Health and environmental interactions of two clam species, the soft shell clam (Mya arenaria) and quahaug (Mercenaria mercenaria), in the Bay of Fundy

MG-05-01-006

Description

The shellfish aquaculture industry has grown significantly over the years, mostly with the culture of the blue mussel and the Eastern oyster, and has become an important part of the economy in eastern Canada. Nevertheless, research and development of alternate species for diversification of aquaculture activities increased dramatically during the last decade. Clam species such as the soft shell clam (Mya arenaria), the quahaug (Mercenaria mercenaria) and the bar clam (Spisula solidissima) have been particularly targeted because of their high market value. The culture techniques for these species are fairly well known and, in some cases, have been modified and adapted for the specific environmental conditions of our region. However, culture of these species has not attained a level of sustainability due to such issues such as slow growth and erratic mortalities often attributed to limiting environmental factors and experimental husbandry techniques. Endemic diseases may also be a limiting factor with diseases such as haemic neoplasia associated with mortalities in soft-shell clams in NB and PEI, and Quahaug Parasite 'X' (QPX) associated with mortalities in quahaug. A profile of diseases that could severely effect the development of the clam culture industry in the Bay of Fundy is required. Another important aspect for sustainability is having access to diverse markets to maintain competitiveness. Canada is currently reviewing the European Union requirements for the exportation of live products for human consumption and the screening of non-carrier species for OIE 'Organisation International des Épizooties' listed diseases, such as MSX and SSO, found in Atlantic Canada is projected to be a requirement.

The goal of this research project will be to evaluate and monitor the health condition of two clam species, the soft shell clam (Mya arenaria) and quahaug (Mercenaria mercenaria), in the Bay of Fundy with the following objectives:

  • Update status of endemic diseases such as haemic neoplasia in soft-shell clams and QPX in quahogs
  • Screening of non-carrier species for OIE listed diseases, such as MSX and SSO, found in Atlantic Canada
  • Evaluate the prevalence of shellfish diseases in relation to population dynamics and environmental parameters.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)

Year(s)

2005 - 2007

Ecoregion(s)

Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Marc Ouellette
Email: Marc.Ouellette@dfo-mpo.gc.ca