AEI 8:463-480 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00192

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Discrete water quality sampling at open-water aquaculture sites: limitations and strategies

H. M. Jansen1,2,*, G. K. Reid3,4, R. J. Bannister1, V. Husa1, S. M. C. Robinson4, J. A. Cooper4, C. Quinton5, Ø. Strand1

1Institute of Marine Research, Nordnesgaten 50, 5817 Bergen, Norway
2Wageningen Marine Research, Korringaweg 7, 4401 NT, Yerseke, The Netherlands
3Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network, University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, E2L 4L5, Canada
4St. Andrews Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, E5B 2L9, Canada
5Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: While environmental performance of cage-based aquaculture is most often monitored through benthic conditions, there may also be requirements that necessitate discrete, pelagic sampling. In the pelagic realm, adequately capturing the spatial and temporal dynamics of interest and attributing causality to aquaculture processes can be extremely challenging. Conditions are seldom ideal, and data adequacy concerns of discrete samples collected at open-water aquaculture sites are not uncommon. Further exploration of these challenges is needed. Herein, we aim to explore considerations for study design, analysis, and data interpretation of discrete pelagic sampling. As examples, we present 2 case studies where limited sampling occurred under conditions of complex pelagic dynamics. A Norwegian case study quantified particle abundance around salmon farms, and aimed to highlight the effects of spatial-temporal variation on sampling design, the need for inclusion of companion parameters, and the benefits of a priori and a posteriori data interpretation strategies. A Canadian case study collected discrete samples to measure ammonium concentrations with continuous current measurements at an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) farm, to explore issues of complex hydrodynamics, reference site suitability, sampling resolution, data pooling, and post hoc power tests. We further discuss lessons learned and the implications of study design, ambient conditions, physical processes, farm management, statistical analysis, companion parameters, and the potential for confounding effects. Pragmatic consideration of these aspects will ultimately serve to better frame the costs and benefits of discrete pelagic sampling at open-water aquaculture sites.


KEY WORDS: Sampling design · Pelagic · IMTA · Nutrients · Cage aquaculture · Farm-scale


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Cite this article as: Jansen HM, Reid GK, Bannister RJ, Husa V and others (2016) Discrete water quality sampling at open-water aquaculture sites: limitations and strategies. Aquacult Environ Interact 8:463-480. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00192

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