Norwegian salmon production doubled from 0.43 million tons in 1999 to 0.86 million tons in 2009, with further growth expected. A considerable amount of the feed used is released into the surrounding waters as respiratory products, faeces and uneaten feed, and there is an increasing concern regarding the potentially negative impacts that this nutrient load may have. One of the major challenges for the sustainable development of salmon aquaculture is therefore to minimize waste discharges that may lead to degradation of the local marine environment. For this purpose, it has been suggested to cultivate extractive and filter feeding species, e.g. seaweed and mussels, close to fish farms in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), thereby contributing to a more ecologically balanced ecosystem approach in marine aquaculture.
The primary objectives of this thesis were to investigate whether blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) can incorporate and utilize components of salmon fish feed and faeces particles for growth. The secondary objectives were to assess the ambient conditions for mussel cultivation in the coastal areas of Central Norway, and to test for the possibility of using land-based storage or creating non-toxic areas for storage of mussels at sea to meet a possible increase in mussel production from a development of IMTA in Norway.
Mussels cleared salmon feed and faeces particles out of suspension with a high efficiency, suggesting that mussels can remove particulate wastes from salmon farming. In combination with a better growth for mussels fed salmon feed than faeces, a more pronounced incorporation of salmon feed compared to salmon faeces components in mussel tissues indicated that mussels will utilize salmon fish feed more efficiently than faeces particles in an integrated production with salmon.
A one-year case study further revealed the incorporation of salmon fish feed in mussel tissues and five months with a higher soft tissue weight of mussels co-produced with salmon compared to control mussels, particularly during autumn and winter when phytoplankton concentrations were low, while control mussels demonstrated a higher soft tissue weight after peak phytoplankton levels in early summer. Mussels at the salmon farm showed a faster growth in length during the spring, while control mussels grew faster during the summer, thus resulting in equal growth rates for the fastest growing mussels co-produced with salmon and control mussels for the entire year. The results suggest that the combined production of mussels and salmon can be seen as a strategy to mitigate environmental effects of particulate nutrient wastes from salmon farming, and to maintain a higher soft tissue content of mussels during autumn and winter.
Ambient Chl a concentrations in the coastal areas of Central Norway ranged bellow 2 μg L−1 after the spring bloom and were considered low. Food availability measured as suspended particulate matter (SPM) was, however, consistently above the threshold level of 4 mg L-1 for pseudo-faeces production in mussels of 1 g soft tissue dry matter, with an organic content of 32-44%, and did not appear to restrict mussel growth. SPM may therefore be an important food source to sustain mussel growth when phytoplankton concentrations are low.
Temperature-dependent feed requirements were evident from significantly higher oxygen consumption and ammonia-N excretion rates at 14°C compared to 7°C at landbased storage conditions. Minimum feed requirements for the weight maintenance of mussels with 500 mg soft tissue dry matter is estimated at 240 and 570 μg C ind-1 h-1 at 7°C and 14°C, respectively. Mussels kept at land-based storage conditions maintained their soft tissue content and thus a high quality in early summer (May-June) while a significant decrease in soft tissue matter was evident among farmed mussels at sea in the same period. The results suggest that land-based storage can be used for obtaining a continuous mussel production in Norway independent of harvesting problems related to toxic algae blooms and extreme weather.
Artificial upwelling in a stratified fjord resulted in an increased nutrient supply to euphotic waters and a correspondingly increase in phytoplankton biomass with a relative reduction of toxic algae. The increase in phytoplankton biomass was mainly represented by non-toxic dinoflagellates, and not diatoms, which was expected from an increased input of silicate from deep water. Nevertheless, the result is promising when it comes to creating controlled geographical areas with non-toxic food for storage of mussels and a continuous mussel production.