Multiscale modelling of cage effects on the transport of effluents from open aquaculture systems
Most Atlantic salmon mariculture operations use open sea cages for the grow out phase. The ultimate fate and effects of the effluents and the possibilities of disease transfer between fish farms are major concerns for farmers, governance and the general public alike. Numerical model systems applied to studying and managing effluents and disease transfer in mariculture must realistically resolve the hydrodynamics in the vicinity of the fish farms. In the present study, the effects of the aquaculture structures on the current patterns were introduced in the ocean model system SINMOD. The drag parameters for the ocean model were determined by comparing the simulation results from the ANSYS Fluent ® software suite and SINMOD in an idealized channel setting with uniform currents. The model was run for a number of realistic scenarios in high horizontal resolution (∼30 m) with sea cages influencing the flow field. Comparisons between extensive current measurements and the simulation results showed that the model system reproduced the current local current field well. By running simulation scenarios with and without the effects of the sea cages on the flow field, it was possible to assess the importance of such effects for numerical dispersal models and aquaculture environment interactions simulations and hence for assessment of environmental impacts.