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Cleaning up seas using blue growth initiatives: Mussel farming for eutrophication control in the Baltic Sea

Journal article
Authors Jonne Kotta
Martyn Futter
Ants Kaasik
Kiran Liversage
Merli Rätsep
Francisco R. Barboza
Lena Bergström
Per Bergström
Ivo Bobsien
Eliecer Díaz
Kristjan Herkül
Per R. Jonsson
Samuli Korpinen
Patrik Kraufvelin
Peter Krost
Odd Lindahl
Mats Lindegarth
Maren Moltke Lyngsgaard
Martina Mühl
Antonia Nyström Sandman
Helen Orav-Kotta
Marina Orlova
Henrik Skov
Jouko Rissanen
Andrius Šiaulys
Aleksandar Vidakovic
Elina Virtanen
Published in Science of the Total Environment
Volume 709
ISSN 0048-9697
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of marine sciences, Tjärnö Marine Laboratory
Language en
Keywords Aquaculture, Baltic Sea, Blue growth, Eutrophication control, Internal measures, Mussel farming
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Environmental Engineering


© 2019 The Authors Eutrophication is a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems globally with pronounced negative effects in the Baltic and other semi-enclosed estuaries and regional seas, where algal growth associated with excess nutrients causes widespread oxygen free “dead zones” and other threats to sustainability. Decades of policy initiatives to reduce external (land-based and atmospheric) nutrient loads have so far failed to control Baltic Sea eutrophication, which is compounded by significant internal release of legacy phosphorus (P) and biological nitrogen (N) fixation. Farming and harvesting of the native mussel species (Mytilus edulis/trossulus) is a promising internal measure for eutrophication control in the brackish Baltic Sea. Mussels from the more saline outer Baltic had higher N and P content than those from either the inner or central Baltic. Despite their relatively low nutrient content, harvesting farmed mussels from the central Baltic can be a cost-effective complement to land-based measures needed to reach eutrophication status targets and is an important contributor to circularity. Cost effectiveness of nutrient removal is more dependent on farm type than mussel nutrient content, suggesting the need for additional development of farm technology. Furthermore, current regulations are not sufficiently conducive to implementation of internal measures, and may constitute a bottleneck for reaching eutrophication status targets in the Baltic Sea and elsewhere.

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