Proposed Abstract Title

Assessing The Effects Of Both Contemporary And Historical Shellfish Aquaculture On Marine Biodiversity

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

General Food and Food Security Topics

Location

2016SSEC

Description

Shellfish aquaculture has played a key role in coastal ecosystems for the past 10,000 years and is currently increasing annually at a rate of 8%, making it one of the fastest growing food industries globally. Historically, First Nations clam gardens were constructed during the late Holocene by building rock walls in the low intertidal, which added structural complexity, stabilized sediments and enhanced shellfish productivity. Currently, shellfish aquaculture is associated with similar environmental modifications and plays a key role in meeting the global need for seafood, while alleviating pressure on declining wild populations. The extent to which these aquacultural practices impact marine ecosystems remains unknown but is a critical issue for mitigating potential environmental impacts, ensuring sustainable food security and habitat protection. In an attempt to determine the effects shellfish aquaculture has on marine biodiversity, we evaluated 12 current and historical shellfish aquaculture sites and 12 control sites within three distinct regions (Baynes Sound, Quadra Island, and Calvert Island) along British Columbia’s coast. Initial findings suggest that species diversity and abundance varies locally, regionally and in relation to aquacultural practice. Biodiversity, species abundance and non-native species abundance increased pole wards, while species diversity and species abundance were strongly correlated. These findings further our understanding of how shoreline modifications affect marine biodiversity and community structure. As this project is one of the first large-scale assessments comparing current and historical shellfish aquaculture, our findings will lead to further insight into First Nations cultural practices, ecosystem management, and the long-term implications of shellfish aquaculture.

Comments

Key words: Biodiversity, Aquaculture, Shellfish, First Nations, Clam Garden, Coastal Ecology, Marine ecology, Sustainability, Environmental impact

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Assessing The Effects Of Both Contemporary And Historical Shellfish Aquaculture On Marine Biodiversity

2016SSEC

Shellfish aquaculture has played a key role in coastal ecosystems for the past 10,000 years and is currently increasing annually at a rate of 8%, making it one of the fastest growing food industries globally. Historically, First Nations clam gardens were constructed during the late Holocene by building rock walls in the low intertidal, which added structural complexity, stabilized sediments and enhanced shellfish productivity. Currently, shellfish aquaculture is associated with similar environmental modifications and plays a key role in meeting the global need for seafood, while alleviating pressure on declining wild populations. The extent to which these aquacultural practices impact marine ecosystems remains unknown but is a critical issue for mitigating potential environmental impacts, ensuring sustainable food security and habitat protection. In an attempt to determine the effects shellfish aquaculture has on marine biodiversity, we evaluated 12 current and historical shellfish aquaculture sites and 12 control sites within three distinct regions (Baynes Sound, Quadra Island, and Calvert Island) along British Columbia’s coast. Initial findings suggest that species diversity and abundance varies locally, regionally and in relation to aquacultural practice. Biodiversity, species abundance and non-native species abundance increased pole wards, while species diversity and species abundance were strongly correlated. These findings further our understanding of how shoreline modifications affect marine biodiversity and community structure. As this project is one of the first large-scale assessments comparing current and historical shellfish aquaculture, our findings will lead to further insight into First Nations cultural practices, ecosystem management, and the long-term implications of shellfish aquaculture.