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Spatial correlation and potential conflicts between sea cage farms and coral reefs in South East Asia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Number of Authors: 4
2015 (English)In: Aquaculture, ISSN 0044-8486, E-ISSN 1873-5622, Vol. 448, 418-426 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the South China and Java Seas, cage farming is a recent regional activity, which since the year 2000 has experienced an annual growth of 29%. The region holds the highest diversity of marine life, which is partly or completely dependent on coral reefs. The increasingly growing coastal human population in the area relies on ecosystem goods and services provided by the reefs that are threatened by anthropogenic activities. Sea cage farming is one of the stressors negatively impacting coral reefs by being point sources of nutrients and other effluents. To date no systematic information is available on the physical location of marine farms in relation to the coral reefs. Little is known about the distance where impact from the farms can be detected on nearby coral reefs. The present survey aimed to fill this gap by assessing to what extent marine cage farms in South East Asia are placed in the vicinity of the reefs and at which distance stress indicators from the farms are observed. We used Google Earth satellite images to investigate the extension and spatial distribution of sea cage aquaculture in relation to the presence of coral reefs. The stress indicators were locally assessed in Central Vietnam by recording turf algal overgrowth, coral mortality, live coral and branching coral cover at increasing distances from the farms. We found that 90% of sea cage farms throughout the region clustered closer than 5 km from coral reefs and 50% of them closer than 1 km from reefs. In Taiwan, 71% of the cages were located within 100m from a reef. This pattern is nonrandom and could not be explained by the natural distribution of coral reefs; only 5% of the Vietnamese coast harbors coral reefs, and sea cage farms are present in these areas only. This indicates that the farms require similar conditions as the reefs including clear and shallow waters and protection against storms and wave action. We found that turf algal overgrowth decreased at 287 m +/- 54 m, dead coral at 1446m +/- 154 m, live coral cover increased at 566 +/- 221 m and branching corals increased at 867 m +/- 140 m from the cage farms. We conclude that proximity to coral reefs should be considered when planning future developments of sea cage aquaculture, and recommend that distances of at least 1.5 km should be kept. Statement of relevance: Consider coral reefs when planning sea cage aquaculture site.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 448, 418-426 p.
Keyword [en]
Google Earth, Marine cage aquaculture, Coral reefs, South East Asia, Spatial planning
National Category
Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-121485DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.06.024ISI: 000360189000054OAI: diva2:860625
Available from: 2015-10-13 Created: 2015-10-05 Last updated: 2015-10-13Bibliographically approved

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Hedberg, NilsKautsky, NilsTedengren, Michael
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