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Influence of suspended and off-bottom mussel culture on the sea bottom and benthic habitats: a review

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Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of the food industry, raising concerns about the influence of this activity on the environment. We take a holistic approach to review off-bottom and suspended mussel culture effects on the benthic environment and benthic communities. Both longline and “bouchot” mussel culture add much physical structure (infrastructure and mussels) to the environment, altering hydrosedimentary processes by modifying currents and increasing sedimentation locally, and providing habitat for many benthic organisms. Biodeposition from mussels and these organisms increases benthic organic loading and linked biogeochemical processes to influence O2, pH, redox potentials, dissolved sulphides, and other sediment parameters, benthic respiration and nutrient fluxes, and benthic infaunal communities. Mussel culture may also influence seagrasses and algae, although this has not been well-studied. Far-field effects on the benthos may occur through a number of mechanisms, including aggregation of epibenthic macrofauna in culture sites, alteration of plankton communities, and the enhancement of exotic and indigenous pest species owing to the addition of physical structure to the environment. Quantitative relationships between farming level and benthic influences are lacking, making predictions of effects difficult.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Ocean and Environmental Sciences Division, Maurice-Lamontagne Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, P.O. Box 1000, Mont Joli, QC G5H 3Z4, Canada. 2: Laboratoire d’écologie benthique, Institut des sciences de la mer, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 310, Allée des Ursulines, C.P. 3300, Rimouski, QC G5L 2Y9, Canada. 3: Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), Centre Méditerranée, Département des Ressources Biologiques et Environnement, Laboratoire Aquaculture Languedoc Roussillon, UMR 5119 ECOSYM, chemin de Maguelone, 34250 Palavas-les-Flots, France. 4: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Département Milieux et Peuplements Aquatiques, CRESCO, UMR 7208 BOREA CNRS/P6/MNHN/IRD, 38 rue du Port Blanc, 35800 Dinard, France.

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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