Environmental science and pollution research international

Characterising the fate of nitrogenous waste from the sea-cage aquaculture of spiny lobsters using numerical modelling.

PMID 25601612


Although the aquaculture of spiny lobsters has been expanding since the 1970s, very little is known about the potential environmental impacts on water quality of this activity. This study quantified the production of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) from Australasian red spiny lobsters, Jasus edwardsii, in the laboratory, and these data were then used in a numerical model to predict the dispersal pattern of DIN from a hypothetical commercial spiny lobster farm for a coastal site where such a farm would typically be located. Modelling scenarios were set up with combinations of two different stocking densities (3 and 5 kg m(-3)), two different diets (mussels and moist artificial diet) and three different feed conversion ratios (FCR = 3, 5 and 28). DIN excretion rate from unfed lobsters in the laboratory on average was 1.10 ± 0.12 μg N g(-1) h(-1) while feeding lobsters on mussels and artificial diet increased DIN excretion significantly by around eightfold and twofold, respectively. Ammonia was consistently the dominant contributor to measured DIN output from lobsters. Modelling results indicated that the mean elevated DIN from a hypothetical farm where the lobsters were fed with mussels ranged from 7 up to 20 μg N L(-1) with increasing stocking density and FCR and was 30-150 % higher than the mean elevated DIN resulting from lobsters fed with artificial diet. Overall, the results indicated that DIN output from the hypothetical spiny lobster sea-cage farming is unlikely to be problematic using the FCR, stocking density, and the number of cages modelled at the coastal site in this study. Furthermore, feeding lobsters with artificial diet can help maintain a lower DIN output than seafood, such as mussels or trash fish.