Potential impacts of finfish aquaculture on eelgrass beds and possible monitoring metrics for management

Eelgrass has been designated an Ecologically Significant Species in Atlantic Canada, yet the development and rapid expansion of open netpen finfish aquaculture has raised concerns about potential impacts on eelgrass habitats. Based on field surveys at increasing distances from a finfish farm in Port Mouton Bay and reference sites in adjacent Port Joli Bay and along the Nova Scotia coast, this study found higher nutrient and organic enrichment, lower eelgrass cover and biomass, and lower macroinfauna biomass closer to the farm, as well as changing community structure with some opportunistic species increasing and some sensitive species decreasing closer to the farm. Out results can be used to inform metrics for assessment and monitoring.

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