Research Document - 2015/005
The ability of hydrodynamic models to inform decisions on the siting and management of aquaculture facilities in British Columbia
By M.G.G Foreman, P.C. Chandler, D.J. Stucchi, K.A. Garver, M. Guo, J. Morrison, D. Tuele
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for regulating and managing the aquaculture industry in British Columbia, including the licensing of aquaculture sites and the specification of conditions of licence. To inform regulatory and management decisions, research has been undertaken to better understand the interactions between aquaculture operations and the natural environment by modelling the fate of both passive and biological particles. Two models have been developed for this purpose:
- an ocean circulation model that hindcasts three-dimensional currents, salinities, temperatures and two-dimensional surface elevations, and
- a particle tracking model that uses the outputs of the ocean circulation model to simulate the dispersal behaviour of particles released at specific times and locations.
This paper reviews hydrodynamic models currently being used to model ocean circulation in support of aquaculture management, with a focus on the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) and its application to the Broughton Archipelago and Discovery Island regions in British Columbia. Progress in the use of FVCOM to represent the hydrodynamic regime of the two regions includes advances in specifying boundary and forcing conditions; associated challenges are also discussed. The particle tracking models, which use the output of FVCOM, are evaluated by simulating the movement of both passive particles, as well as particles imparted with behaviour and mortality characteristics of sea lice and the Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis Virus, IHNv.
The caveats and limitations of the application of these models to define aquaculture siting criteria and management zones are discussed. Recommendations for further development work are presented.
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