Addressing Concerns for Water Quality Impacts
from Large-Scale Great Lakes Aquaculture

Based on a Roundtable
Co-hosted by the Habitat Advisory Board of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission

August, 1999


Aquaculture is an emerging issue in the Great Lakes basin caused by an increased demand for freshwater fish and concern over expansion of a relatively new industry. Globally, the current demand for seafood has increased to the point where the United Nations estimates that nearly one-quarter of the protein in human diets is derived from seafood, of which 21% of the world consumption of seafood comes from aquaculture. With the rapid expansion of aquaculture there has been an increased concern for the impacts the industry might have on water quality and biota, as well as economic and social benefits. A specific concern has been poor monitoring and assessment of existing sites and poor predictive capability for the impacts of new sites.

An increasing interest in aquaculture development in the Great Lakes basin has prompted the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to sponsor development of a model management program for private aquaculture. Towards this goal, an aquaculture environmental assessment tool is being developed to be a user-friendly, interactive, window-based program that addresses lake-based, land-based, and secured aquaculture systems. This decision support system involves three interrelated components: the assessment of potential environmental effects; provision of scientific background; and when specific risks are identified, recommendations for risk management.

As part of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission efforts to address concerns for aquaculture in the Great Lakes basin, a roundtable discussion of water quality impacts of Great Lakes aquaculture was held on January 27-28, 1999 in collaboration with the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission.

The primary objectives of this roundtable were to:

Secondary objectives were to:

This report summarizes the discussions of the roundtable, presents extended abstracts of talks presented at the roundtable, and provides management advice relative to the roundtable objectives.