Monitoring the effects of offshore aquaculture on water quality in the Red Sea

  • Aislinn Dunne

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

The Saudi Arabian government has announced an economic development plan (Vision 2030) to invest in a range of industries across the Kingdom, one of which is the development of aquaculture. In the face of a likely increase in Red Sea fish farming, we investigated the impacts of offshore fish farms on the coastal water quality of the Red Sea by a) measuring the environmental impacts of an operational Red Sea fish farm, and b) testing whether an existing aquaculture modeling software can be used as a meaningful planning tool in the development of Red Sea aquaculture. Water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, nutrients, particulate matter, chlorophyll, ammonium, and bacterial abundance were measured seasonally over the course of a year around an offshore fish farm along the south-central coast of Saudi Arabia to determine the impacts of fish farm effluent on the surrounding waters. Bacteria, phosphate, inorganic nitrogen, and suspended particulate matter showed patterns of enrichment close to the fish farm. Additionally, dissolved oxygen has slightly lower concentrations close to and down current from the fish farms. Benthic sediments from a nearby coral reef were also assessed for organic enrichment, but concentrations of total organic carbon and total nitrogen were not significantly different from those at an offshore reef. The data from these sampling efforts were then used as input parameters for an aquaculture modeling software (AquaModel.net), however many of the input parameters required to run the model were unavailable and meaningful conclusions could not be drawn from the results. Through field studies and modeling, we assessed the current impact of a Red Sea fish farm on water quality with the goal of predicting the potential impacts of future offshore aquaculture development in Saudi Arabia.
Date of AwardJun 2018
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Science and Engineering
SupervisorBurton Jones (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Aquaculture
  • Water Quality
  • Red Sea
  • Nutrients

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