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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 15:145-159 (2023)  -  DOI:

Spatio-temporal analysis of sediment plumes formed by mussel fisheries and aquaculture in the western Wadden Sea

H. M. Jansen1,2,*, L. van den Bogaart1, A. Hommersom3, J. J. Capelle1

1Wageningen Marine Research, Korringaweg 7, 4401 NT Yerseke, The Netherlands
2Aquaculture and Fisheries Group, Wageningen University, De Elst 1, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
3Water Insight, Fahrenheitstraat 42, 6716 BR Ede, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Wadden Sea is a highly dynamic tidal system and an important area for a variety of species, including wild and cultivated mussels. Increased suspended sediment concentrations may negatively affect ecosystem functioning across trophic levels; hence, insight into the effects of anthropogenic activities is of importance. The aim of this study was to investigate the scale of sediment resuspension associated with commercial mussel cultivation activities. Turbidity prior to and during fisheries and harvest was investigated by in situ measurements with towed and fixed sensors. Four case studies were selected to represent maximum disturbance. For one case study, sediment resuspension was further investigated by analysis of satellite images. The in situ measurements showed that turbidity is enhanced by mussel fisheries and harvest but that effects are limited in time and space. Turbidity enhancement during fisheries was several-fold higher than that during harvest, whereas the spatial scale of both activities was limited to their direct vicinity. In contrast to the in situ study, the satellite image analysis identified a spatial magnitude that extended over a somewhat larger spatial scale, in the form of a dark water plume, and further revealed that this plume consisted of high concentrations of coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM), rather than suspended particles. Along with turbidity, CDOM thus seems an important consideration for determining light attenuation in a water body affected by anthropogenic seafloor disturbance. As we presented case studies that were expected to represent maximum impact, we conclude that there is no specific need for further in-depth studies that allow upscaling to ecosystem-wide effects.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture · Shellfish · Environmental impact · Turbidity · Coloured dissolved organic matter · CDOM · Satellite · In situ

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Cite this article as: Jansen HM, van den Bogaart L, Hommersom A, Capelle JJ (2023) Spatio-temporal analysis of sediment plumes formed by mussel fisheries and aquaculture in the western Wadden Sea. Aquacult Environ Interact 15:145-159.

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