Localized effects of offshore aquaculture on water quality in a tropical sea

by Dunne Aislinn, carvalho, Susana, X. A. G. Moran, M. Ll. Calleja, Jones, B. H.
Year: 2021 DOI: doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112732


Aquaculture production has increased steadily in many tropical countries over the past few decades, although impact assessments have been frequently neglected. We investigated the impacts of an offshore barramundi fish farm on water quality in the southern-central Red Sea, a traditionally understudied tropical, oligotrophic, and semi-enclosed basin. Inorganic nutrients, particulate matter, chlorophyll-a, and heterotrophic bacteria were measured periodically over 8 months around the farm. Water down-current from the farm had, on average, more heterotrophic bacteria and chlorophyll-a than up-current (11% and 34% higher, respectively). Ratios of dissolved inorganic nitrogen:phosphorus down-current from the farm were lower than ratios up-current (mean 9.8 vs 16.0, respectively). Phosphate, inorganic nitrogen, and particulate matter showed patterns of enrichment associated with the farm after a fish feeding event. Strategies such as feed optimization and considering hydrodynamics in site selection may improve water quality for future fish farms in Saudi Arabia and other tropical countries.