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Issue 6, 2011
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Do salmon farms increase the concentrations of mercury and other elements in wild fish?

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Abstract

Earlier assessments have suggested that salmon farms may act as a source of mercury (Hg) and other elements in local marine environments. In this study, we measured 30 elements in the livers of demersal Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and pelagic saithe (Pollachius virens) caught in association with salmon farms (farm associated [FA]; n = 75) or at reference locations (control; n = 80) in three regions throughout the latitudinal extent of Norway (59–70° N). Concentrations of most elements (24 of 30) were higher (20–70%) in cod compared to saithe. In particular, Hg was 6.8 times higher in cod than saithe. Nine elements were significantly different between FA saithe and control saithe, but only four (Hg, U, Cr and Mn) were highest in FA saithe, and this pattern was only detected consistently across all locations for Hg. Thirteen elements differed in concentration between FA cod and control cod, but only three elements (U, Al and Ba) were higher in FA cod than controls, and this pattern was only detected consistently across all locations for Al. After controlling for a set of potentially confounding variables, the estimated concentrations of Hg in saithe livers were ∼80% higher in FA fish compared to controls. In contrast, Hg concentrations were ∼40% higher in control cod compared to FA cod. Our results do not support the notion that salmon farms in general increase the concentrations of potentially harmful elements in wild fish, and the distribution of Hg and other elements in cod and saithe in Norwegian coastal waters may be more influenced by habitat use, diet, geochemical conditions and water chemistry.

Graphical abstract: Do salmon farms increase the concentrations of mercury and other elements in wild fish?

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Publication details

The article was received on 27 Jan 2011, accepted on 24 Mar 2011 and first published on 17 May 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1EM10083A
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2011,13, 1687-1694
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    Do salmon farms increase the concentrations of mercury and other elements in wild fish?

    J. O. Bustnes, T. Nygård, T. Dempster, T. Ciesielski, B. M. Jenssen, P. A. Bjørn and I. Uglem, J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 1687
    DOI: 10.1039/C1EM10083A

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