Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Roycroft, D,Kelly, TC,Lewis, LJ;
Birds, seals and the suspension culture of mussels in Bantry Bay, a non-seaduck area in Southwest Ireland
Optional Fields
Ireland coast suspension mariculture seabirds blue mussel Mytilus edulis common seal Phoca vitulina aquaculture OYSTERCATCHERS HAEMATOPUS-OSTRALEGUS IMPACT PREDATION WATER
Concerns about the environmental impacts of mariculture have grown in recent years in response to the rapid expansion of the industry. The blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) is the main product of shellfish mariculture in the Northeast Atlantic and Baltic Sea, with approximately one third of the harvest cultured using suspended longlines within sheltered marine areas. The main aim of this study was to examine the interactions, and assess the impacts (if any) of mussel suspension culture on the seabird and seal community, employing a simultaneous study of culture and control sites. The study spanned a 20-month period (from November 2001 to August 2003) and encompassed six sites in Bantry Bay (Southwest Ireland).There was no significant difference in species richness between mussel and control sites. Similarly, species diversity did not significantly differ between the mussel and control sites although control sites were generally more diverse than mussel sites, the latter particularly dominated by large numbers of Laridae.Significantly higher numbers of Phalacrocoracidae, Laridae and Alcidae were recorded in mussel sites than in control sites. However, no significant difference was found between Gaviidae or common seal (Phoca vitulina) numbers in mussel and control sites. Seasonal patterns of abundance were similar in mussel and control sites, with peak numbers of most species groups occurring in spring.Mussel suspension culture does not appear to have an adverse effect on the abundance of seabirds or common seals in this area. The safe perching platforms provided by suspension culture floats, combined with a number of other factors, contribute to an increased abundance of a number of seabird species, particularly Laridae. The possible interactions between vertebrate predators and mussel suspension aquaculture are discussed and possible explanations for the increased seabird abundance observed in these areas are offered. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2004.07.012
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