Home > news > NOAA Estimates Nitrogen Removal Rates from Shellfish Farms around the World

NOAA Estimates Nitrogen Removal Rates from Shellfish Farms around the World

Published on: 01/05/2015
Primary Contact(s): suzanne.bricker@noaa.gov

Excessive nutrient input into estuarine and coastal environments, also known as eutrophication, can lead to algal blooms, oxygen depletion, fish kills, and a general loss of key habitats. New research from NOAA supports using shellfish aquaculture for nutrient removal and eutrophicationreduction.

To include shellfish aquaculture as part of a comprehensive approach to nutrient management, scientistsmeasured the amount of nitrogen removed from the local environment by a shellfish farmby applyingthe Farm Aquaculture Resource Management (FARM) model, which estimatesthe impactof shellfish nutrient removalthrough both growth and harvest, as well asshellfish production. Applied to 14 locations across nine countries and four continents, considering seven species of shellfish, the model estimated an overall range of annualnitrogen removal from 105 to 1356 pounds per acre. These results compare favorably to reported nitrogen removal effectiveness of agricultural best management practices and stormwater control measures, indicatingshellfish aquaculture as an effectivecandidate for inclusion in nutrient trading programs. Determininga potential range of nitrogen removal rates by shellfish farms is valuable to coastal planners andregulatorslooking todevelopwatershed-scale nitrogen reduction plans. These results support theongoing global discussion among growers and regulators about the role of shellfish aquaculture in reducingeutrophication-related problems while also providing a source of sustainable seafood.

This research was conducted by scientists withNOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the New University of Lisbon.

For more information, contact Suzanne.Bricker@noaa.gov or Julie.Rose@noaa.gov.

The publication is available online here.

Related Project Pages:


Explore Similar News

NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
1305 East West Highway, Rm 8110
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (240) 533-0300 / Fax: (301) 713-4353
Email: nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov

    Sign Up for Our Quarterly Newsletter