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ICES Journal of Marine Science (2011), 68(4), 773 780. doi:10.


Aquaculture site selection for Japanese kelp (Laminaria japonica)

in southern Hokkaido, Japan, using satellite remote sensing and
GIS-based models
I Nyoman Radiarta 1,2*, Sei-Ichi Saitoh 1, and Hajime Yasui 3
Laboratory of Marine Bioresource and Environment Sensing, Faculty of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1 Minato-cho, Hakodate,
Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan
Center for Aquaculture Research and Development, Agency for Marine Affair and Fisheries Research and Development, Jl. Ragunan 20, Pasar
Minggu Jakarta Selatan 12540, Indonesia
Laboratory of Science and Technology on Fisheries Infrastructure System, Faculty of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1 Minato-cho,
Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan
*Corresponding Author: tel: +81 138 40 8843; fax: +81 138 40 8844; e-mail:;
Radiarta, I N., Saitoh, S-I., and Yasui, H. 2011. Aquaculture site selection for Japanese kelp (Laminaria japonica) in southern Hokkaido, Japan,
using satellite remote sensing and GIS-based models. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 68: 773 780.
Received 16 February 2010; accepted 19 July 2010; advance access publication 17 November 2010.

Japanese kelp (Laminaria japonica) is an important species cultured and harvested in Japan. The most suitable areas for hanging
culture in southern Hokkaido were determined using geographic information system (GIS) models and a multicriteria evaluation
approach. Analyses of physical parameters (sea surface temperature and suspended solid from SeaWiFS and MODIS) and available
bathymetric data indicated that some 74% (1139 km2) of the total potential area with bottom depths ,60 m had the two
highest suitability scores. A local sensitivity analysis indicated that suspended solids were more important than temperature in affect-
ing model output. This study demonstrates that GIS databases of different formats and sources can be used effectively to construct
spatial models for kelp aquaculture.
Keywords: aquaculture site selection, GIS, Hokkaido, kelp, Laminaria japonica, remote sensing.

Introduction select environmentally suitable areas rapidly and systematically.

More than 50 species of kelp have been reported worldwide, of which GIS has been widely used in aquaculture development, including
20 are present in the Asia-Pacific region (Scoggan et al., 1989). site suitability determination, zoning, environmental impacts, plan-
Japanese kelp [Laminaria japonica (Ma-kombu)] grows in the tem- ning, inventory and monitoring of aquaculture and the environ-
perate, cold-water zone and is native to the northwest Pacific coast, ment, and competitive exploitation of common areas (Arnold
occurring as far south as 368N (Scoggan et al., 1989). Globally, it is et al., 2000; Bacher et al., 2003; Perez et al., 2005; Corner et al.,
one of the most valuable cultured and harvested seaweed species 2006; Longdill et al., 2008; Radiarta et al., 2008). Many studies
(Critchley, 1993). Landings have increased consistently during the have been done on aquaculture site selection (Arnold et al., 2000;
past 17 years, from 2.5 106 t in the 1990s to more than 4.5 Perez et al., 2003; Radiarta et al., 2008), but few have used satellite
106 t in 2007 (FAO, 2009). China leads in Japanese kelp production, ocean-colour data to investigate site suitability for kelp aquaculture.
followed by Japan and Korea. In Japan, this species is mainly found This paper presents a quantitative evaluation of coastal areas using
along Hokkaido Island and the northeast coast of Honshu. GIS-based physical models to identify suitable sites for Japanese
Traditionally, kelps were harvested from wild stocks, but these are kelp aquaculture development in southern Hokkaido, Japan.
declining because of overharvesting. Recent advances in marine aqua-
culture techniques have contributed significantly to kelp production. Material and methods
Currently, more than 36% of Japanese kelp production in Japan is Study area
from aquaculture (FAO, 2009), mainly in Hokkaido. The study area includes a 368-km coastline from Muroran to
The location and amount of aquaculture activity must balance Kikonai, Hokkaido, between 41840 and 42835 N and 140815
the needs of conservation and economic return in a sustainable and 141815 E (Figure 1). The oceanography of the region is
manner (GESAMP, 2001). Final determination of site suitability affected by the inflow of two water masses: Tsuguru warm water
involves careful consideration of social, economic, and environ- from autumn to winter, and Oyashio water (a Subarctic oceanic
ment factors. Environmental suitability forms the basis for plan- water mass) from spring to summer (Ohtani, 1971; Ohtani and
ning exercises and management interventions. Kido, 1980; Takahashi et al., 2004). Sea surface temperatures
With the development of the geographic information system (SSTs) range from ,58C in March to .208C in August/
(GIS) and availability of remote sensing data, it is now possible to September, and salinity is relatively stable, with values ranging

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774 I N. Radiarta et al.

Figure 1. Location of the study area in southern Hokkaido, Japan, including major depth contours and place names.

Table 1. Parameter requirements for Japanese kelp aquaculture development in the southern part of Hokkaido Island, Japan.
Parameters Interpretation parameter Optimum Reference
Sea surface temperature Favourable temperature for kelp culture 9 128C Scoggan et al. (1989), Fang et al. (1996), Suzuki et al. (2008)
Suspended solids Indicates level of water clarity (turbidity) ,2 g m 3 Otero and Siegel (2004), Nezline et al. (2005)
Bathymetry Favourable depth for hanging culture 10 30 m Scoggan et al. (1989), Kawashima (1993), Fang et al. (1996)
Slope Favourable slope for hanging culture ,108 Bushing (1995), Bekkby et al. (2009)

from 31 to 34 psu (Shimada et al., 2000). Levels of chlorophyll a Administration (DAAC/GSFC/NASA; Savtchenko et al., 2004).
are very high (.3 mg m23) during the spring bloom in March, In all, 287 images with good coverage were collected from June
but relatively low (,1 mg m23) during summer (Radiarta and 2002 to August 2004.
Saitoh, 2008). These unique characteristics provide a favourable Suspended solid (SS) concentrations were determined from
environment, making the region one of the most important culti- remotely sensed, normalized, water-leaving radiance at 555 nauti-
vation areas in Hokkaido for scallops (Mizuhopecten yessoensis) cal mile wavelength, nLw(555). Daily level-2 SeaWiFS data with
and kelp. 1-km resolution (February 1998 to August 2004) were obtained
from DAAC/GSFC/NASA (Acker et al., 2002). The nLw (555)
Identication of parameters and spatial database values were extracted from the daily SeaWiFS data. Monthly
acquisition average (g m23) images of nLw (555) were produced following
The main factors (Table 1) used in this study are described below. Ahns equation (Ahn et al., 2001): SS 3.18nLw(555)0.95.
SSTs were derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging All SST and SS images from all seasons were combined to gen-
Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Aqua sensor as level-2 data, with erate composite maps of average values for each parameter (Perez
1-km resolution, from the Distribution Active Archive Centre/ et al., 2003). These images were then reclassified according to suit-
Goddard Space Flight Centre/National Aeronautic and Space ability scores. A bathymetric map was prepared by combining a
Aquaculture site selection using remote sensing and GIS 775

scanned hydrographic chart (Japan Hydrographic Department Analytical framework and model construction
1:150 000) and a digitized map of 500-m gridded bathymetric Suitability levels (scores) for each parameter were defined accord-
points (Japan Oceanographic Data Center, JODC, http://jdoss1 ing to requirements for kelp aquaculture using the hanging tech- A digital terrain model nique (Table 2). Parameter values were ranked and classified
(DTM) was used (triangulated irregular network; Hutchinson from 1 (least suitable) to 8 (most suitable) following Radiarta
and Gallant, 2000) to create the final contour map (either as et al. (2008). Parameter weights were determined by pairwise com-
raster or vector data) for classification according to the suitability parisons according to the Analytical Hierarchy Process of Saaty
criteria. (1977) for decision-making. Their relative importance was
Suitable water depth for Japanese kelp aquaculture depends on obtained through a literature review and experts opinions
the length of kelp ropes used and the hanging-raft culture methods (Table 3). Relative parameter importance was evaluated on a nine-
employed. In general, the sites should be selected where the point, continuous-rating scale from 1 (least important) to 9 (most
minimum water depth is 15 25 m. In this analysis, to minimize important). The principal eigenvector of the pairwise comparison
operation costs and difficulty in mooring systems, water depths matrix was computed to produce the best fit for a total weighting
.60 m were excluded, resulting in a potential area of of 1. In addition, the consistency ratio of the matrix was also cal-
1541 km2. The slope of the bottom (degrees) was obtained culated. This value indicates the probability that ratings were ran-
from the DTM of the bathymetry image using the ArcGIS 9.2 domly assigned. A consistency ratio of 0.10 or less was considered
slope function that calculates the maximum rate change between to be acceptable (Saaty, 1977; Banai-Kashani, 1989). Once the
each cell and its neighbours. scores and weights of the spatial data had been determined, a mul-
All spatial data were registered to the study areas coastline, ticriteria evaluation procedure (weighted linear combination)
obtained from the International Steering Committee for Global available in the ArcGIS model builder function was applied.
Mapping ( All
data used in the GIS models were built on a WGS 84 UTM
Zone 54 North coordinate system. Data on the above parameters Sensitivity analysis
prepared for input to the GIS database were built based on a A sensitivity analysis was done to examine how the weighting of
10 m 10 m pixel size (Perez et al., 2005; Radiarta et al., 2008). time-variable parameters could affect the determination of

Table 2. Physical factor requirements and suitability scores for Japanese kelp aquaculture-site selection in southern Hokkaido, Japan.
Suitability rating and score

Parameter 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Sea surface 1011 9 10 or 11 12 8 9 or 1213 7 8 or 13 14 6 7 or 1415 5 6 or 15 16 4 5 or 1617 ,4 or .17
temperature (8C)
Bathymetry (m) 1025 9 10 or 25 30 8 9 or 3035 7 8 or 35 40 6 7 or 4045 5 6 or 45 50 4 5 or 5060 .60 or ,4
Suspended solids ,1.6 1.6 2.0 2.02.3 2.3 2.6 2.62.9 2.9 3.5 3.54.0 .4.0
(g m 3)
Slope (8) ,5 5 10 1015 15 18 1820 20 23 23 25 .25

Table 3. Pairwise comparison matrix for assessing the relative importance of parameters for Japanese kelp aquaculture development in the
southern part of Hokkaido Island, Japan (numbers indicate the rating of row relative to column factors).
Parameter Sea surface temperature Suspended solids Bathymetry Slope Weight
Sea surface temperature 1 2 3 4 0.46
Suspended solids 1/2 1 2 3 0.28
Bathymetry 1/3 1/2 1 2 0.16
Slope 1/4 1/3 1/2 1 0.10
Consistency ratio (CR) 0.015, consistency is acceptable.

Table 4. Area (km2) and percentage of total area (%) with different suitability scores for Japanese kelp aquaculture development in the
southern part of Hokkaido Island, Japan, with depths ,60 m.
Suitability score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Physical model of site
selection km2 % km2 % km2 % km2 % km2 % km2 % km2 % km2 %
Sea surface temperature 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0 0.2 16.0 1.0 278.0 18.0 98.0 6.5 402.0 26.0 744.0 43.8
Suspended solids 25.0 2.0 29.0 2.0 56.0 4.0 43.0 3.0 46.0 3.0 79.0 5.0 223.0 14.0 1 040.0 67.0
Bathymetry 45.0 3.0 391.0 25.0 182.0 12.0 170.0 11.0 145.0 10.0 134.0 9.0 129.0 8.0 345.0 22.0
Slope 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.1 10.5 0.9 1 530.0 99.0
Overall model 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.1 14.0 0.9 64.0 4.0 323.0 21.0 847.0 55.0 292.0 19.0
776 I N. Radiarta et al.

preferred areas. Bathymetry and slope were assumed to be tem- variability of the suitability model output. The analysis was con-
porally constant and excluded. ducted by varying each parameter by +5, +10, and +20% of
Many methods for sensitivity analysis have been used for the reference values, but leaving all others constant. Suitability
model evaluations (Hamby, 1994; Delgado and Sendra, 2004). maps for every interval value were generated and the change
This study used a local sensitivity analysis, because it provides in area for each suitability score and every weighting scheme
the most information about parameters influencing the determined.

Figure 2. Suitability maps for environmental criteria used in physical modelling, masked to exclude depths .60 m, for Japanese kelp
aquaculture: (a) SST, (b) SSs, (c) bathymetry, and (d) slope.
Aquaculture site selection using remote sensing and GIS 777

Figure 3. Overall site selection map for combined environmental criteria, depths ,60 m, for Japanese kelp aquaculture development in
southern Hokkaido, Japan.

Spatial distribution of suitability Table 5. Results of local sensitivity analysis, illustrating the change
in suitability areas (km2) as SSTs and SSs are varied by +5, +10,
The classifications of surface areas for each parameter are summar- and +20% from the baseline model.
ized in Table 4, and the corresponding spatial distributions of suit-
ability sites are illustrated in Figures 2 and 3. Parameter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Based on SST, 43.8% of the potential area scored 8 (Table 4). Baseline model 0 0 1 14 64 323 847 292
These areas were mostly located in the west (Figure 2a). Regarding Sea surface temperature
SS, 67 and 14% of the area had scores of 8 and 7, respectively. +20 0 0 1 11 50 369 779 331
Only 8% of the area had low scores (sum of scores 1, 2, and +10 0 0 1 11 60 363 797 309
+5 0 0 1 11 56 323 822 328
3). These areas were mostly located along the coastline near the
25 0 0 1 13 65 323 918 221
Yuurap River in the Yakumo region (Figure 2b). Based on water
210 0 0 1 15 68 285 880 292
depth, some 22% of the potential area scored 8 (Table 4 and 220 0 0 1 26 70 470 774 200
Figure 2c). For slope characteristics, most of the potential area Suspended solids
had high suitability scores of 8 (99%) and 7 (0.9%; Figure 2d). +20 0 0 1 32 73 269 894 272
For all parameters combined, the model predicted that 19% +10 0 0 1 16 79 292 861 292
(292 km2) of the potential area had a score of 8 (Table 4). +5 0 0 1 13 74 318 843 292
Figure 3 clearly highlights the suitability of the western and 25 0 0 1 11 114 495 681 239
southern part of the study area, because of the high quality of 210 0 0 1 11 99 502 689 239
water properties, appropriate water depths, and slope 220 0 0 1 9 140 518 570 303
778 I N. Radiarta et al.

Figure 4. Results of sensitivity analysis illustrating differences in area (km2) between each sensitivity factor and the baseline model for each of
the suitability scores.

characteristics. Approximately 55% of the potential area scored 7,

26% scored mid-scale (4 6), and ,1% scored 3. No area scored
either 1 or 2 in suitability.

Sensitivity analysis
Changes from the baseline model for each of the variables in
square kilometres for each suitability score are given in Table 5
and Figure 4. SS affected the overall model more strongly than
SST. The model was more sensitive to lower than higher values
of SS and SST.

Development of kelp aquaculture is affected by many aspects,
including environmental (physical, biological, and chemical), as
well as socio-economic factors (Scoggan et al., 1989; Largo and
Ohno, 1993; Kingzet et al., 2002). The site-selection model used
in this study only focused on the important physical parameters Figure 5. Kelp landings for southern Hokkaido, Japan, 1991 2006.
of SST, SS, bathymetry, and slope. Combining these parameters
through GIS provides a more relevant analysis for decision-makers suitable areas were found when parameter weights were varied.
than the one based on individual parameters alone. Not surpris- The model was particularly sensitive to SS, but also to SST.
ingly, areas with the greatest potential for kelp culture are those Remote-sensing data have been used in aquaculture site selec-
where favourable parameter scores coincide. tion for more than 20 years (Kapetsky et al., 1987; Kapetsky and
The results of the GIS model could be only partly verified using Anguilar-Manjarrez, 2007). Their analysis with modern GIS tech-
kelp landing production (Hokkaido Central Fisheries Experiment niques could result in an efficient and cost-effective management
Station, 2009). Figures 3 and 5 demonstrate that scores tend to tool. There is great potential for remotely sensed, ocean-colour
reflect kelp production. For example, the highest production was data in marine aquaculture development (Grant et al., 2009);
in the high-scoring Minamikayabe area, whereas the least pro- however, there are also limitations and potential inaccuracies.
ductive Kikonai area had low scores. However, this relationship For example, the algorithm for SS in the current model was devel-
is complex, because kelp production inside Funka Bay is generally oped for Korean waters (Ahn et al., 2001). An algorithm based on
smaller because of the prevalence of scallop aquaculture there, local Hokkaido water characteristics could provide more accurate
rather than lack of suitable kelp areas (Miyazono, 2006). model output and it should be developed for future assessments.
Weighting is one of the primary challenges in site-selection Environmental characteristics in the study region vary temporally,
analyses using multicriteria evaluation procedures. To the extent as well as spatially. Because temporal variability could influence
possible, weightings should be consistent with decision-maker kelp growth (Radiarta et al., 2008), the model could be improved
preferences (Butler et al., 1997). Once weights have been assigned, further by including monthly (Eastwood et al., 2001) or seasonal
a sensitivity analysis should be conducted to determine their influ- (Vincenzi et al., 2006) variability of parameters. Further progress
ence on the overall results. In this study, significant changes in in GIS and remote-sensing technology should contribute to the
Aquaculture site selection using remote sensing and GIS 779

development of a generic evaluation framework for coastal plan- Environmental Protection). 2001. Planning and management for
ners and policy-makers interested in sustainable aquaculture. sustainable coastal aquaculture development. FAO GESAMP
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