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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 11:53-62 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00293

Soundscapes in aquaculture systems

Craig Radford1, Matthew Slater2,*

1Auckland University, Leigh Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine Science, Auckland University, PO Box 349 Warkworth 0941, New Zealand
2Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Sound in aquaculture production systems remains poorly understood in terms of both biological effects and engineering possibilities. Open systems such as net pens and traditional ponds are increasingly being complemented by recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Each of these systems create soundscapes, which may have a significant effect on the high-value commercial species being farmed. The current study compared recordings of soundscapes from commercial net pens, earthen ponds, and concrete and high-density polyethylene RAS holding systems. Calibrated measurements of each acoustic habitat revealed the range and intensity of sound in each system type. Spectra of each type of holding system were overlaid with the hearing ranges and sensitivity levels of 4 commonly aquacultured fish, common carp Cyprinus carpio, European perch Perca fluviatilis, red sea bream Pagrus major and Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, and 1 crustacean, common prawn Palaemon serratus. The majority of ambient noise recorded in RAS systems and net pens fell within the 100 to 500 Hz range at or near fish hearing thresholds. While RAS systems are a markedly louder environment for species otherwise held in earthen ponds, the net pen environment clearly represents the most variable and loudest aquaculture holding system, reaching noise levels capable of eliciting a measurable physiological response in many species and revealing a likely source of chronic stress. The long-term stress response of culture animals and performance cost of inappropriate soundscapes remains undetermined. A precautionary approach and optimised system engineering is recommended to reduce the sound impact on culture animals to optimise growth performance.


KEY WORDS: Hearing thresholds · Noise · Stressor · Recirculating aquaculture systems · RAS · Net pen · Pond


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Cite this article as: Radford C, Slater M (2019) Soundscapes in aquaculture systems. Aquacult Environ Interact 11:53-62. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00293

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