AEI 2:239-252 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00042

Spatial and temporal extension of wild fish aggregations at Sparus aurata and Thunnus thynnus farms in the north-western Mediterranean

Kathrin Bacher1,*, Ana Gordoa1, Oscar Sagué

1Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), 17300 Blanes, Spain
2Federació Catalana d’Activitats Subaquàtiques, 08930 Sant Adrià del Besòs, Spain

ABSTRACT: Fish farms cause wild fish to aggregate nearby and thus act to modify their distribution, but the spatial and temporal extent of the attraction effect around farms is still poorly understood. We examined attraction using an integrated approach combining 3 factors: spatial extent, depth and season. We analysed an Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus (ABT) and a gilthead seabream Sparus aurata (SB) farm off the north-eastern coast of Spain which represent different fish farming models in the Mediterranean. Underwater visual counts were conducted from summer 2010 to spring 2011. We recorded 39 species at the SB farm and 17 species at the ABT farm. The analysis of fish abundance and biomass at 3 stations located along a distance gradient from the farm (SB: 0, 30, 200 m; ABT: 0, 100, 200 m) showed significantly higher values next to the cages than at more distant stations, revealing that the spatial extent of the attraction effect was mainly restricted to the cage rather than following a gradient. The intensity of the cage effect varied according to farm, season and depth, reflecting species-specific behaviours. At the SB farm, the cage effect persisted year round, varying with depth, whereas at the ABT farm, the effect was only detected in summer and spring. These distinct spatial and temporal aggregation patterns suggest that implementation of fishery regulatory measures to protect wild fish should be farm-specific. This study emphasizes the importance of using an integrated approach to study wild fish aggregations at farms.


KEY WORDS: Sea-cage . Aquaculture . Wild fish . Attraction effect . Sparus aurata . Thunnus thynnus . Mediterranean


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Cite this article as: Bacher K, Gordoa A, Sagué O (2012) Spatial and temporal extension of wild fish aggregations at Sparus aurata and Thunnus thynnus farms in the north-western Mediterranean. Aquacult Environ Interact 2:239-252. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00042

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