The benthic impacts of a large cod farm - are there indicators for environmental sustainability?

Thom Nickell, Kenny Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


A cod farm in Vidlin Voe, Shetland was at the time of the study the largest cod farm in Europe, and was started in 2003. Run according to organic principles, the farm consisted of 17 ¿ 32 m diameter cages in the 3 km long sea loch (locally known as voe), which though extremely exposed at the mouth, is sheltered near the cages.

Benthic macrofauna and physical/chemical sediment parameters were measured in the summer months of 2004, 2005 and 2006 as biomass increased in the growing cycle. A range of biotic indices showed the benthic environment was enriched at peak biomass of the farm, but by contrast, surficial CHN levels and organic matter were low and uniform. The commonly used sediment indicators redox, total organic carbon and total organic nitrogen did not correlate well with biotic indicators at this site. Predictions from a near-field particle tracking and resuspension model (CODMOD) and a simple nutrient enhancement box model of the voe system (Equilibrium Concentration Enhancement (ECE) model), were used to assess the assimilative capacity of the system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-237
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Cod aquaculture; Environmental impacts; Benthic macrofauna; Biotic indicators; Shetland


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