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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Environmental consequence analyses of fish farm emissions related to different scales and exemplified by data from the Baltic - a review

Gyllenhammar A, Hakanson L


The aim of this work is to review studies to evaluate how emissions from fish cage farms cause eutrophication effects in marine environments. The focus is on four different scales: (i) the conditions at the site of the farm, (ii) the local scale related to the coastal area where the farm is situated, (iii) the regional scale encompassing many coastal areas and (iv) the international scale including several regional coastal areas. The aim is to evaluate the role of nutrient emissions from fish farms in a general way, but all selected examples come from the Baltic Sea. An important part of this evaluation concerns the method to define the boundaries of a given coastal area. If this is done arbitrarily, one would obtain arbitrary results in the environmental consequence analysis. In this work, the boundary lines between the coast and the sea are drawn using GIS methods (geographical information systems) according to the topographical bottleneck method, which opens a way to determine many fundamental characteristics in the context of mass balance calculations. In mass balance modelling, the fluxes from the fish farm should be compared to other fluxes to, within and from coastal areas. Results collected in this study show that: (1) at the smallest scale (< 1 ha), the "footprint" expressing the impact areas of fish cage farm often corresponds to the size of a "football field" (50-100 m) if the annual fish production is about 50 ton, (2) at the local scale (1 ha to 100 km(2)), there exists a simple load diagram (effect-load-sensitivity) to relate the environmental response and effects from a specific load from a fish cage farm. This makes it possible to obtain a first estimate of the maximum allowable fish production in a specific coastal area, (3) at the regional scale (100-10,000 km(2)), it is possible to create negative nutrient fluxes, i.e., use fish farming as a method to reduce the nutrient loading to the sea. The breaking point is to use more than about 1.1 g wet weight regionally caught wild fish per gram feed for the cultivated fish, and (4) at the international scale (> 10,000 km(2)) related to the Baltic Proper, the contribution from fish farms to the overall nutrient fluxes are very small. We have also given two case-studies at the local scale where the impact of the fish farm emissions are greatest and the idea is to identify coastal areas unsuitable and suitable for fish cage farms and the reasons why. It should also be stressed that the results presented here are exemplified using emissions from fish farms, but that the underlying principles to evaluate the ecosystem effects of nutrient discharges from point source emissions are valid in a wider and more general perspective. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Published in

Marine Environmental Research
2005, Volume: 60, number: 2, pages: 211-243

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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