Environmental monitoring of the impacts from marine finfish farms on soft bottom

This International Standard establishes an approach for sampling and empirical measurement of soft-bottom impacts from marine finfish net pen farms, and gives examples of detailed procedures for how environmental impacts from finfish net pen farm sites can be monitored in the field, including guidelines for quality assurance of sampling protocols and safety. The emphasis of the environmental impact in this International Standard is on eutrophication effects on the seabed. This International Standard identifies ecological objectives, the indicators used, and the methodology and design, and encompasses guidelines for quality assurance of sampling protocols and operational safety.

Surveillance environnementale des impacts sur le fond mou des exploitations de pisciculture marine

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Status
Published
Publication Date
25-Jun-2012
Current Stage
9020 - International Standard under periodical review
Start Date
15-Apr-2017
Completion Date
15-Jul-2022
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ISO 12878:2012 - Environmental monitoring of the impacts from marine finfish farms on soft bottom
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INTERNATIONAL ISO
STANDARD 12878
First edition
2012-07-01
Environmental monitoring of the impacts
from marine finfish farms on soft bottom
Surveillance environnementale des impacts sur le fond mou des
exploitations de pisciculture marine
Reference number
ISO 12878:2012(E)
ISO 2012
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO 2012

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, no part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means,

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Published in Switzerland
ii © ISO 2012 – All rights reserved
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ............................................................................................................................................................................iv

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................................ v

1 Scope ...................................................................................................................................................................... 1

2 Normative references ......................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions ......................................................................................................................................... 1

4 Principles for monitoring .................................................................................................................................. 3

4.1 Aim and principles .............................................................................................................................................. 3

4.2 Impact zones ......................................................................................................................................................... 4

4.3 Survey types ......................................................................................................................................................... 5

5 Methodology ......................................................................................................................................................... 5

5.1 Sampling strategy ............................................................................................................................................... 5

5.2 Frequency of operational monitoring of local impact zone ..................................................................... 7

5.3 Frequency of operational transect monitoring ........................................................................................... 7

5.4 Evaluation of results .........................................................................................................................................10

5.5 Maps and charts ................................................................................................................................................ 11

5.6 Additional data collection — Biological production at finfish farm .................................................... 11

5.7 Report ................................................................................................................................................................... 11

6 Quality assurance and quality control ......................................................................................................... 11

6.1 Aim and principles ............................................................................................................................................ 11

6.2 Equipment calibration and operating safety ..............................................................................................12

6.3 Checklists, sample log and anomaly reporting .........................................................................................12

6.4 Taxa identification .............................................................................................................................................12

Annex A (informative) Examples on environmental monitoring on the seabed impact from marine

finfish farms ........................................................................................................................................................13

Annex B (informative) Example — Base map ...........................................................................................................21

Annex C (informative) Example of monitoring report format and some sample content .............................22

Bibliography .....................................................................................................................................................................30

© ISO 2012 – All rights reserved iii
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies

(ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out through ISO

technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical committee has been

established has the right to be represented on that committee. International organizations, governmental and

non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work. ISO collaborates closely with the International

Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of electrotechnical standardization.

International Standards are drafted in accordance with the rules given in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2.

The main task of technical committees is to prepare International Standards. Draft International Standards

adopted by the technical committees are circulated to the member bodies for voting. Publication as an

International Standard requires approval by at least 75 % of the member bodies casting a vote.

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of patent

rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights.

ISO 12878 was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 234, Fisheries and aquaculture.

iv © ISO 2012 – All rights reserved
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
Introduction

Particulate effluents from finfish farms can affect environmental conditions on the surrounding seafloor as well

as the health of the farmed fish. These effluents consist of excess feed and faecal pellets from the fish, and

are released as particles in a variety of sizes, depending on the fish species, feed type, temperature and other

conditions in the aquaculture operation. Depending on the hydrodynamic and bathymetric conditions in the

area, the particles settle on the seabed at various distances from the finfish cages. This leads to changes in

the chemistry and the biology of the sediments, and if the effluent load is high it can even result in sediments

depleted of biota.

The aquaculture industry is dependent on favourable environmental conditions to ensure good fish health and

optimal growth. Excessive accumulation of organic material in the form of waste feed pellets and fish faeces

can change the habitat characteristics of bottom substrates, leading to eutrophication and associated negative

changes in biodiversity. Repeated and systematic monitoring can give an overview of changes in bottom

conditions, and remedial action can be implemented should the developments be in a negative direction.

All livestock farming has some impact on the environment. It is intended that the environmental impact on the

seabed not exceed acceptable and agreed-upon limits established for the local impact zone or farm licence

area. Threshold values for environmental impact are expected to be set to prevent unacceptable impact on

the seabed in the surrounding area and on its biota. Threshold values are also expected to ensure favourable

living conditions for farmed fish such that finfish farm sites can be in use over a longer time period. Pollution

control authorities define threshold values for environmental quality. For personnel and organizations using this

International Standard, it can be helpful to have a reference to the legal and policy framework of their country

or state. It is strongly intended to streamline the environmental monitoring process in a way that involves all

institutions responsible for the marine environment.

The main emphasis of this International Standard is on methods for measuring impacts on the bottom conditions

at and around finfish farm sites. In certain cases, there can be a need for a broader environmental monitoring

programme to highlight a given set of problems or to consider the condition of the receiving environment, as

a whole. In this International Standard, examples of monitoring surveys of finfish farms in some countries are

presented in Annex A.

Finfish farm sites, which are sited over seabed consisting of bedrock, larger rocks/stones or other hard

substrate, can be surveyed following the guidelines given in ISO 19493. This International Standard only gives

guidelines for monitoring of effluents from finfish farms sited on soft bottom.
© ISO 2012 – All rights reserved v
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INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ISO 12878:2012(E)
Environmental monitoring of the impacts from marine finfish
farms on soft bottom
1 Scope

This International Standard establishes an approach for sampling and empirical measurement of soft-bottom

impacts from marine finfish net pen farms, and gives examples of detailed procedures for how environmental

impacts from finfish net pen farm sites can be monitored in the field, including guidelines for quality assurance

of sampling protocols and safety. The emphasis of the environmental impact in this International Standard is

on eutrophication effects on the seabed.

This International Standard identifies ecological objectives, the indicators used, and the methodology and

design, and encompasses guidelines for quality assurance of sampling protocols and operational safety.

2 Normative references

The following referenced documents are indispensable for the application of this document. For dated

references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition of the referenced document

(including any amendments) applies.

ISO 16665, Water quality — Guidelines for quantitative sampling and sample processing of marine soft-

bottom macrofauna
3 Terms and definitions
For the purposes of this document, the following terms and definitions apply.
3.1
anchoring area
area delimited by the anchoring points of the cage area
3.2
anchor line
line, cable or chain from the anchor points to the cage area
3.3
anchor points
attachment point of the anchor line
3.4
area of influence

area of seabed where environment is influenced or expected to be influenced, based on the available information

or as identified through the use of predictive models
3.5
baseline monitoring

sampling of an area of influence, which previously was not used for finfish production

3.6
benthic
associated with the seafloor
[ISO 16665:2005, definition 2.2]
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
3.7
benthic macrofauna

bottom-dwelling animals retained on a mesh screen of 0,5 mm or 1 mm aperture size

[ISO 16665:2005, definition 2.3]
3.8
biological production

biomass remaining in the cages(s) at the end of the year, minus the starting biomass at the beginning of the

year, plus harvested biomass, mortalities and waste

NOTE The term “waste” includes escapees and sorted-out fish, which are not harvested.

3.9
cage

floating framework with attached net bag, which encloses the fish, and which forms a part of the fish farm

3.10
cage area
area of seabed directly below the cage
3.11
environmental monitoring

systematic observation, measurement and calculation of the condition of the environment, emission of pollutants

or populations and species, which are necessary for the assessment of the condition of the environment, the

development of environment policies and the planning of environmental protection measures, as well as the

control of the effectiveness thereof
3.12
fish farm site
geographically defined location for aquaculture
3.13
hard substrate
hard bottom

substrate consisting of bedrock, larger rocks/stones or fixed marine constructions such as wharfs, quays

and pipelines
3.14
indicator species

benthic species that defines a trait or characteristic of the environment or that serves as a measure of the

environmental conditions existing in a given location
3.15
monitoring level

scope of survey required to determine whether or not the environmental impact is retained within specified

threshold values
3.16
monitoring programme

set of routine measurements of parameters which describe environmental effects from finfish farms

3.17
operational monitoring
sampling conducted during operation of a finfish aquaculture facility
3.18
pilot survey
survey used for simple rapid assessment and basic information on a site
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
3.19
production cycle

period from the time fish are initially stocked into the sea until the cohort is completely removed through

harvesting or transfer
3.20
receiving environment
water body that receives input of natural or anthropogenic origin
3.21
reference station

sampling station chosen to represent background or natural environmental conditions in a given area on

seabed, i.e. free from direct anthropogenic influences
NOTE Adapted from ISO 16665:2005.
3.22
sampling station
precise location where recording is carried out and any samples are collected
NOTE Adapted from ISO 16665:2005.
3.23
sediment condition
classification of the observed condition in the sediment
3.24
soft bottom

areas of seafloor consisting of loose deposited particles, including clay, mud, sand and gravel, shells and

maerl, where it is possible to sample with a grab or a corer

NOTE A minimum of three sampling attempts are intended to be carried out. If any one is successful, it is intended

that the substrate be treated as soft. It also includes mixed substrata with gravels, small stones and pebbles scattered on

a bed of finer material, but excludes cobble.
3.25
soft-bottom fauna
animals living on or completely/partially buried in soft sediments
3.26
tenure

total area on seabed that is licensed or otherwise permitted by governmental authority to be utilized for finfish farming

3.27
threshold value

value of a parameter that divides between defined levels of impact in a monitoring programme

3.28
transect monitoring
documentation of qualitative and quantitative changes over a distance
4 Principles for monitoring
4.1 Aim and principles

The ecological objective of the monitoring is systematic observation, measurement and calculation of the

condition of the environment, emission of pollutants or populations and species, which are necessary for the

assessment of the condition of the environment, and the planning of environmental protection measures, as

well as the control of the effectiveness thereof.
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ISO 12878:2012(E)

The effort of environmental monitoring should be proportional to the scale of impact and should focus on long

term sustainable use of the seabed in farming areas.

Principles for monitoring of environmental impact on the seabed may be summarized as follows:

— before a site is utilized for aquaculture production, baseline monitoring should be carried out, if possible;

— if baseline monitoring is not possible, a reference station may be utilized for comparison;

— threshold values for environmental impact should be set such that finfish farm sites may be in use over a

longer time period.. These values should aim to ensure favourable living conditions for farmed fish as well

as to prevent unacceptable impact on the surrounding seabed area. The responsible government may

have established threshold values for unacceptable impact and impact categories;

— monitoring of the seabed should be regular; the more impact a finfish farm has on the seabed, the more

often the monitoring survey should be performed (see Table 3);

— different monitoring surveys may be used in different areas: where little impact is tolerated by pollution

authorities or by society, the survey should be able to detect subtle changes; where more impact is

tolerated, a simpler survey may be enough to provide a satisfactory result;

— the monitoring survey used should be suited to the task and the following considered: the aim of the

monitoring; how detailed the survey should be to provide a comprehensive result; the level of accuracy

needed for the measured variables; practicality, efficiency, time consumption and costs involved in relation

to the outcome; transparency;

— surveys comprising multiple parameters are less sensitive to anomalies in individual parameters and may

provide a more robust result;

— the variables that make up a monitoring survey may be organized in modules and be replaced or modified,

as appropriate, according to new knowledge, techniques or legislations.
4.2 Impact zones

Finfish farm effluent consists of large particles (e.g. waste feed pellets and intact faecal pellets), smaller

suspended particles (e.g. feed dust and broken faecal pellets) and dissolved material (nutrients, organic

compounds, etc.). These types of effluents have different potential dispersal kinetics and affect the water

column and seafloor at varying distances from the finfish farm. Normally, a greater impact is accepted under

a finfish farm than further out into the receiving environment. Around a finfish farm, various impact zones are

formed, which are affected to different degrees (see Table 1). For medium- to high-current sites, it is possible

that the maximum impact does not occur under the farm, but rather adjacent and down current to the farm.

Table 1 — Overview of impact zones
Type of impact zone
Local impact zone Intermediate impact zone Regional impact zone

Definition Area of seabed under and near Area of seabed between the Area of seabed beyond

a finfish farm where most of the local impact zone and the intermediate zone
larger particles are deposited, regional impact zone, where
e.g. less than 30 m from cages. sedimentation of smaller
particles occurs. At deep,
high-current sites, also larger
particles can accumulate here.
Source of Finfish farm The finfish farm is the main The finfish farm is one of
impact source of impact, but other several potential sources of
factors can also contribute. impact.

Potential Changes in the physical, Usually less impacts relative to Changes in benthic fauna and

impact chemical and biological the local impact zone. community structure
conditions on the seafloor

The type of survey used depends on the level of impact and on the kind of impact zone which is monitored.

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ISO 12878:2012(E)
4.3 Survey types

Surveys may be divided into three main categories (see Table 2) according to the objectives.

Table 2 — Overview of main categories of survey type
Survey type Objectives

Baseline monitoring Characterizes conditions in a given area of seabed before operation of a finfish aquaculture

facility. Also maps or identifies the impact of other sources. Faunal composition and/or

biogeochemical and hydrodynamic parameters are compared with specified assessment

criteria or simply with other representative areas of seabed (reference areas).

Operational monitoring The samples are taken close to the aquaculture facility in the local impact zone for frequent

of local impact zone surveillance of impact from finfish farm.

Operational transect The samples are taken in a transect from the local, to the intermediate and to the regional

monitoring impact zone for surveillance of the impact o the finfish farm, impact of other potential

sources and for documentation of natural environmental and biological changes.

In addition, a pilot survey may be conducted. A pilot survey gives a general overview of bottom and faunal

conditions and is used either for simple rapid assessment or to give basic information for designing more

detailed sampling programmes.
For further information on the different survey types, see ISO 16665.
5 Methodology
5.1 Sampling strategy
5.1.1 Sampling programme and planning

The design of the sampling programme depends on the detailed aims of the survey and the required power of

the data. The programme should be developed with regard to local bathymetric and hydrodynamic conditions

in the survey seabed area, information on local contamination sources and knowledge from previous surveys,

if any. The number of sampling stations, their positions and numbers of replicate samples to be taken at

each sampling station, as described in the following subclauses, should be established according to the main

prevalent currents within the area and prior to the initiation of the survey.

Baseline monitoring of the seafloor is conducted before operation of a finfish aquaculture facility is started.

Based on information about water currents, bathymetry and layout for the planned finfish farm, the amount

and pattern of the deposition of effluents from the farm on the seafloor may be predicted. A frequently used

term for this deposition is “footprint of deposition” around the cages. There are several ways to estimate the

footprint of deposition. A simplified method for prediction is to include the potential site area of seabed, plus

the expected deposition downstream of the finfish farm. Recommended computerized tools for prediction of

deposition footprints around finfish operations are also available. Based on the predicted footprint of deposition

and information about water currents, bathymetry and layout for the planned finfish farm, the geographical

coordinates for the sampling stations for baseline and operational monitoring can be set out as described in 5.1.2.

For finfish farms that are already established, positioning makes reference to the positions of cages and containments

and, if possible, to geographic position survey locations. It can be set out directly as described in 5.1.2.

For groups of adjacent compact cages or cage arrays, the samples should be taken along the outer edge of,

and, if possible, in between the individual cages. The sampling area of seabed should, as far as possible, be

representative of the entire area under the finfish farm (local impact zone).

For dispersed cages, the samples should be taken along the outer edge of the cages, and if possible,, in

between the individual dispersed cages. At least one sample should be taken at each cage, depending on the

total number of cages at the finfish farm site, as well as a holistic assessment of how the most representative

picture may be achieved.
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ISO 12878:2012(E)
5.1.2 Positioning of sampling stations

Before the positioning of sampling stations, information about water currents, bathymetry, layout and deposition

footprint for the finfish farm should be available.
5.1.2.1 Sampling stations for operational monitoring of local impact zone

A minimum of four samples should be taken from each finfish farming site. Additional samples should be

considered depending on the size of the operation. Sampling should be carried out from the edge of the

cages or containments, or in their immediate vicinity. The sampling points should be positioned according to

the bathymetry, dominant current direction and the dimensions and layout of the finfish farm, such that they

represent as greatly as possible, the entire local impact zone.

All the observations made should be noted in the field log and included in the subsequent evaluation of results.

All sampling positions should be shown on a map, preferably geo-referenced.
5.1.2.2 Sampling stations for operational transect monitoring

Samples from at least three sampling stations, at least one in each impact zone, should be taken. These three

stations shall be considered fixed long-term monitoring stations, provided the cages do not shift in location due

to intentional or unintentional changes.

The number of replicates taken on each sampling station should be chosen on the basis of statistical necessity.

At least two replicates are recommended at each sampling station:

— at least one set of samples should be taken in the local impact zone downstream as close to the cage area

as practicable (sampling station 1) at the perimeter of containment structures;

— at least one set should be taken downstream in the intermediate impact zone (sampling station 2), typically

30 m away from cage area or as defined by the regulator;

— at least one set should be taken downstream in the regional impact zone (sampling station 3), typically,

100 m from cage area or as defined by the regulator;

— if a depression exists in the area of influence where accumulation of waste from the finfish farm is

probable, sampling station 3 is positioned in this depression. In this case, sampling station 2 should be

taken downstream in the intermediate impact zone, half-way between the cage area and the depression.

If the cages are located over a steep slope without sediment accumulation, sampling station 1 and sampling

station 2 should be positioned at the foot of the slope. If it is not possible to obtain samples from near the finfish

farm (sampling station 1) or further out into the intermediate impact zone (sampling station 2), all three sampling

stations should be positioned in the nearest deep area of seabed.
5.1.2.3 Sampling stations for baseline monitoring

The same number of stations for baseline monitoring are positioned, if possible, at the same geographical

coordinates or relative positions as stations for operational monitoring of the local impact zone plus stations for

operational transect monitoring. Furthermore, one or more reference stations should be chosen between 500 m

and 2 000 m beyond the local impact zone. Reference stations are used to determine whether observed changes

adjacent to the farm are a result of farm activities or due to changes in the broader receiving environment.

They can also be used to indicate changes in the receiving environment associated with carrying capacity. The

reference stations should, as far as possible, be representative of conditions unaffected by effluent sources

and allow assessment of natural temporal and spatial variations in the soft-bottom faunal communities.

Reference stations should be located in conditions as similar as possible to those at the regular sampling

stations, i.e. with similar depth and sediment type as indicated by analyses of sediment grain size distribution.

Multiple reference stations are particularly important in heterogeneous areas of seabed. Reference stations

should be considered as fixed long-term monitoring stations.

A baseline survey consists of a minimum of eight sampling stations: a minimum of four sampling stations, which

during operation of the finfish farm are used as sampling stations for operational monitoring of local impact

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ISO 12878:2012(E)

zone, plus a minimum of three sampling stations that later will be used for operational transect monitoring, plus

minimum one reference station.

Baseline monitoring of the seabed is conducted only once before operation of the farm is started. The

parameters, which are monitored during a baseline survey, are described in Table 5. Reference station(s) are,

in general, monitored during baseline monitoring and only during operation of a finfish farm if environmental

conditions in the area require a comparison with fixed long-term monitoring stations.

5.1.2.4 Positioning of sampling stations for operations with scattered distribution

In special circumstances, sampling stations may be randomly distributed. An example of this application can

be where no previous knowledge of the seabed area is available as a guide to appropriate positioning, for

instance for baseline monitoring in an area of seabed where it is intended to establish several small finfish

farms close to each other in a region. This can also be the case in regions where organic input comes from

several independently managed finfish farm operations and where it is not possible to establish a set of

sampling stations, which is unaffected by neighbouring farms or other sources of organic input. Under these

circumstances, monitoring stations for monitoring of intermediate and regional impact zones may be positioned

randomly distributed. Reference stations should still be positioned beyond the affected seabed area. The

reference stations should, as far as possible, be representative of conditions unaffected by effluent sources

and allow assessment of natural temporal and spatial variations in the soft-bottom faunal communities. Stations

for opera
...

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