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AEI 13:399-412 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00415

Impact of salmon farming on Atlantic cod spatio-temporal reproductive dynamics

J. E. Skjæraasen1,*, Ø. Karlsen1, Ø. Langangen2, T. van der Meeren3, N. B. Keeley4, M. S. Myksvoll1, G. Dahle1, E. Moland5, R. Nilsen4, K. M. Elvik Schrøder4, R. J. Bannister1, E. M. Olsen5,6

1Institute of Marine Research, PO Box 1870, Nordnes, 5817 Bergen, Norway
2Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
3Institute of Marine Research, Austevoll Research Station, Sauganeset 16, 5392 Storebø, Norway
4Institute of Marine Research, Fram Centre, PO Box 6606, Langnes, 9296 Tromsø, Norway
5Institute of Marine Research, Flødevigen, 4817 His, Norway
6Centre for Coastal Research (CCR), Department of Natural Sciences, University of Agder, PO Box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Salmon farming in marine net pens is a major activity in many temperate regions. This industry may affect coastal ecosystems in several ways, such as with waste pollution and parasite spillover. Less is known about the extent to which salmon farming disrupts the use of inshore spawning grounds by wild fish, such as the Atlantic cod Gadus morhua. Acoustic telemetry was therefore used to explore cod space use during the spawning season in a coastal region in mid-Norway with multiple salmon farms. Acoustic receivers were placed in clusters at 5 known cod spawning grounds and 6 nearby salmon farms. Data from 481 adult cod caught at the spawning grounds during 2017-2019 and equipped with acoustic telemetry transmitters were analysed. Overall, fewer fish were detected at farms than spawning grounds, even when accounting for distance from release point. Individual cod residency (days detected / duration of spawning period) was generally higher at the spawning grounds close to farms but low at the farms themselves, with little apparent spawning at the farm localities. In contrast, spawning was clearly occurring at the nearby spawning grounds, with cod spending weeks (n = 316) or months (n = 158) there during the spawning period. Males had longer residence times at spawning grounds than females, likely linked to the cod mating system. Overall, we found little support for the assertion that salmon farms disrupt inshore spawning dynamics of cod using nearby spawning grounds presently, either by attracting spawners to farms or causing fish to leave these grounds.


KEY WORDS: Environmental impacts · Gadus morhua · Finfish · Acoustic telemetry


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Cite this article as: Skjæraasen JE, Karlsen Ø, Langangen Ø, van der Meeren T and others (2021) Impact of salmon farming on Atlantic cod spatio-temporal reproductive dynamics. Aquacult Environ Interact 13:399-412. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00415

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