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World consumption of seafood continues to rise, but the seas and oceans are already overexploited. Land-based (saline) aquaculture may offer a sustainable way to meet the growing demand for fish and shellfish. A major problem of aquaculture is nutrient waste, as most of the nutrients added through feed are released into the environment in dissolved form. Wetlands are nature's water purifiers. Constructed wetlands are commonly used to treat contaminated freshwater effluent. Experience with saline systems is more limited. This paper explores the potential of constructed saline wetlands for treating the nutrient-rich discharge from land-based saline aquaculture systems. The primary function of constructed wetlands is water purification, but other ancillary benefits can also be incorporated into treatment wetland designs. Marsh vegetation enhances landscape beauty and plant diversity, and wetlands may offer habitat for fauna and recreational areas. Various approaches can be taken in utilizing plants (halophytes, macro-algae, micro-algae) in the treatment of saline aquaculture effluent. Their strengths and weaknesses are reviewed here, and a conceptual framework is presented that takes into account economic and ecological benefits as well as spatial constraints. Use of the framework is demonstrated for assessing various saline aquaculture systems in the southwestern delta region of the Netherlands.
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Keywords: effluent polishing; mariculture; phytoremediation; salt marsh; treatment wetland

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, NL-6700 AAWageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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