An assessment of the genetic and health status of the native Basket Cockle in BC for aquaculture operation facilitation

P-10-09-014

Description

The Basket Cockle, Clinocardium nuttallii, occurs on the Pacific coast of North America from San Diego to the Bering Sea, and a reported disjunctive population located in Hokkaido, Japan. It occurs in sandy and muddy shores around the whole coast of British Columbia (BC), and is therefore found in all five current shellfish transfer zones. Currently there is significant commercial interest in the Basket Cockle, due to its relatively fast growth rate, ability to utilize different substrates, adaption to the cold waters of British Columbia and its importance as a preferred First Nations food group. Previous research has supplied information on the broodstock, fertilization, hatchery and initial on-growing stages, which have further emphasized the commercial possibilities for this species. In order for the Basket Cockle to fully realize its commercial potential, it is necessary to optimize hatchery production and enable the mass production of seed for different aquaculture operations. Transfer of shellfish within BC is governed by the Introductions and Transfer Committee (ITC) of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who use science-based recommendations for the approval or rejection of introductions or transfer requests. However, while transfer protocols have been established for other non-native commercial species, none are available for the native Basket Cockle as aquaculture for this species is in its infancy. This study aims to comprehensively assess the genetic and health status of cockle populations throughout BC and to provide the ITC and other interested parties with information relevant to encourage cockle aquaculture in a sustainable and ecologically responsible manner.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)

Year(s)

2010 - 2012

Ecoregion(s)

Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Ruth Withler
Email: Ruth.Withler@dfo-mpo.gc.ca