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Title: An investigation of environmental impacts on sediments by marine cage fish farms using long term metadata analysis
Author: Mavraganis, Theodoros
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 7208
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2012
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Many studies have investigated the impacts of marine cage fish farming on seabed sediments. Most of these studies have focused on organic loading or toxic chemicals used for the treatment of disease, normally for a single or a small number of sites over short time periods. Only very rarely has there been the opportunity to use large data sets consisting of a large number of fish farm sites over a long time scale. In Scotland, localised nutrient impacts have been well documented for marine cage salmon farms, but mixed effects of nutrient and chemicals such as SLICE (the active ingredient of which is emamectin benzoate) have not been investigated in the long term. The aim of this project was to investigate the ecological impacts on sediments from farming activities using very large spatial and temporal data to investigate the long term effects of nutrient and chemical waste. This was achieved using a metadata set collected from 403 sampling stations at 31 fish farms on the west coast of Scotland over a 9 year period. Data consisted of sediment macrofauna, carbon and nitrogen levels, redox potential, particle size for sediment characterisation and sediment concentrations of SLICE. The data was analysed for trends using statistical and multivariate analysis to look for changes in sediment community and related conditions, and the relationships between these parameters were investigated. At sampling stations that were less than 50 metres from the sea cages, 72% of the macrofauna communities were correlated with regard to their species composition and abundance. A significant relationship between the concentration of SLICE and sediment characteristics was represented as: SLICE= 0.000644*(median size particle size) + 0.0311*(C %) – 0.00213*(redox potential) + 1.453. Annelids were the most sensitive to the presence of emamectin benzoate, with the sipunculid Phascolion strombi, the echinoderm Ophiura affinis, and the custaceans Iphinoe, Diastylis and Iphimedia also showing sensitivity. During the data period, there was a clear change in species composition associated with improved seabed conditions. This correlated with biomass changes at the relevant sites, where there was a consequent decrease in nutrient input and SLICE usage. The statistical comparison of the AMBI and ITI indices indicated a 68.9% correlation, but they differed in their ability to indicate levels of organic disturbance. AMBI was shown to correlate more closely with conditions and thus a more reliable index when working with large databases. Univariate and multivariate analysis indicated that a combination of abundance (N), Shannon Wiener (H’) and AMBI, as biological indices for describing the status of the ecological level associated with the carbon percentage and redox potential of sediments gave the most reliable representation of environmental change over a series of sampling stations. In conclusion, the overall results suggest that, in the long-term, sampling stations which contained significant levels of SLICE had a higher impact status than those affected only by nutrient inputs. The accuracy of multiple regression models were increased by adding biotic and abiotic parameters, though fish biomass at the sites were not considered be as important factor for the prediction of impacts. However, this model could be sensitive to natural environmental conditions and variations. In light of these results and conclusions, recommendations can be made both for updating the existed environmental regulation of marine fish farms and in the development of meaningful models to relate sediment conditions to accurate estimations of overall environmental impacts.
Supervisor: Telfer, Trevor Sponsor: IKY (State Scholarships Foundation)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aquaculture ; Emamectin Benzoate ; Diversity indices ; Environmental impacts ; Cage aquaculture Environmental aspects ; Marine sediments ; Marine fisheries Management