Aquaculture monitoring standard
Aquaculture Monitoring Standard (PDF 226 KB)
This Aquaculture Monitoring Standard (Monitoring Standard) is intended to support the monitoring and sampling requirements of the Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) under the Fisheries Act. This document provides the necessary level of detail to enable the owner or operator of an aquaculture facility to produce to the greatest extent possible, consistent and high quality data to support the implementation of the AAR.
This Monitoring Standard will be amended (in consultation with provinces) from time to time.
This Monitoring Standard is available on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) website.
- “Containment array”
- means an assembly of interconnected cages used to cultivate fish.
- “High slack tide”
- means the point in time in any given location where the water depth has reached its maximum height and any water movement has ceased, up until the current reverses direction.
- “Reference station”
- means a sampling station chosen to represent background or natural environmental conditions in a given area.
- “Sampling station”
- means the location where recording is carried out and any samples are collected.
- means a directional line, along which sampling stations are established.
I. Survey for Baseline Information [AAR section 8]
Predicted Contours [AAR paragraph 8(1)(a)]
- 1. (1) Calculate the rate of deposition of biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter from the facility during maximum daily quantity of feed usage, using an aquaculture waste deposition model, and map the 1, 5, and 10 g C/m2/day depositional contours.
- (2) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in or adjacent to tidal waters in British Columbia, subsection 1(1) applies, and the calculated rate of deposition must be to a minimum of 125 m from the edges of the cages or containment array.
Survey of Fish and Fish Habitat [AAR paragraph 8(1)(b)]
- 2. (1) Conduct fish and fish habitat benthic surveys by diver and/or remote imaging within the 1 g C/m2/day area as calculated in subsection 1(1).
- (2) In addition to (1), in the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to British Columbia, conduct fish and fish habitat benthic surveys in the manner provided in subsection (1) to a minimum of 125 m from the edges of the containment array in the direction of the dominant current.
- (3) The fish and fish habitat benthic survey is to be conducted using a grid approach, which will identify species that are 1 cm or greater in length and the type of habitat present.
- (4) The depth must be recorded by holding a depth gauge up to the camera or through the Global Positioning System (GPS) function of the camera.
Bathymetry Survey [AAR paragraph 8(1)(c)]
- 3. (1) The bathymetric survey must be conducted with a minimum resolution of 10 m contours to generate depth profiles within the 1 g C/m2/day depositional contour, as calculated in subsection 1(1)
- (2) In addition to subsection (1), in the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to British Columbia, conduct the bathymetric survey in the manner provided in subsection (1) to a minimum of 125 m from the edges of the containment array.
- (3) Despite subsection 3(1), bathymetric maps from the Canadian Hydrographic Service that represent the 1 g C/m2/day depositional contour, as calculated in subsection 1(1), may be used instead of conducting a bathymetric survey.
- (4) Echosounders, transducers, and associated equipment used to generate the bathymetric survey in subsection 3(1) must be capable of industry-standard calibrations, including:
- (a) bar check calibration for echosounders;
- (b) procedures to account for the following sources of errors:
(c) horizontal position fixing measurements must be carried out using a differential Global Positioning System (dGPS).
- static draft setting;
- dynamic draft, including settlement and squat;
- speed of sound changes;
- instrumental errors;
- roll, pitch and heave;
- navigation timing;
- water level readings or GPS heights; and
- tide or separation models.
Composition of the Seabed and Corroborative Measurements [AAR paragraph 8(1)(d)]
- 4. (1) The following information concerning the seabed within the 1 g C/m2/day depositional contour, as calculated in subsection 1(1), must be collected:
- latitude/longitude using dGPS;
- date and time of sampling;
- sediment texture and colour;
- presence of gas bubbles;
- estimation of surface coverage of bacterial mats;
- presence of marine worms;
- presence of fish feces and feed;
- presence of flocculent organic material;
- free sulfide concentration measurements
- redox and pH measurements on all samples for which free sulfide concentrations are measured in paragraph (j), in the following manner:
- use a redox combination electrode with an appropriate ion-selective electrode (ISE) or mV meter;
- calibration of the probe must be completed before measurements are taken; and
- measure the redox value, pH, and temperature at the same time as the free sulfide.
- total volatile solids (TVS) measurements on all samples for which free sulfide concentrations are measured in paragraph (j), using the standard gravimetric method of determining the mass of total volatile solids within the subsample, as follows:
- heat the subsample at 103 to 105 °C until dry, and then heat at 550 °C for 30 minutes;
- weigh the subsample prior to analysis, after the drying step is completed, and after processing at 550 °C; and
- measure the total volatile solids for each sample.
- sediment grain size distribution measurements on all samples for which free sulfide concentrations are measured in paragraph (j) by recording the mass of each size class according to Wentworth grain size scale as a percentage of the total subsample mass.
- (2) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to British Columbia, subsection (1) applies, and this information will be collected 30 m and 125 m from the edge of the containment array and at the established references stations.
Establishing Reference Stations [AAR subsections 8(1) and (3)]
- 5. (1) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located tidal waters in or adjacent to British Columbia, two reference stations must be established in a manner compliant with subsection (2).
- (2) The following criteria must be used when establishing a reference station:
- (a) the location is not exposed to BOD matter deposit from the facility or from adjacent facilities as indicated by predictive modelling, historical data, and / or sampling results;
- (b) the depth is within +/- 10 m of the range of depths of the sampling stations; and
- (c) topography, seabed type, current and tidal regimes, exogenous influences, sediment grain size, and the amount of freshwater runoff influence are to be representative of the sampling stations.
Recording of Baseline Survey Information [AAR subsections 8(1) and (3), and 9(1)]
- 6. The report of the baseline survey findings must include at a minimum:
- the observations recorded from the underwater survey(s), including the unedited recorded images;
- a map with the locations of transects and habitat information generated during these transects at an appropriate resolution (i.e., 1:5000 or finer), the bathymetry of the seabed at a resolution of 10 m contours; and the estimated footprint of deposition of BOD matter in 1, 5, and 10 g C/m2/day contours;
- the results of sediment sampling for each sampling location;
II. Procedures for Monitoring Sediment Free Sulfide [AAR section 10(1)]
Timing of Sampling [AAR paragraphs 10(1)(a) and (b)]
- 7. Samples must be taken at the facility during:
- water and weather conditions that minimize adverse effects on sampling quality and facilitate accurate sampling at stations; and
- 30 days prior to or after the predicted maximum daily quantity of feed usage at least once during the production cycle at sea or every 24 months for farms with finfish continuously on site.
Establishing Sampling Stations [AAR paragraphs 10(1)(a) and (b)]
- 8. The following procedures must be complied with when establishing sampling stations:
- in the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Newfoundland, a minimum of two sample stations must be established, one at each edge of either side of the containment array in the direction of the dominant current;
- in the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to British Columbia, sample stations must be established 30 m and 125 m from either side of the containment array in the direction of the dominant current; and
- if the containment array in paragraph (b) is greater than 200 m in length and is perpendicular to the direction of the dominant current, additional sampling is required in the following manner:
- (i) two transects for every 200 m increment;
- (ii) the transects must be a minimum of 50 m apart;
- (iii) the transects shall be based on modelling results as per subsection 1(1) and:
- (A) if the 5 g C/m2/day contour extends beyond 30 m from the containment array on the shoreward end of the array, the transects shall be located such that they transit the contour at its furthest extent; and
- (B) if the 5 g C/m2/day contour does not extend beyond 30 m from the containment array on the shoreward end, the transects shall be located on the seaward end of the array.
Sediment Sampling Procedures [AAR paragraphs 10(1)(a) and (b)]
- 9. The following procedures must be complied with for sediment sampling:
- (a) grab or core samplers must be used to collect sediment samples and the device must prevent leakage of water and sediment during retrieval, permit observation of visual parameters in the undisturbed sample, permit subsampling within the device, and allow the collection of a minimum sample volume of 15 ml;
- (b) at least three separate attempts are to be made to collect sediment samples;
- (c) obtain dGPS coordinates at each corner of the containment structure array at high slack tide and at all sampling stations and readings are to be recorded in decimal degrees or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates, using the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83) as reference;
- (d) the sample is acceptable for analysis if the following parameters are met:
- overlying water is present, indicating minimal leakage;
- overlying water is clear or not excessively turbid, indicating minimal sample disturbance;
- sediment surface is relatively flat, with minimal sample disturbance or washing;
- a minimum depth of penetration of 5 cm has been achieved; and
- there is no evidence of sediment loss.
- (e) take at least three replicate samples from each station established.
- (f) take precautions to minimize the possibility that successive samples are obtained from substrate that has been disturbed by sampling.
- (g) dispose of excess sediment in a manner that minimizes the possibility of contaminating subsequent samples.
- (h) collect at least one subsample from the top 2 cm of sediment within the sampler, either by using a modified syringe to withdraw multiple plugs of sediment to make up the necessary volume for analyses, or by skimming the required material from the surface of the sample; and
- (i) remove all non-sedimentary material, including all large shell fragments, fish, wood waste, and rock, before placing material in containers for analyses.
Measurement of free sulfide (S) [AAR paragraphs 10(1)(a) and (b)]
- 10. (1) Determine the free sulfide concentration from the samples collected in section 9 within 36 hours
- (2) If the free sulfide measurements are not carried out within 5 minutes of the sample being collected, subsamples must be stored at 3 +/- 2 °C until they are analyzed.
- (3) Use a silver/sulfide probe with a sulfide sensitivity range of at least 0.000 to 19,900 μM and a relative accuracy of +/- 5 % with an appropriate (ISE) or mV meter of 0.1 mV resolution.
- (4) Calibrate the probe using serial dilutions of a standard sulfide solution at concentrations of 0.0001 moles/L and 0.001 moles/L beginning with the most dilute solution first and a minimum of two points is needed to make a calibration curve.
III. Visual Recording Procedures [AAR section 11]
Manner [AAR paragraph 11(2)(a)]
- 11. Visual monitoring of the benthic substrate will be conducted in the following manner:
- (a) must use a handheld or dropped still camera, or diver-operated, towed, or remotely operated video camera;
- (b) choose a recording device that is appropriate to the site-specific conditions;
- (c) cameras used for underwater photography must illuminate the benthic substrate to an intensity balanced to the optical sensitivity of the lens such that a uniform field of view is visible.
- (d) the optical resolution of the camera lens must be sufficient that organisms greater than 1 cm in size can be distinguished by the unaided eye and identified in a 0.5 m horizontal field of view; magnification of species observed is acceptable, as necessary, for identification purposes.
- (e) diver-operated, towed, or remotely operated video cameras must be operated at a constant velocity that permits accurate identification of visual parameters.
- (f) original video must be transferable to digital format storage media (i.e., no post-survey video compression); and
- (g) record and include with the visual recordings submitted the following:
- (i) positional information including all start and stop points and way points in between using corrected dGPS;
- (ii) ocean depth of the location recorded; and for continuous video depths at a minimum of 10 m intervals;
- (iii) date and time of sampling;
- (iv) estimation of surface coverage of bacterial mats; and
- (v) estimation of surface coverage of marine worms.
Times [AAR paragraph 11(2)(a)]
- 12. Conduct visual monitoring at the times specified in section 7.
Locations [AAR paragraph 11(2)(a)]
- 13. (1) Video sampling must be located within the 1 g C/m2/day area, as calculated in subsection 1(1).
- (2) A dGPS must be used at the start and finish of each transect. The readings must be recorded in decimal degrees or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates, using the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83) as reference.
- (3) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to Nova Scotia, video must be recorded at each sampling station, and must include the following:
- (a) a 360º panorama of the water surface view plane prior to submersion;
- (b) continuous footage of the descent, impact with the seafloor, camera ascent, and retrieval; and
- (c) a minimum of 2 minutes of seafloor footage, covering a minimum area of 5 m2.
- (4) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to New Brunswick, video must be recorded along a transect, starting 50 m from the edge of the containment array and end at the edge of the containment array.
- (5) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to British Columbia, video must be recorded along a transect and start at the edge of the containment array and extend for 140 m in the direction of the dominant current, with a maximum deviation from bearing of +/- 20%.
- (6) In the case of an aquaculture facility that is located in tidal waters in or adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador, video must be recorded along two transects, perpendicular to each other, starting from each corner of the containment array and extending away from the array for 100 m and additional transects must be recorded from the middle of each side of an array that consists of more than 9 cages in a row.
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