Evaluation of the FVCOM modeling system to map the far-field dispersal of aquaculture waste



Particulate aquaculture wastes, such as fish feces and feed pellets can accumulate beneath and near farm operations. Near-field waste accumulation is relatively well understood and can be predicted using depositional modelling tools such as DEPOMOD. In contrast, the far-field distribution and potential environmental effects of particulate waste and material that is re-suspended from beneath aquaculture cages is more complex and difficult to predict. With increasing concerns over the potential far-field effects of aquaculture, including cumulative effects and ecosystem interactions, it is necessary to be able to predict the quantity and range of this dispersal. The goal of this study is to develop a coupled hydrodynamic-sediment transport model capable of mapping the far-field dispersal of aquaculture wastes from a single farm site in southwest New Brunswick using the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM).

The hydrodynamic component of the FVCOM model has been used and validated for ocean currents in southwest New Brunswick. Additionally, the particle tracking component of this model, for use with passive particles, has been successfully employed to infer the movement of and the dispersal of dye which is analogous to therapeutant transport. The fully coupled hydrodynamic-sediment transport model will add active particle transport by defining variables such as settling velocity, critical erosion shear stress, and erosion rate, which are necessary to predict the deposition and transport of aquaculture waste. To develop the model, parameters obtained from previous and current research on the transport dynamics of aquaculture waste will be used. The model will be validated using site specific data collected from a salmon aquaculture site in southwest New Brunswick.

The success of this proof of concept modelling project will help facilitate improved predictions regarding the transport of wastes generated from aquaculture operations and consequently the potential environmental interactions associated with aquaculture operations in the far-field. This will provide managers and regulators with the information needed to assist in decision making regarding the monitoring and/or mitigation of far-field wastes associated with aquaculture operations and for new siting criteria.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)


2012 - 2014


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Brent Law
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO)
1 Challenger Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2Y 4A2
Tel.: (902) 426-8548
Fax: (902) 246-6695
Email: Brent.Law@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Yongsheng Wu
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BIO
1 Challenger Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2Y 4A2
Tel.: (902) 407-8062
Fax: (902) 426-6927
Email: Yongshen.Wu@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Terri Sutherland
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research (CAER)
4160 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, B.C., Canada V7V 1N6
Tel.: (604) 666-8537
Fax: (604) 666-3497
Email: Terri.Sutherland@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Team Member(s)

David Greenberg, DFO-Maritimes region (BIO)

Jason Chaffey, DFO-Maritimes region (BIO)

Adam Drozdowski, DFO-Maritimes region (BIO)

Collaborating Government Department(s)

Fred Page, DFO-Gulf region (St. Andrews Biological Station - SABS)

Susan Haigh, DFO-Gulf region (SABS)

Randy Losier, DFO-Gulf region (SABS)