Scientia Marina, Vol 69, No 2 (2005)

Contribution of fish farming to the nutrient loading of the Mediterranean

Ioannis Karakassis
University of Crete, Department of Biology, Greece

Paraskevi Pitta
Institute of Marine Biology of Crete, Greece

Michael D. Krom
School of Earth Sciences, Leeds University, United Kingdom


Mediterranean fish farming has grown exponentially during the last 20 years. Although there is little evidence of the impact on the trophy status around fish farms, there are concerns that the release of solute wastes from aquaculture might affect larger scales in the ecosystem by changing the nutrient load. After combining information from various sources on waste production and on nutrient loads, it was concluded that the overall N and P waste from fish farms in the Mediterranean represents less than 5% of the total annual anthropogenic discharge, and the overall annual increase in P and N pools in the Mediterranean, under a production rate of 150000 tons, is less than 0.01%. The proportion of fish farming discharged nutrients was slightly higher in the eastern Mediterranean. A simple model was used to assess the long-term effects of nutrients released from various sources taking into account the water renewal rate in the Mediterranean. We conclude that, in the long term, fish farm waste could cause a 1% increase in nutrient concentrations in contrast to other anthropogenic activities which might double the Mediterranean nutrient pool.


Mediterranean; nutrients; cage farming; anthropogenic eutrophication

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Copyright (c) 2005 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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