two shellfish depuration centres, a shellfish packaging warehouse, a seaweed drying tower, a water tower, a seaweed processing plant and packaging warehouse and loading bays. It is hoped a thriving seaweed industry can revitalise and reinvigorate the area, providing a sustainable industry that reconnects Gweedore to its coastline.

Adrian Doherty


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