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Research Document - 2015/002

Modelling carrying capacity of bivalve aquaculture: a review of definitions and methods

By R. Filgueira, L.A. Comeau, and T. Guyondet


The need to develop sustainable activities in the coastal zone that are compatible with other uses is key for minimizing controversy among stakeholders and consequently for marine spatial planning. In aquaculture, carrying capacity (CC) has traditionally been regarded as a useful concept for maximizing stocking biomass and profitability at the farm scale. Over the past decades the concept itself and its level of complexity have substantially evolved, prompting the creation of different CC components: physical, production, ecological, social and governance. These components provide a holistic approach to the analysis of aquaculture and its interaction with the ecosystem, economy and society. With respect to ecological and production CC, a series of indices and complex mathematical models have been developed. Nevertheless, there is still no consensus regarding criteria and thresholds, a situation that often limits the application of these new tools to management. In this document, we review the current understanding of CC for bivalve aquaculture, with emphasis on the modelling techniques that are available for inferring ecological and production CC.

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