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Zebra Mussel Farming in the Szczecin (Oder) Lagoon: Water-Quality Objectives and Cost-Effectiveness

Gerald Schernewski, Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research
Nardine Stybel, EUCC - The Coastal Union Germany
Thomas Neumann, Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04644-170204

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Abstract

The Oder (Szczecin) Lagoon in the southern Baltic Sea is a heavily eutrophicated and degraded coastal ecosystem. We applied a systems approach framework to critically evaluate whether existing water-management measures achieve water-quality objectives for the river and lagoon systems. Our simulations reveal that the existing water-quality objectives for the river and the coastal waters are not sufficiently complementary. We suggest new water-quality threshold concentrations, which are in agreement with the European Water Framework Directive, and we calculate acceptable maximum nutrient loads for the Oder River. These calculations suggest that external nutrient-load reductions in the river basin alone seem insufficient to achieve good water quality in the lagoon. A comprehensive eutrophication management approach should also include internal nutrient-retention and nutrient-removal measures in the lagoon. We focus on mussel farming, i.e., that of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, because they are efficient in removing nutrients and improving water transparency in the Oder Lagoon. For this purpose, the ecosystem model ERGOM is extended by a mussel module and an economic model. The economic model describes costs and benefits of mussel cultivation depending on the the farm size. We included additional potential sources of income such as water-quality tax or emission certificates. The simulations show that mussel farming in the lagoon is a suitable supportive measure and, at a load-reduction target of 50% or more, it is a cost-efficient measure for removing nutrients and for implementing the Baltic Sea Action Plan. In the Oder Lagoon, mussel farming could potentially remove nearly 1000 t of N (70 t of P)/year, or about 2% of the present N and P loads, and it would have the additional benefit of improving water transparency.

Key words

Baltic Sea Action Plan; coastal ecosystem; cost-benefit analysis; ERGOM; eutrophication; marginal costs; mussel farming; nitrogen; Oder Lagoon; Oder River; phosphorus; Szczecin Lagoon; Water Framework Directive; water management; water quality; zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087