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Exploration of a visual based approach to benthic environmental monitoring of finfish cage culture in southern Newfoundland



Environmental regulation of the aquaculture industry in Canada and Newfoundland follows a Pathways of Effect philosophy that consists of Release, Exposure, and Consequence and Acceptability components. One of the pathways for marine finfish cage farms involves the release of organic particulates (largely fish feed and fish feces) from the farm. These particulates are transported, dispersed and potentially degraded as they sink toward the bottom. Much of the marine finfish aquaculture industry in Newfoundland occurs in a hard bottom regime rather than a soft bottom regime and the sediment sulphide approach to benthic environmental monitoring does not work well. Currently, there is a gap in the ability to assess benthic impacts resulting from aquaculture operations on hard bottom substrates. In this project we plan to validate the use of visual sampling technologies as a way of estimating the spatial area of change in the benthic habitat and its bio-diversity community in Newfoundland. Information obtained will be valuable for Habitat Management to decide on the utility of visual methodologies and/or ecosystem indicators as a mean to monitor benthic habitat conditions for HADD determination purposes.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2009 - 2011


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Gehan Mabrouk

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