Development and Validation of an In Situ Fish Preference-Avoidance Technique for Environmental Monitoring of Pulp Mill Effluents

    Published: Jan 1983

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    A novel in situ technique for studying the vertical preference-avoidance behavior of fish exposed to industrial pollutants was field tested in a three-year program to monitor the effects of sulfite mill effluent (SME) in a remote West Coast fjord. A number of parameters related to the operation of the preference-avoidance cages were investigated, including different fish species, response time, reproducibility, and relationship of avoidance behavior to water quality variables. Comparative tests with juvenile stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), herring (Clupea harengus pallasi), and chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) showed that the juvenile salmonids provided the most consistent preference-avoidance response. The response time for determining fish avoidance in the cages was less than 0.5 h. The zone of influence for the SME defined by the preference-avoidance response extended to 10 km down inlet from the mill. Dissolved oxygen and pH were shown statistically to be the most significant (P < 0.05) water quality variables in explaining the vertical distributions observed. Monitoring over a three-year period indicated a reduction in the SME zone of influence coincident with the mill pollution abatement program. It was concluded that the vertical preference-avoidance technique was a sensitive, reliable, and cost-effective monitoring tool.


    aquatic toxicology, fish avoidance behavior, Oncorhynchus, pulp mill effluent, environmental monitoring, marine pollution, hazard assessment

    Author Information:

    McGreer, ER
    Projects director, Ecotoxicology, and president, E.V.S. Consultants Ltd, North Vancouver, B.C.

    Vigers, GA
    Projects director, Ecotoxicology, and president, E.V.S. Consultants Ltd, North Vancouver, B.C.

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.01

    DOI: 10.1520/STP33528S

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