The use of pearl oysters has recently been proposed as an environmental remediation tool in coastal ecosystems. This study quantified the nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metal content of the tissue and shell of pearl oysters harvested from a small pearl oyster farm at Port Stephens, Australia. Each tonne of pearl oyster material harvested resulted in approximately 703 g metals, 7452 g nitrogen, and 545 g phosphorus being removed from the waters of Port Stephens. Increasing current farm production of 9.8 t yr(-1) to 499 t yr(-1) would balance current nitrogen loads entering Port Stephens from a small Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) located on its southern shores. Furthermore, manipulation of harvest dates to coincide with oyster condition would likely remove substantially greater quantities of nutrients. This study demonstrates that pearl aquaculture may be used to assist in the removal of pollutants from coastal waters while producing a commercially profitable commodity. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Marine Pollution Bulletin Vol. 50, no. 4, p. 417-422