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Effects of proximity to offshore fish farms over soft-bottom macrofauna

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 October 2014

Rodrigo Riera
Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico (CIMA SL), Arzobispo Elías Yanes, 44, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Fernando Tuya
BIOGES, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35017 Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
Óscar Pérez
Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico (CIMA SL), Arzobispo Elías Yanes, 44, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Eva Ramos
Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico (CIMA SL), Arzobispo Elías Yanes, 44, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Myriam Rodríguez
Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico (CIMA SL), Arzobispo Elías Yanes, 44, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Óscar Monterroso
Centro de Investigaciones Medioambientales del Atlántico (CIMA SL), Arzobispo Elías Yanes, 44, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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Sea-cage fish farms impact the seabed within their immediate vicinity, potentially affecting recipient communities. We assessed whether proximity to three sea-cage fish farms at the Canary Islands altered patterns in the abundance, assemblage structure and richness of soft-bottom macrofauna. We related among-farm variability in dissimilarities in macrofaunal assemblage structure between seabeds beneath cages and controls to differences in hydrodynamics, production and seabed topography. Contrasting patterns of species abundances with varying proximity to fish farms were observed: some species decreased while other species increased their abundances with increasing distance at some farms. Although faunal assemblages at 0 m (i.e. beneath the cages) were different, in terms of assemblage structure, from those found at controls, pairwise differences in assemblage structure among distances away varied among the studied fish farms. Species richness showed inconsistent patterns with proximity to cages among fish farms. In summary, inconsistent patterns of macrofaunal assemblages with varying proximity to aquaculture facilities preclude confident predictions on the way offshore aquaculture alters macrofauna in the study region.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014 

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