Oyster culture has benefited traditional coastal communities along the Amazon macrotidal mangrove coast of Pará state in Brazil since 2006. Currently, seven oyster culture units in five municipalities are expanding production, but with no environmental monitoring, which is important for the control of the impacts of oyster culture on waters as well as for oyster management and conservation. Seasonal variation in environmental characteristics of the water was evaluated at all oyster culture units in Pará, from September to November 2013 (dry season) and February to April 2014 (wet season), to generate baseline data to evaluate future impacts and aid strategic planning, such as diversifying seed production. Salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, oxidation-reduction potential, depth, temperature, and chlorophyll-a concentration were measured during flooding and ebbing tides, and compared between seasons and among culture units using uni- and multivariate statistics. All variables were significantly higher in the dry season, except depth, which was significantly greater in the wet season. Mean salinity, which varied from 2.4 to 46, explained most of the variation among culture units in relation to season, sampling date within each season and tidal state. However, dissolved oxygen, pH and depth were also important. Oyster culture units in Pará may be suitable for sustainable harvesting of seed/spat from the wild (lower salinity and pH), or for on-growing (higher salinity, higher pH, and greater depth). Seasonal variation is sufficient to allow both activities at most units at appropriate times of the year, which would help increase oyster production in Pará.
tropical mariculture; Crassostrea; salinity; water quality