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Effects of Intensive Mariculture On Sediment Biochemistry
Pusceddu, A.; Fraschetti, S.; Mirto, S.; Holmer, M.; Danovaro, R. (2007). Effects of Intensive Mariculture On Sediment Biochemistry. Ecol. Appl. 17(5): 1366-1378
In: Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America: Tempe, AZ. ISSN 1051-0761, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 123661 [ MOA ]

Keywords
    Aquaculture; Aquaculture; Aquaculture; Mariculture; Posidonia oceanica (Linnaeus) Delile, 1813 [WoRMS]; Mediterranean Region [Marine Regions]

Authors  Top 
  • Pusceddu, A.
  • Fraschetti, S., more
  • Mirto, S., more
  • Holmer, M.
  • Danovaro, R., more

Abstract
    The exponential growth of off-shore mariculture that has occurred worldwide over the last 10 years has raised concern about the impact of the waste produced by this industry on the ecological integrity of the sea bottom. Investigations into this potential source of impact on the biochemistry of the sea floor have provided contrasting results, and no compelling explanations for these discrepancies have been provided to date. To quantify the impact of fish-farm activities on the biochemistry of sediments, we have investigated the quantity and biochemical composition of sediment organic matter in four different regions in the temperate-warm Mediterranean Sea: Akrotiri Bay (Cyprus), Sounion Bay (Greece), Pachino Bay (Italy), and the Gulf of Alicante (Spain). In these four study regions, the concentrations of phytopigments, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids in the sediments were measured, comparing locations receiving wastes from fish farms to control locations in twodifferent habitats: seagrass beds and soft nonvegetated substrates. Downward fluxes were also measured in all of the regions, up to 200 m from the fish farms, to assess the potential spatial extent of the impact. In all four regions, with the exception of seagrass sediments in Spain, the biochemistry of the sediments showed significant differences between the control and fish-farm locations. However, the variables explaining the differences observed varied among the regions and between habitats, suggesting idiosyncratic effects of fish-farm waste on the biochemistry of sediments. These are possibly related to differences in the local physicochemical variables that could explain a significant proportion of the differences seen between the control and fish-farm locations. Biodeposition derived from the fish farms decreased with increasing distance from the fish-farm cages, but with different patterns in the four regions. Our results indicate that quantitative and qualitative changes in the organic loads of the sediments that arise from intensive aquaculture are dependent upon the ecological context and are not predictable only on the basis of fish-farm attributes and hydrodynamic regimes. Therefore, the siting of fish farms should only be allowed after a case-by-case assessment of the ecological context of the region, especially in terms of the organic matter load and its biochemical composition.

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