Ocean conditions, including water temperature, salinity and currents can have a profound effect on the management of our marine sites and the ocean ecosystem. Warmer water temperatures and increases in salinity favour the propagation of sea lice. Deep-water currents can bring to the surface water low in dissolved oxygen, distressing marine life. Water temperatures and currents can create conditions that produce plankton blooms.
Seasonal changes in ocean conditions can be anticipated and prepared for. Lower temperatures and heavy rains of a typical coastal winter tend to produce conditions ideal for farming fish. Summer conditions tend to favour the presence and growth of organisms that pose problems for our farmed fish. By monitoring ocean conditions near our fish farms we can detect changes and prepare to mitigate impacts as they arise. Combining two decades of local observations of the ocean ecosystem with the results of regular monitoring has proven to be an effective management tool.
The information we are collecting on ocean conditions may also prove helpful in improving our understanding of the potential for global climate change to impact the marine environment and our farms. Some climate models have predicted warmer weather and lower rainfall in coastal regions as climate change takes hold. If this happens, we can expect to see changes in the marine ecosystem as a result of warmer water, higher salinity and other conditions. If the climate is changing, fish farming practices will also have to change to reflect an altered environment.