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Research Document - 2006/037

Cumulative and Far-Field Fish Habitat Effects

By Anderson, M.R., P.J. Cranford, C.W. McKindsey, P. Strain, B.T. Hargrave, W.K.W. Li, and W.G. Harrison


Shellfish aquaculture operations have the potential to substantially modify their surrounding environment. They represent a net addition of habitat to coastal systems and may directly and indirectly influence system productivity, nutrient dynamics and ecological rate processes. As a result ecosystem scale effects of shellfish aquaculture are complex and comprehensive studies are limited. In this paper we will discuss the characteristics of coastal ecosystems that are important determinants of the potential for far field or ecosystem scale consequences of shellfish aquaculture. We advance a scaling approach as a useful tool to frame questions about such consequences and briefly discuss existing options for predicting ecosystem scale effects. We end with a review of the cumulative effects of terrestrial agriculture and shellfish aquaculture using Prince Edward Island estuaries as a relevant Canadian example.

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