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Understanding the biogeochemical impacts of fish farms using a benthic-pelagic model

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Evgeniy V Yakushev, Philip Wallhead, Paul Eric Renaud, Alisa Ilinskaya, Elizaveta Protsenko, Shamil Yakubov, Svetlana Pakhomova, Andrew K Sweetman, Kathy Dunlop, Anfisa Berezina, Richard GJ Bellerby, Trine Dale


Sustainable development of the salmon farming industry requires knowledge of the biogeochemical impacts of fish farm emissions. To investigate the spatial and temporal scales of farm impacts on the water column and benthic biogeochemistry, we coupled the C-N-P-Si-O-S-Mn-Fe transformation model BROM with a 2-dimensional benthic-pelagic transport model (2DBP), considering vertical and horizontal transport in the water and upper 5 cm of sediments along a 10 km transect centered on a fish farm. The 2DBP model was forced by hydrophysical model data for the Hardangerfjord in western Norway. Model simulations showed reasonable agreement with field data from the Hardangerfjord in August 2016 (correlations between the model and observations were significant for most variables, and model biases were mostly <35%). The model predicted significant impacts on seafloor biogeochemistry up to 1 km from the fish farm (e.g., increased organic matter in sediments, oxygen depletion in bottom water and sediments, denitrification, metal and sulfur reduction), as well as detectable decreases in oxygen and increases in ammonium, phosphate and organic matter in the surface water near to the fish farm.