Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Bioaccumulation of metals in suspended cultures of blue mussels in the Limfjord

Suspended mussel cultures can be used as a measure to remove nutrients from the marine environment through harvesting. Mussels are exposed to trace metals in ambient seawater and are able to accumulate high amounts of metals in their tissue. However, the harvested mussels must not be severely contaminated by pollutants posing a potential health risk for the consumers according to the EU directives for animal feed and human consumption. The aim of the study was to estimate the bioaccumulation of cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) in blue mussels (Mytilus edulis L.) from the mitigation cultures based on observations and Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) modelling under different environmental conditions. In the future, water temperatures are predicted to increase and may increase the leakage of metals from the sediment due to more bioturbation.


The metal content in mussels are likely to increase in the future due to higher temperatures and increased leakage from the sediment.

The measured metal contents of Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn in mussels from suspended cultures in the Limfjord were all below the critical thresholds according to the EU directives, OSPAR background levels and the ‘insignificant pollution’ class by the Norwegian Institute SFT. In the future scenarios with elevated water concentrations of metals or/and higher temperatures, the metal content in mussel flesh increased and exceeded in some cases the critical thresholds (Fig. 1). The model can be used to support site selection of new mussel nutrient extraction cultures in the Baltic Sea that suffers from high eutrophication symptoms.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Water Framework Directive
Data availability:

Data used: Model data created and monitoring data collected.

Where it is held: Danish Government (metals) and AU/NERI (model data)

Contact: - Marie Maar (model), Martin M Larsen (metals)

Availability:  Marie Maar, (model), Martin M Larsen, (metals)

Lead Author:

Marie Maar
Aarhus Universitet (NERI)
Date of research: October 2014

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Species richness, abundance in North Atlantic fish

Temperature and distribution of round sardinella 

The drivers of a common sole population 

The effects of trawling on benthic communities 

The endangered limpet Patella ferruginea in an MPA

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.