Discrete water quality sampling at open-water aquaculture sites: limitations and strategies

H.M. Jansen, G.K. Reid, R.J. Bannister, V. Husa, S.M.C. Robinson, J.A. Cooper, C. Quinton, Ø. Strand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


While environmental performance of cage-based aquaculture is most often monitored through benthic conditions, there may also be requirements that necessitate discrete, pelagic sampling. In the pelagic realm, adequately capturing the spatial and temporal dynamics of interest and attributing causality to aquaculture processes can be extremely challenging. Conditions are seldom ideal, and data adequacy concerns of discrete samples collected at open-water
aquaculture sites are not uncommon. Further exploration of these challenges is needed. Herein, we aim to explore considerations for study design, analysis, and data interpretation of discrete pelagic sampling. As examples, we present 2 case studies where limited sampling occurred under conditions of complex pelagic dynamics. A Norwegian case study quantified particle abundance
around salmon farms, and aimed to highlight the effects of spatial−temporal variation on sampling design, the need for inclusion of companion parameters, and the benefits of a priori and a posteriori data interpretation strategies. A Canadian case study collected discrete samples to measure ammonium concentrations with continuous current measurements at an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) farm, to explore issues of complex hydrodynamics, reference site suitability, sampling resolution, data pooling, and post hoc power tests. We further discuss lessons learned and the implications of study design, ambient conditions, physical processes, farm management, statistical analysis, companion parameters, and the potential for confounding effects. Pragmatic
consideration of these aspects will ultimately serve to better frame the costs and benefits of discrete pelagic sampling at open-water aquaculture sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-480
JournalAquaculture Environment Interactions
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2016


  • Sampling design
  • pelagic
  • IMTA
  • Nutrients
  • Cage aquaculture
  • Farm-scale

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