Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2017

Environmental Interactions

Developing Hard-Bottom Indicators from BC Archived Benthic Video Surveys Associated with Aquaculture Activities

Under the Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR), and previously as a condition of licence, the Pacific aquaculture industry has been required to conduct seafloor monitoring of finfish aquaculture sites. This project is applying a standard analytical approach to a large collection of archived video surveys collected during a seven-year period (2004-2010) and over a wide range of coastal settings (fjordic inlets, Broughton Archipelago, the west coast of Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait, etc.). The measurement of redox and sulphide from sediment samples is an accepted standard practice for soft-bottom seabeds. However, past monitoring practices involving grab sampling for redox and sulfide analyses have presented challenges at aquaculture sites located over hard bottom substrates. Section 10(2) of the AAR allows for visual monitoring instead of sediment grab samples if it is not possible to obtain benthic substrate samples. Results supported the use of primary and secondary indicator species (Beggiatoa spp. and Opportunistic Polychaete Complexes–OPC). Potential additional indicators that may warrant further investigation include Giant Plumose Anenomes as this species is tolerant to organic enrichment and was observed as co-occurring with Beggiatoa-like bacteria and OPCs at some farm sites, as well as taxa that tend to occur at the transition between oxic states could be investigated (e.g., sea urchins, brittle stars, tube dwelling anemones, shrimp, etc.).

Date: SEP. 2011–MAR. 2016

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Terri Sutherland (DFO)

Project Team: Andrea Bartsch, Michelle Ou (DFO)

Collaborators: Bernie Taekema, Kerra Shaw, March Klaver, Jon Chamberlain (DFO)

Contact: Terri.Sutherland@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2011-P-13-eng.html

Sponge and Squat Lobster community on a rock cliff in British Columbia. Photo: Terri Sutherland (DFO)

Development and Validation of a Biomonitoring Tool to Assess the Impacts of Salmon Aquaculture on Marine Benthic Communities Using Metabarcoding

Salmon aquaculture causes organic enrichment of surrounding sediments which has been shown to affect biodiversity and biomass of benthic fauna concomitant with sediment chemical changes. Environmental impact assessments have generally focused on changes in macro-­invertebrate communities based on manual taxonomic identification, requiring a substantial investment of labour and taxonomic expertise, or have relied on abiotic proxies like sulfide measurements with uncertain accuracy and reliability. Next-generation DNA sequencing methods offer an efficient and reliable lower-cost alternative by cataloging the diversity and abundance of benthic communities through metabarcoding of environmental DNA (eDNA). This approach has been successful at identifying environmental impacts associated with farming activities in Scotland, New Zealand, and Norway. This project will develop a new eDNA-based metabarcoding tool for assessing the impacts of farming on benthic metazoan and foraminiferan communities in BC and will validate its use for ongoing biomonitoring through comparisons with existing methods. This research will also address existing knowledge gaps about the impacts of salmon farming on benthic metazoans and foram communities and enrich DNA barcode databases for these taxa from BC inshore waters.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2019

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Cathryn Abbott (DFO)

Project Team: Xiaoping He, Terri Sutherland, Kristi Miller-Saunders, Kara Aschenbrenner, Scott Gilmore, Kerra Shaw (DFO)

Collaborators: Jan Pawlowski (U Geneva)

Contact: Cathryn.Abbott@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-P-06-eng.html

Assessment of Biodiversity and Functional Changes in Benthic Communities Associated with Aquaculture Activities in Newfoundland

This research project builds on the work being completed through two ongoing projects funded through the Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR) (Evaluating the efficacy of the fallowing period as a mitigation tool at predominantly hard-­bottom aquaculture sites in Newfoundland; and Development of a framework to assess the scale of year to year impacts from finfish aquaculture on hard ocean substrates in NL). This ongoing work allowed us to identify knowledge gaps and highlight the importance of linking biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) fluxes with observed benthic indicators.

First, a better knowledge of the natural communities needs to be established through completion of a reference database of the natural Newfoundland benthic communities in areas of aquaculture development. This will allow a better documentation of the biodiversity hot spots and/or the areas with low natural richness. Through a paired/matched comparison of baseline data (reference) with biodiversity data post-­aquaculture (gathered through the two other PARR initiatives), an evaluation of the 50% biodiversity loss areas and associated indicator presence will be attempted. Second, a characterization of the functional change of the natural benthic communities will be completed. Third, species richness and biodiversity data will be analyzed through linear mixed-effects (LME) models to examine whether species richness on the seafloor beneath and adjacent to aquaculture sites could be explained using available explanatory variables (visual indicators, distance, depth, and fallow period when applicable) treated as categorical variables.

The results of this research will be used to provide science advice to Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Aquaculture Management Directorate on the impact of finfish aquaculture over hard bottom substrates.

Date: MAY 2016–MAR. 2018

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Dounia Hamoutene (DFO)

Project Team: Flora Salvo, Sebastien Donnet, Shannon Cross, Dwight Drover, Fred Page (DFO)

Collaborators: Suzanne Dufour (MUN); Roberty Sweeney (SIMCorp Marine Environmental)

Contact: Dounia.Hamoutene@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-NL-09-eng.html

Biochemical Oxygen Demanding (BOD) Dispersion Model Validation Standards

The Aquaculture Activity Regulations (AAR) under the Fisheries Act came into effect in July 2015. The AAR Monitoring Standard for finfish marine aquaculture requires that dispersal models be used to predict contours of the rate of bottom deposited biochemical oxygen demanding matter released from fish farms and that some form of an aquaculture waste deposition model be used to make these predictions. The model to be used is not specified. In an effort to help farm owners, operators, and regulators become sufficiently aware of models that are potentially available, along with an identification and evaluation of how they function, what they assume, and what the accuracy of their predictions are, this project will: 1) review existing literature on aquaculture deposition models, and their applicability to AAR requirements and potential model audit criteria; 2) conduct an initial evaluation of a new release of the popular DEPOMOD model; and 3) review resuspension model literature and refine some recent aquaculture motivated resuspension models.

The results of this project will help provide information about the acceptability of models for the AAR requirements.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2018

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Fred Page (DFO)

Project Team: Adam Drozdowski, Brent Law, Blythe Chang, Susan Haigh, Stacey Paul, Andry Ratsimandresy (DFO)

Contact: Fred.Page@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-M-13-eng.html

Exploration of Methodologies for Environmental Effects Monitoring of Finfish Aquaculture Sites in Sandy Bottom Environments with Natural Disturbances: Shelburne, Nova Scotia

The project will contribute to a better understanding of the limitations of existing methods and models and provide the basis for better informed and more extensive proposals focused on the development of survey, monitoring, and modelling approaches for this type of environment. Existing and proposed finfish sites in parts of Nova Scotia are located on sandy bottoms that experience annual disturbance by near-bottom currents generated by offshore waves. Current regulatory benthic sampling techniques (cores and light weight grabs) and models (DEPOMOD) used to monitor and predict deposition and benthic degradation have been developed for muddy bottoms. The suitability of these approaches for sandy disturbed environments is scientifically uncertain and has been questioned by Nova Scotia provincial authorities and aquaculture consultants.

The purpose of this project was to test several benthic sampling approaches, including: grab samplers; Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) camera systems; acoustic echo sounder; side-scan sonar systems; monitoring the water current and wave environment during the anticipated disturbance season (autumn-winter); analyze sediments (and acoustic signals, where appropriate) for bottom type, grain size, organic matter, and sulphide content; gather water column density profile information (i.e., Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (CTD) profiles); and run DEPOMOD scenarios for currents representing the disturbance season. As an extension to the project, sediment re-suspension and transport models will be incorporated into the FVCOM and fine-tuned for the Shelburne area. The final analyses for this project are currently underway.

Date: APR. 2012–APR. 2016

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Fred Page (DFO)

Project Team: Blythe Chang, Mark McLean, Ed Parker, Randy Losier, Brent Law, Herb Vandermuelen, Sara Scouten (DFO)

Collaborators: Mike Szemerda (Cooke Aquaculture Inc.)

Contact: Fred.Page@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2012-M-06-eng.html

Analysing the Impact of Freshwater Aquaculture on Wild Fish Populations using DIDSON Technology

We explored the distribution of wild fish surrounding aquaculture cages using an innovative Dual-frequency IDentification SONar (DIDSON) in Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan, Canada. The aim of this project was to test the DIDSON technology as a monitoring tool for the impact of freshwater aquaculture on wild fish populations. We collected DIDSON footage before (2011-2013) and after (2014-2015) the installation of net cages at a new aquaculture site in Kadla Coulee and at a reference site in Lake Diefenbaker. We assessed the efficacy of the DIDSON to detect changes in wild fish habitat use around fish farms.

DIDSON technology is non-destructive towards fish habitat and allows for the non-intrusive detection of fish during both day and night, regardless of the turbidity. This multi-beam sonar technology uses 1.8 MHz frequency and 96 sub-beams to effectively fill the gap between underwater cameras and commonly used multi-frequency single-beam, dual-beam, or split-beam sonar equipment. We established an operational protocol and data analysis procedure for the niche-­application of DIDSON within an aquaculture setting and provided advice for future DIDSON surveys.

This research seeks to narrow the knowledge gap on the environmental interactions between cultured and wild fishes in order to make informed management decisions.

Date: APR. 2015–MAR. 2016

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Eva Enders (DFO)

Project Team: Victoria Danco, Cheryl Podemski, Cynthia Wlasichuk (DFO)

Contact: Eva.Enders@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2015-CA-05-eng.html

Image of the Kadla Coulee aquaculture site in Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan, Canada. Photo: Victoria Danco (DFO)

A wild fish observed swimming towards the Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that are milling within the aquaculture cage. The video was captured using DIDSON (Sound Metrics Corporation, Lake Forest Park, Washington, USA) on October 21, 2015. Video: Victoria Danco and Adam Waterer (DFO).

Oceanographic Study of the South Coast of Newfoundland (Baie d’Espoir and Fortune Bay)

The expansion of aquaculture activities in new areas in Newfoundland’s south coast presents a challenge to the biosecurity and the sustainability of this growth. This project sought to understand the oceanographic conditions (including circulation) in Newfoundland’s south coast and provide scientifically sound information to help establish Bay Management Areas. Building on these objectives, environmental data (temperature, salinity, currents, sea level, and wind speed and direction) collection, analysis, and modelling development were performed. The study first covered Bay d’Espoir and Hermitage Bay, later extending to Fortune Bay and Connaigre Bay where aquaculture activity has expanded or will expand. When possible, data collection was conducted in different seasons.

This study’s results will provide insight into the fundamental processes governing the ocean conditions and circulation in the area. Such knowledge helps to develop a model to simulate and map potential zones of influence associated with finfish aquaculture. These zones will be used to establish production management areas to support fish health management for finfish aquaculture and will support the estimation of potential environmental zones of benthic influence associated with the aquaculture activity. The analysis of the observation data provides a comprehensive overview of the physical environment of the area, showing temporal and spatial variation leading to differences among bays driven by complex dynamics. Comparison of the observation with model data shows that the model is a good tool to simulate the sea level variability in the area. However, the model is at an early calibration stage with limited forcing physics to accurately represent the complexity of the dynamics of the study area. This limits the possibility of conducting full comparison and validation between observed and modelled water circulation.

Date: APR. 2010–APR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Andry Ratsimandresy (DFO)

Project Team: Sebastien Donnet, Dwight Drover, Shannon Cross, Fred Page, Randy Losier, Danny Ings, Mike Foreman (DFO)

Collaborators: Newfoundland Department Fisheries, Forestry, and Agrifoods

Contact: Andry.Ratsimandresy@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2010-NL-09-eng.html

Temporal Assessment of Organic Loading from Finfish Aquaculture on Hard Bottom Communities in Newfoundland

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recently developed and is now implementing the Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) to clarify conditions under which aquaculture operators may treat their fish for disease and parasites, as well as deposit organic matter (i.e., uneaten feed and faeces). These regulations permit aquaculture operators to deposit organic matter and treatments within certain restrictions while avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating potential impacts of aquaculture on fish habitat and on commercial, recreational, and Aboriginal fisheries. In support of the AAR, there is a need to evaluate monitoring standards and protocols for biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) deposits (i.e., organic matter) in locations where it is not possible to collect sediment samples (i.e., hard-bottom substrates). So far, research findings suggest that video (i.e., visual) monitoring should be the primary tool for environmental assessment; however, a better understanding of its limitations is necessary.

To assess the impacts from unconsumed fish feed and fish faeces on the benthic community, it is necessary to validate video monitoring data with information on the benthic community. Samples of the waste that builds up under finfish farm net-pens will be collected and analyzed for changes in fauna and flora, and specifically for the presence or absence of indicator species (i.e., Polychaete worms and bacterial mats) known to occur near finfish farms. The study will also evaluate the use of remote video survey methods (ROVs) for monitoring benthic impacts, based on the protocol used in British Columbia. The results from this study will support the development of science advice on the best practices for monitoring the effects of finfish aquaculture on the hard bottom benthic community.

Date: APR. 2015–MAR. 2018

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Dounia Hamoutene (DFO)

Project Team: Flora Salvo, Dwight Drover, Kimberly Burt (DFO); Suzanne Dufour (MUN); Robert Sweeney (SIMCorp)

Contact: Dounia.Hamoutene@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2015-NL-07-eng.html

Alternative Detection Methods for Performance Indicators of the Oxic State of Bottom Sediments: Indicator Inter-Calibration and Thresholds

Potential impacts associated with biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter effluents at aquaculture sites are currently assessed by monitoring the oxic state of the bottom sediment. Performance indicators, including sulfide concentrations and redox potential (Eh), are currently used to determine the effects of BOD matter deposits on benthic organisms. Previous research has shown that the standard method for quantifying total free sulfides in sediments can provide highly inaccurate results as a result of contamination with mineral sulfides, calibration variability, and inappropriate sample storage. Eh measurements are also known to exhibit high variability.

This project continues ongoing research designed to evaluate an alternative indicator (dissolved oxygen) and to develop accurate and practical methods for total free sulfides analysis. Results from several oxic state indicators will be compared with the intention of identifying common thresholds that equate to the DFO management objective of no greater than 50% biodiversity loss. This project will also develop and evaluate sediment porewater sampling technologies as a potential alternative to the traditional use of grabs and cores in aquaculture monitoring programs.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Peter Cranford (DFO)

Project Team: Lindsay Brager, Fred Page, David Wong, Cathryn Abbott (DFO)

Contact: Peter.Cranford@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-M-07-eng.html

Lindsay Brager (DFO) conducting field tests of a new method for rapidly and accurately measuring sediment sulfide concentrations. Photo: Peter Cranford (DFO)

Feeding Pressure of Styela clava on Plankton (Phytoplankton and Zooplankton) in Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island

Traditionally, bivalve aquaculture carrying capacity has been viewed in the context of maximizing stocking biomass and profitability at the farm scale; however, ecological carrying capacity is now at the forefront. Ecological carrying capacity is defined as the most intensive aquaculture activity that can be supported in a given ecosystem without unacceptable changes in ecological processes. Most carrying capacity models do not integrate fouling organisms, such as tunicates, due to a lack of information on their biology and feeding physiology. Both industry and regulators recognize the need to evaluate the ecological impact of tunicates (such as Styela clava) within mussel farms to further improve carrying capacity numerical models.

This project proposes five objectives: 1) assess the biomass and size structure of S. clava on mussel socks; 2) determine S. clava clearance rates on natural phytoplankton communities; 3) measure S. clava retention efficiency on zooplankton communities; 4) evaluate S. clava capacity to retain lobster larvae (stages I and IV); and 5) integrate results in a numerical model to provide new carrying capacity outputs inclusive of fouling S. clava.

Results from this study will provide quantitative information on the S. clava biomass in mussel farms as well as its filtration pressure on plankton, including phytoplankton and zooplankton (such as lobster larvae). This study may also contribute to more detailed modelling exercises in tunicate infested mussel culture bays. The outcome will reinforce the quantitative framework for assessing carrying capacity scenarios (present or future) in Malpeque Bay, PEI.

Start Date: APR. 2015–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Rémi Sonier (DFO)

Project Team: Luc Comeau, André Nadeau (DFO)

Collaborators: Ramon Filgueira (Dalhousie U), Jeffrey Davidson (UPEI)

Contact: Remi.Sonier@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2015-G-10-eng.html

Reared lobster larvae. Photo: Luc Comeau (DFO)

Mussels and Styela clava in metabolic chambers. Photo: Remi Sonier (DFO)

Can Hard Clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) Increase the Rate of Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Recovery in Areas Impacted by Oyster Aquaculture?

The strategies tested in this study may promote the development of environmentally-friendly practices for the aquaculture industry by mitigating the negative impacts of active leases and eliminating the impacts of sites no longer in use.

Eelgrass communities are declining in many areas of the world, mainly due to increased inputs of nutrients and sediments from land-based sources, but also due to shading from aquaculture structures. Enhancement activities such as manual seed dispersal and transplanting whole plants have been explored to help counter eelgrass habitat declines. This has had limited success at a substantial cost. Bivalves have been found to stimulate eelgrass growth by clarifying the water column, thereby increasing light availability and increasing nitrogen levels through the production of waste products (faeces, pseudofaeces).

This project aims to determine whether the seeding of hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) can enhance eelgrass recovery in areas impacted by oyster aquaculture. Various densities of hard clams were introduced to areas with bare or sparse patches of eelgrass due to shading from previous commercial off-bottom oyster operations. Sediment characteristics, such as porosity, organic content, and carbon/nitrogen levels will be monitored along with the growth and recovery of the eelgrass over three years. Additionally, clams were sown directly under lines of suspended oyster bags at an active aquaculture site, to determine if their presence will encourage the growth of eelgrass in this heavily-impacted area.

This project supports the DFO priority of environmental performance.

Date: MAY 2014–JUN. 2017

Funded by: DFO–Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (DFO–ACRDP)

Co-funded by: L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.

Project Lead: Monica Boudreau (DFO)

Project Team: Claire Carver (Carver Marine Consulting)

Collaborators: André Mallet (L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.)

Contact: Monica.Boudreau@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/projects-projets/G-14-01-004-eng.html

Eelgrass (Zostera marina). Photo: Selma Pereira (DFO)

Recovery of Neural Function in Lobsters Following Sub-Lethal Salmosan® Exposure

From a fish health and welfare perspective, the treatment of sea lice infestations is a critical component of managing New Brunswick’s salmon farming industry. As with terrestrial farming, chemical pesticides are often a key component of integrated pest management for keeping such parasites at bay. However, many pesticides that are effective against sea lice cannot be used for this purpose because of their toxicity to non-target organisms. Salmosan® is one of the few pesticides approved for treating sea lice on farmed salmon in the Bay of Fundy, but it is known to be toxic to lobsters. Most research done to date on determining acceptable treatments with this compound has focused on acute lethality to lobsters, but it is also important to understand the non-lethal effects of exposure to this pesticide in order to model, and thereby better predict, the environmental impacts of sea lice treatments. The objective of this research is therefore to conduct controlled experiments to determine the rate at which lobsters recover from sub-lethal exposure to Salmosan®, using both behavioural and biochemical endpoints.

This research will provide essential data to support parallel oceanographic studies that are modelling pesticide dispersal following sea lice treatments, with the goal of improving application protocols that maximize treatment efficacy without undue harm to wild lobsters and their commercial harvesting and shipping.

Date: SEP. 2015–MAY 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Co-funded by: New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries (NBDAAF); University of New Brunswick (UNB)–Environmental Research Fund

Project Lead: Tillmann Benfey (UNBF)

Project Team: Danielle Deonarine (UNBF)

Collaborators: : Duane Barker (HMSC); Les Burridge (Burridge Consulting)

Contact: benfey@unb.ca

MSc. candidate Danielle Deonarine holding an experimental lobster. Photo: Anne McCarthy (HMSC)

Impact of Global Warming on Aquaculture Production in the Magdalen Islands: Blue Mussel, Atlantic Deep-Sea Scallop, and American Oyster

Mariculture is an important economic activity in the Magdalen Islands, which produce Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis), Atlantic deep-sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus), and American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica). However, in recent years, mariculture stakeholders have noted that organisms in lagoon breeding sites are showing signs of weakening. These changes appear to coincide with increased exposure time to temperatures above 20°C and higher than normal summer temperatures. To answer industry’s questions about the effects of warmer water temperatures on production and to help industry deal with this new problem, it is important to consider scenarios that will ensure sustainable aquaculture management in the context of global warming.

The main objective of the project is to assess the ability of Magdalen Islands mariculture production to adapt to global warming by studying the three species of bivalves produced at two experimental sites. During the three-year project, the environmental conditions of the breeding sites were measured, and aquaculture production yields were assessed for survival, growth, and condition index. Physical, biochemical, and genomic measurements were used to assess the status of the bivalves. Relationships established among the environmental characteristics of aquaculture sites, aquaculture yields, trophic conditions of the environment, and the physiological status of individuals will provide a better understanding of the impact of global warming on the Magdalen Islands and will be used to study potential scenarios for producers.

The research results will suggest potential concrete solutions to help Magdalen Islands shellfish producers adapt to global warming.

Date: JUN. 2014–JUL. 2017

Funded by: Fonds de recherche du Québec en Nature et technologies (FRQNT); Merinov and UQAR–Fonds d’Amorçage de Partenariat (FAP)

Project Lead: Lisandre Gilmore-Solomon (Merinov)

Project Team: Madeleine Nadeau, François Gallien, Francine Aucoin, Jules Arseneau, Michèle Langford, Chantal Vigneau, Claude Poirier, Denis Boudreau, Yvon Chevarie, Francis Poirier, Pascale Chevarie, Mickael Cyr (Merinov)

Collaborators: Réjean Tremblay (UQAR-ISMER)

Contact: lisandre.solomon@merinov.ca

Website: www.merinov.ca

Cages used to monitor mussel aquaculture yields. Photo: Pascale Chevarie (Merinov)

Respirometry system for measuring the physiological status of bivalves. Photo: Lisandre Gilmore-Solomon (Merinov; CÉGEP de la Gaspésie et des Îles)

Study of the Effects on Adult American Lobsters (Homarus americanus) Consuming Clams Exposed to Atlantic Salmon Sea Lice Therapeutants

A common approach to control infestations of sea lice on farmed Atlantic Salmon involves the use of in-feed pharmaceutical products, such as emamectin benzoate and ivermectin, both of which persist in marine sediments. The effects of these treatments on non-target species such as the American Lobster have been studied in the past but focussed primarily on lethality tests conducted over short time frames. New research is needed to determine chronic lethal and sublethal effects under realistic exposures. The present study will be completed in 2017 to provide further essential non-target ecotoxicology data associated with the response of adult American Lobsters following voluntary consumption of exposed clams. Marine clams will be exposed to sediment with varying concentrations of the commercial formulations of emamectin benzoate and ivermectin, individually and in combination. In addition to providing toxicological data on native species exposed to two relevant chemotherapeutants, this approach will initiate the study of food chain effects on American Lobsters providing insight into effects within a more environmentally relevant scenario where sea lice treatment compounds are found in the benthic environment.

This study provides new information on uptake and effects of presently used anti-sea lice treatments in marine clams and the American Lobster.

Date: DEC. 2016–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Project Lead: Dounia Daoud (UPEI; Homarus Inc.; EcoNov Inc.)

Project Team: Jason Bernier (CBCL Limited); Chris Bridger, Anne McCarthy, Duane Barker (HMSC); Martin Mallet (EcoNov Inc.)

Contact: Dounia.Daoud@econov.net

Study on the Sublethal Effects of the Sea Lice Pesticide Salmosan® (Azamethiphos) on Adult Male Lobsters (Homarus americanus)

Salmosan® (active ingredient: azamethiphos) is one of two pesticides currently permitted for use as a bath treatment to control sea lice in farmed salmon in Atlantic Canada. The release of pesticides from fish farms has raised concern regarding the potential for indigenous, non-target species to be exposed. In particular, there are growing concerns regarding the potential for effects on American Lobsters, a commercially important species in Atlantic Canada that is found in the near-shore environment where fish farms are located. Lobsters have been found to be the most sensitive species tested in laboratory assays examining the acute lethality of azamethiphos in the Salmosan® formulation. In this study, adult male lobsters were exposed to 0.06, 0.5, and 5 µg L−1 azamethiphos for one hour, repeated five times, over 48 h. Lobsters were assessed immediately after exposure and over six days of recovery.

Highlights: Inhibition of muscle cholinesterase activity detected in lobsters exposed to 0.5 and 5 µg L−1 azamethiphos. The 5 µg L−1 dose was considered lethal (93% cumulative mortality). Significant changes in hemolymph plasma biochemistry were most apparent in the 5 µg L−1 exposure group in the immediate post-exposure samples. Citrate synthase activity was significantly lower in muscles of the 0.5 µg L−1 exposure group compared to control lobsters. These results suggest that sublethal effects on lobster energetics may occur under laboratory exposure conditions (i.e., concentrations and duration) considered environmentally relevant, which could result in impairment under natural conditions.

This study provides new information on the sublethal effects of current use anti-sea lice pesticide on adult American Lobsters.

Date: JAN. 2014–JUN. 2015

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Project Lead: Dounia Daoud (UPEI; Homarus Inc.; EcoNov Inc.)

Project Team: Jason Bernier (CBCL Limited); Jordana Lynne Van Geest (Golder Associates Ltd.); Michael Van Den Heuvel (UPEI); Andrea Battison (CrustiPath Inc.); Nathalie Lefort, Marc Surette (U Moncton)

Collaborators: Homarus Inc.

Contact: Dounia.Daoud@econov.net

Sampling for hemolymph on adult male lobsters (Homarus americanus) exposed to sublethal levels of Salmosan® (azamethiphos). Photo: Dounia Daoud (EcoNov Inc.)

Adult male lobster (Homarus americanus) exposed to sublethal levels of Salmosan® (azamethiphos) placed in metabolic chamber for oxygen consumption measurements. Photo: Dounia Daoud (EcoNov Inc.)

Study of the Effects of Emamectin Benzoate or Ivermectin in Sediments on Juvenile American Lobsters (Homarus americanus)

Sea lice are large ectoparasitic copepods having a pan-global distribution and are pathogenic to salmonid species (e.g., Atlantic Salmon), especially populations in cage culture where the stocking density is unnaturally high. A common approach to reduce infection of sea lice to farmed Atlantic Salmon involves use of approved in-feed pharmaceutical products. Field studies have often measured these active ingredients in sediments proximal to salmon farms post treatment. The effects of these products on non-target species such as the American Lobster (Homarus americanus) has been studied in the past but not associated with lethal and sub-lethal effects from dosed sediment on which the juvenile lobsters live. The goal of this study was to assess the availability of two currently used sea lice treatments (active ingredients emamectin benzoate and ivermectin) and to measure acute mortality and sub-lethal effects on juvenile American Lobsters following extended exposure to dosed sediment in a static bath with water renewal. The study will provide ecotoxicology data associated with the response of juvenile American Lobsters when exposed to varying concentrations of emamectin benzoate- and ivermectin-dosed sediment using the commercial formulations.

This study provides new information on the effects of presently used anti-sea lice drugs on early post-settled life stages of H. americanus.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Project Lead: Dounia Daoud (UPEI; Homarus Inc.; EcoNov Inc.)

Project Team: Jason Bernier (CBCL Limited); Chris Bridger, Anne McCarthy, Duane Barker, Les Burridge (HMSC)

Contact: Dounia.Daoud@econov.net

Stage V lobsters exposed to sediment spiked with ivermectin and emamectin benzoate using commercial formulations in thermoregulated room. Photo: HMSC

Aerated jar with stage V lobster exposed to sediment spiked with emamectin benzoate using commercial formulation. Photo: HMSC

Pill cups loaded with individual stage V lobsters before exposure to spiked sediment with ivermectin and emamectin benzoate (via commercial formulations). Photo: HMSC

Validation of the Robustness of the Ecosystem Carrying Capacity Models Being Developed for St. Peters Bay

Although mussel aquaculture is a significant industry in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, a moratorium on further leasing there was established in 1999–2000. Recently, a Marine Spatial Planning process was initiated in order to review the moratorium and explore the potential expansion of mussel culture in Malpeque Bay. In this study, we have focused on the effects of a projected expansion scenario (590 ha) on current mussel lease (770 ha) productivity and availability of suspended food resources. The goal was to provide the most robust scientific assessment possible using available datasets. Towards that aim, three different modelling approaches have been carried out: 1) a connectivity analysis among the different culture areas of the bay; 2) a scenario analysis of organic seston dynamics based on a simplified biogeochemical model; and 3) a scenario analysis of phytoplankton dynamics based on a nutrient-phytoplankton-seston-bivalve ecosystem model. In addition, sensitivity tests were carried out in order to identify the parameters and processes for which further research is needed to reduce model uncertainty. The main outcomes of these modelling exercises suggest: 1) an 8% (± 2%) reduction in mussel growth in the Marchwater area due in part to direct connectivity among leases but also to bay-scale effects driven by the overall increase in bivalve biomass within the bay; and 2) a 17.7% net reduction of chlorophyll a at the bay-scale compared to a hypothetical scenario without aquaculture.

Date: APR. 2011–APR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Luc Comeau (DFO)

Project Team: Michel Starr, Liliane St-Amand, Thomas Guyondet, Rémi Sonier (DFO); Jon Grant, Ramon Filgueira (Dalhousie U)

Contact: Luc.Comeau@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2011-G-04-eng.html

Effects of Organophosphate Aquaculture Pesticide Azamethiphos on Stage I and Stage IV American Lobster (Homarus americanus) Larvae

Both the American Lobster fishery and salmon aquaculture are important to the economy of Atlantic Canada. Where these industries operate in close proximity, research is needed to better understand any interactions and their possible effects. Salmosan® (active ingredient azamethiphos) is an organophosphate therapeutant used to treat Atlantic Salmon for infestations of parasitic sea lice. The sensitivity of crustaceans to Salmosan® has been studied but few studies have examined the pesticide’s effects on the health of larval lobsters. Three-hour exposures using stage I and IV H. americanus larvae were carried out using a range of azamethiphos (as Salmosan®) concentrations between 0.04–71.11 µg L-1. Median lethal concentrations at three hours were determined to be 5.87 ± 2.01 µg L-1 for stage I and 20.45 ± 12.77 µg L-1 for stage IV lobsters. Post-exposure, surviving stage IV larvae were raised to stage V and sublethal parameters including intermoult period, specific growth rate, moult increment, and global gene expression were determined. General linear model analysis (α = 0.05) determined that intermoult period was significantly increased in the 71.11 µg L-1 azamethiphos treatment when compared to the control (<0.05 µg L-1 azamethiphos). Moult increment and specific growth rate were not significantly affected. RNA sequencing was performed using Illumina Hiseq 2500 PE125 and subsequent RT-qPCR was performed to confirm expression of genes of interest. Gene expression was used to establish effects on biological pathways of H. americanus in order to determine unique gene induction patterns. Established gene induction patterns may be used as a potential diagnostic tool for pesticide exposure in lobster.

This study provides new information on the effects of a current use anti-sea lice pesticide on Stage I and IV H. americanus larvae.

Date: APR. 2015–MAR. 2016

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Project Lead: Dounia Daoud (UPEI; Homarus Inc.; EcoNov Inc.)

Project Team: Jason Bernier (CBCL Limited); Spencer Greenwood, Michael Van Den Heuvel, Laura Taylor (UPEI); Fraser Clark (Mount Allison University)

Collaborators: Martin Mallet (Homarus Inc.)

Contact: Dounia.Daoud@econov.net

Holding tank for stage IV lobster larvae (Homarus americanus) exposed to sublethal levels of Salmosan® (azamethiphos). The high water bubbling tends to decrease natural cannibalism. Photo: Laura Taylor (UPEI)

Stage IV lobster larvae (Homarus americanus) were exposed for three hours to Salmosan® (azamethiphos) in 1 L jars. Photo: Laura Taylor (UPEI)

Stage IV lobster larvae (Homarus americanus) weighted and measured after a three hour exposure to various levels of Salmosan® (azamethiphos). Photo: Laura Taylor (UPEI)

Paving the Way for Salmon-Kelp Integrated Aquaculture in British Columbia: A Foundational Field Trial Assessing Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) Growth and Quality at BC Salmon Farms

Kelp is a fast-growing marine crop that requires virtually zero energy inputs, utilizing sunlight and dissolved nutrients (e.g., nitrogen, phosphorus) from the surrounding environment for growth. This study examined the feasibility of growing kelp on commercial salmon farm tenures where levels of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus may be locally-enriched.

In January 2016, Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) seed was deployed on 5 m vertical polyethylene lines at 15 salmon farms and two oyster farms around Vancouver Island. Kelp was harvested in the summer after approximately 150 days; frond length, width, wet/dry weight, proximate analysis, and metal accumulation were measured. Maximum frond length ranged from <20 cm to >330 cm, depending on the site. Proximate analysis (KJ, protein, ash, fat, calories, carbohydrates, moisture) of dried kelp revealed site-specific differences in nutritional parameters, with carbohydrates ranging from 20.4% to 47.5% of tissue dry weight. Metal accumulation (Al, As, Ca, Cd, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, P, Pb, Zn) in kelp tissue from the 15 salmon farms is being measured using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). A follow-up, more intensive kelp production trial at select sites will commence in 2017 using horizontal kelp lines deployed from customized floating rafts.

The siting of many salmon farm operations in British Columbia would support excellent Sugar Kelp production, a sustainable crop with diverse commercial applications. Through field studies such as this we hope to demonstrate the feasibility of salmon-kelp integrated aquaculture in BC with the goal of improving the environmental and socio-economic performance of salmon farm tenures.

Date: OCT. 2015–DEC. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)–Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges Grant (NSERC–IRCC)

Co-Funded by: Cermaq Canada Ltd.; Creative Salmon Co. Ltd.; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.; North Island College (NIC)

Project Lead: Stephen Cross (NIC)

Project Team: Allison Byrne (NIC)

Collaborators: NIC-CARTI; Cermaq Canada Ltd.; Creative Salmon Company Ltd.; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.; Mac’s Oysters Ltd.; Odyssey Shellfish Ltd.

Contact: Stephen.Cross@nic.bc.ca

Website: https://www.nic.bc.ca/research

Stephen Cross examining a Sugar Kelp, Saccharina latissima, frond. Photo: Allison Byrne (NIC)

The Effects of Sublethal Aquaculture Chemotherapeutant Exposure on Pink Salmon

An improved understanding of chemical impacts on near-shore ecosystems is essential to responsible stewardship of Canada’s coastal areas. In order to accurately assess the risk to non-target marine fish species posed by the use of the chemotherapeutants emamectin benzoate, azamethiphos, deltamethrin, cypermethrin, or hydrogen peroxide in the receiving environment, information regarding their sublethal toxicity is essential. Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) embryos were hatched in the laboratory, transferred to seawater, and raised until they were the appropriate size for swimming and behavioural assays following exposure (pulse: 1 h, 3 h, 6 h; and longer term: 96 h) to several concentrations of each aquaculture chemical. Fish were tested for swimming performance using a measure of critical swimming speed (Ucrit), avoidance/attraction behaviour, and the ability to detect food. All aquaculture pesticides (except hydrogen peroxide) reduced Ucrit values at concentrations below 96 h-LC50 values determined for this species in preliminary toxicity tests. For azamethiphos, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, and emamectin benzoate, concentration-dependent reductions in swim performance were seen. Fish actively avoided all chemicals except deltamethrin at similar concentrations and avoidance to hydrogen peroxide only occurred at the highest concentration. Following exposure to each chemical at various concentrations for longer exposures (6 and 96 h), a loss of attraction to food was noted in olfactory response tests. The data obtained from this research will allow regulators to assess the risks posed to the environment adjacent to salmon aquaculture facilities and the risks posed to non-target fish species from chemotherapeutant use.

New data will support assessments of risks posed to the environment adjacent to salmon aquaculture facilities and the risks posed to non-target fish species from chemotherapeutant use.

Date: SEP. 2014–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Co-Funded by: Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Project Lead: Chris Kennedy (SFU)

Project Team: Katerina Vasilenko (SFU)

Contact: ckennedy@sfu.ca

Swim tunnel used for assessing fish swimming performance (critical swimming speed [Ucrit]) following exposure to chemotherapeutants. Photo: Feng Lin (SFU)

The Lethal, Physiological, and Behavioural Effects of Anti-Sea Lice Therapeutants in Non-Target Crustacean Species

Environmental contamination and effects on non-target organisms associated with the chemotherapeutic control of sea lice infestations in salmonid aquaculture has emerged as a significant concern. This research specifically addresses information gaps that need to be filled to properly manage any risks associated with the use of three chemicals currently used in Canada. Several shrimp species were tested for the acute lethal effects of current-use chemicals: the reference species Mysid shrimp (Mysidopsis bahia East coast species), and several species of Pacific shrimp including the Coonstripe (Pandalus hypsinotus), Dock (Pandalus danae), and Pink Shrimp (Pandalus jordani), Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros), Ghost Shrimp (Neotrypaea spp.), and an unidentified sand shrimp. Shrimp were exposed to at least five concentrations of either SLICE®, Salmosan®, or Paramove 50® for 1 to 96 h. Juvenile Pacific coast shrimp were equally as sensitive to all three chemicals as their east coast counterparts. Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros) exposed to water containing the active ingredients of SLICE®, Salmosan®, and Paramove 50® (emamectin benzoate, azimethiphos, and hydrogen peroxide) resulted in concentration-dependent increases in oxygen consumption. In a choice/avoidance assay, unexposed Spot Prawns, acclimated in a shuttle box apparatus, showed conflicting results to hydrogen peroxide, emamectin benzoate, and azamethiphos at several concentrations. Prawns were actively attracted and actively avoided all chemicals at low concentrations. This research will ensure the appropriate regulation of chemotherapeutant use in Canadian aquaculture and maintain the goal of protecting non-target organisms in the marine environment.

New data will support assessments of risk from current-use chemotherapeutants posed to a range of non-target benthic crustaceans found in proximity to Pacific salmon aquaculture facilities.

Date: OCT. 2015–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Co-Funded by: Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Project Lead: Chris Kennedy (SFU)

Project Team: Jill Bennett (SFU)

Contact: ckennedy@sfu.ca

Tanks holding Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros) for lethal and sublethal toxicity experiments. Photo: Kate Mill (SFU)

The Effects of Anti-Sea Lice Chemotherapeutants on Sensitive Life Stages of Non-Target Crustacean Species in Combination with Environmental Stressors

There is specific concern regarding the use of the anti-sea lice therapeutants Salmosan®, SLICE®, and Paramove 50® in the aquaculture industry specifically in regard to their toxicity to Pacific coast region organisms. In real world scenarios, organisms are often challenged with multiple environmental stressors simultaneously, including those of a physical nature (e.g., oxygen, temperature, and salinity fluctuations). In these studies, the range of oxygen, temperature, and salinity tolerances in Spot Prawn, Pandalus platyceros, were determined in order to design experiments to measure the acute toxicity of these chemicals under varying physical conditions. In acute lethality studies, Spot Prawn juveniles and adults were exposed to five concentrations of each individual chemical formulation in glass 40-L glass aquaria for up to 96 h under varying oxygen, temperature, and salinity conditions. Juvenile Spot Prawns were much more sensitive to all chemicals than adults, and acute toxicity was exacerbated by exposure to physical conditions approaching tolerable limits. In particular, oxygen concentrations, followed by temperature, and then salinity had the most pronounced effects on increasing chemical toxicity. This research specifically addresses information gaps that need to be filled in order for proper assessments of the environmental consequences of sea lice pesticide use in Canada to be made. This research provided information on the toxicity of these chemicals under environmentally realistic conditions to a representative and sensitive Pacific coast marine organism.

New data will support assessments of risk from chemotherapeutant use in combination with environmental stressors posed to a non-target benthic crustacean found in proximity to Pacific coast salmon aquaculture facilities.

Date: SEP. 2014–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Co-Funded by: Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Project Lead: Chris Kennedy (SFU)

Project Team: Kate Mill, Jill Bennett (SFU)

Contact: ckennedy@sfu.ca

Exposure tanks for Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros) for toxicity experiments under multiple stressor conditions. Photo: Feng Lin (SFU)

The Environmental Fate and Non-Target Effects of Sea Lice Drugs and Pesticides Used in Salmon Aquaculture

Five chemotherapeutants used globally to control sea lice in salmon farming operations of particular interest with regard to their fate and toxicity are: deltamethrin, cypermethrin, azamethiphos, hydrogen peroxide, and emamectin benzoate; the latter three of which are currently used in Canada. Predictions of the persistence and toxicity of these chemicals to non-target organisms has been difficult, and data gaps make estimations of risk highly inaccurate. The main objectives of this research were to assess: 1) the environmental persistence and partitioning of these compounds, and 2) their acute and sublethal toxicity to non-target marine organisms. In micrososm experiments, the partitioning behaviour, and water and sediment half-lives were determined. Emamectin benzoate, cypermethrin, and deltamethrin partitioned mainly into sediments, while azimethiphos and hydrogen peroxide remained in the aqueous phase. Generally, the persistence of these chemicals was cypermethrin > deltamethrin > emamectin benzoate > azimethiphos > hydrogen peroxide. In standardized acute toxicity tests, the susceptibility to each chemical was species-specific and no general trends were evident. Kelp Macrocystis pyrifera germination and growth were only affected by hydrogen peroxide. Echinoderm Strongylocentrotus purpuratus fertilization was affected by cypermethrin > deltamethrin > emamectin benzoate > hydrogen peroxide. Bivalve Mytilus edulis development was affected by hydrogen peroxide > emamectin benzoate > azamethiphos. For the mysid Americamysis bahia, all chemicals tested were highly toxic at concentrations far below those used in aquaculture (deltamethrin > cypermethrin > emamectin bezoate > azimethiphos > hydrogen peroxide). This research yields important information required to ensure the proper and safe use of aquaculture pesticides, and to appropriately regulate these important aquaculture chemicals to protect the environment.

New information on the environmental fate and non-target toxicity of five chemotherapeutants will inform decisions on the responsible use and management of these products for the control of sea lice.

Date: SEP. 2014–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–National Contaminants Advisory Group (DFO–NCAG)

Co-Funded by: Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Project Lead: Chris Kennedy (SFU)

Project Team: Fauve Strachan (SFU)

Collaborators: Frank Gobas, Victoria Otton (SFU; Nautilus Environmental)

Contact: ckennedy@sfu.ca

Structure and Function of the Salmon Farm “Reef”

The presence of fish farm infrastructure provides habitat for native marine flora and fauna from the surrounding environment, in many ways acting as an artificial “reef”. This project is documenting the reef community structure at four salmon farms in different environments around Vancouver Island. Scraped samples and high-resolution photos of the community at each site are being collected seasonally from billets on all sides of the farm. The abundance (biomass per unit area) and composition (biodiversity) of the communities will be compared within and between sites over time. In addition to seasonal billet sampling, five hard plastic panels were deployed at 1 m depth at each site and will remain in the water undisturbed (with the exception of being photographed) for 18 months. These will be used to document and compare the settlement rate and composition in different farming environments.

Understanding the community of native species inhabiting fish farm infrastructure over time and in different locations will help identify key relationships between salmon farms and the surrounding environment, providing insight into the function of these dynamic communities.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2018

Funded by: BCSFA–Marine Environmental Research Program (BCSFA–MERP)

Co-Funded by: Cermaq Canada Ltd.; Creative Salmon Co. Ltd.; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; North Island College (NIC)

Project Lead: Stephen Cross (NIC)

Project Team: Chris McKindsey (DFO); Allison Byrne (NIC)

Collaborators: NIC–CARTI; Cermaq Canada Ltd.; Creative Salmon Company Ltd.; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.; SEA Vision Group Inc.;

Contact: Stephen.Cross@nic.bc.caW

Website: https://www.nic.bc.ca/research

Examples of different reef communities observed on fish farm billets. Photo: NIC

Identifying Critical Ecological Thresholds for Tunicate Infestations on Mussel Farms

Mussel farmers in PEI have developed treatment regimens to control invasive tunicates (Ciona intestinalis and Styela clava). To study the ecological thresholds of these treatments on the benthic environment and the water column, we set up field and laboratory experiments and used modelling to predict farm-scale effects. Firstly, we studied high pressure water treatment for C. intestinalis in St. Mary’s Bay. Treatments effectively removed 54% and 78% of C. intestinalis from infested socks in July and September, respectively. During treatment, drifting tunicates were observed in narrow patches, but most of the sinking biomass fell directly below the pressure-washed line. We found no significant difference in organic enrichment in sediments below the treated line and those below the untreated line. These results could be due to heavy predation by crabs during treatment activities. For most stations, mean redox fell within the anoxic category. A synoptic survey of the Bay of St. Mary’s found hypoxic sediment conditions in July and oxic conditions in November, regardless of whether sediments were within or outside of the mussel farm. A preliminary modelling assessment indicated that C. intestinalis fouling is best controlled by applying early treatments (combination July and August) to limit impacts in terms of food reduction and total organic sedimentation under the lines. Secondly, we studied water pH variation during hydrated lime treatment for S. clava in Malpeque Bay. Overall the treatment produced a negligible pH signal in the water column and on the benthic substrate with a short-term increase followed by a quick return to baseline values.

Date: APR. 2011–APR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Thomas Landry (DFO)

Project Team: Andrea Locke, Chris McKindsey, Monique Niles, Daniel Bourque, Thomas Guyondet, Luc Comeau (DFO); Aaron Ramsay (DFARD); Jeff Davidson, Thitiwan Patanastienkul (UPEI–AVC)

Contact: Thomas.Landry@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2011-G-05-eng.html

Co-Culture of Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) and Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima): Exploring the Potential Effect of Seaweeds in Deterring the Effect of Duck Predation on Mussels, Cascapedia Bay (Quebec)

In Europe and Canada, the economic losses in Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) farms due to duck predation represent a major problem. In this proof of concept experiment, an alternative approach will be presented that aims to reduce duck predation in Canadian mussel farms where traditional techniques are not effective. These methods generally either focus on protecting mussels by isolating them in nets or cages, or use active repelling techniques (sound, light, etc.). Such techniques are often expensive, stressful to duck populations, only effective for a short time, and do not take into consideration drifting ice. To solve the problem, Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) will be cultivated above the mussel culture line, to visually shield the mussels. The hypothesis is that by hiding the mussels from ducks’ field of vision, they could get some protection without imposing further stress on the ducks. Additionally, it is suggested that Sugar Kelp and Blue Mussels could benefit from each other’s proximity in terms of production yields, consumption, and excretion. The Sugar Kelp plantlets were outplanted at sea in November 2016. Their biomass and overall aspect will be recorded simultaneously with the mussels’ yield (wet kg / m), survival rate (# indiv. / m), and overall quality (Body Condition Index) during the summer of 2017. This proof of concept is being carried out in the Cascapedia Bay (Québec) in partnership with the mussel industry.

This work will contribute to provide alternative solutions to prevent the predation of culture mussel by sea ducks. It will also document the potential benefits of polyculture in a mussel farm.

Date: AUG. 2016–JUL. 2017

Funded by: Ministère de l’éducation et de l’enseignement supérieur du Québec (MÉES) [Québec Ministry of Higher Education and Training]

Co-Funded by: Merinov

Project Lead: Pierre-Olivier Fontaine (UW; CEGEP–EPAQ)

Project Team: Estelle Pedneault, Éric Tamigneaux, Quentin Cometti (CEGEP–EPAQ)

Collaborators: Éric Bujold (La Ferme Maricole du Grand Large)

Contact: POFontaine@cegepgim.ca

The twine carrying the Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) plantlets is wound around the culture line on the mussel farm. Photo: Pierre-Olivier Fontaine (UW; CEGEP-EPAQ)

Setting artificial kelp made of fabric (control treatment) on the mussel farm. Photo: Pierre-Olivier Fontaine (UW; CEGEP-EPAQ)

Tracking in Situ Real-Time Responses of Ocean Acidification Effects on Biological Organisms and Influence on Plankton Diversity

Coastal margins are under increasing human-induced pressures including eutrophication and ocean acidification, which interact with natural environmental fluctuations in ways that can exacerbate calcium carbonate (CaCO3) mineral corrosivity. Ocean acidification negatively impacts a range of species, especially those dependent on CaCO3 saturation states for shell formation, including socio-economically important species like marine shellfish. The capacity for marine populations to adapt to these changes is unknown, and the loss of dominant coastal and estuarine organisms such as shellfish may significantly alter marine ecosystem structure and function, as well as threaten food security.

This research combines lower trophic level monitoring (plankton analysis), physiological responses (functional genomics of multiple species of shellfish) and high speed (0.5Hz) near real-time oceanographic monitoring at a field site in the northern Salish Sea in British Columbia (BC). This initial project is a novel pairing of these technologies in situ, and provides information on coastal variability and impacts on ecosystem productivity in a poorly sampled portion of the BC coastal margin. This work is currently ongoing, but preliminary results of gene expression studies of multiple commercial shellfish species and accompanying plankton work are underway. Recent equipment updates have allowed direct sampling of biological responses to ocean acidification conditions in a real world environment, to enable the examination of the impact of ocean acidification on the long-term health and productivity of coastal ecosystems in BC and elsewhere.

Date: FEB. 2015–ONGOING

Funded by: Hakai Institute

Co-Funded by: Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF); Vancouver Island University (VIU)

Project Leads: Helen Gurney-Smith (DFO); Wiley Evans (Hakai Institute)

Project Team: Kayla Mohns, Caitlin Smith (VIU); Tamara Russell (VIU; Microthalassia Inc.)

Collaborators: Léo Pontier, Katie Pocock, Alex Hare (Hakai Institute)

Contact: Helen.Gurney-Smith@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://seaomics.wixsite.com/research/research-blog

Quadra Island field-site. Photo: Kayla Mohns (VIU)

One of the test species and life stages – adult Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Photo: Kayla Mohns (VIU)

Molecular laboratory analysis (Kayla Mohns). Photo: Caitlin Smith (VIU)

From left to right, Caitlin Smith, Helen Gurney-Smith (DFO), and Léo Pontier (Hakai Institute) at a shellfish raft monitoring station. Photo: Kayla Mohns (VIU)

Building an Understanding of the Mobile Wild-Farmed Interactions Occurring around Aquaculture Farms in the Bay of Fundy

Man-made structures in the ocean are often attractive to a multitude of different species. Not only do these three-dimensional structures provide habitat and shelter from predation for various organisms, structures such as fish farms, where food is added on a daily basis, often provides nourishment for the food webs that become established on these structures. The biological interactions that occur on aquaculture farms are easily apparent in the form of naturally occurring biofouling organisms. They coat the lines and nets, causing increased physical drag on the system from currents as well as a reduction in water flow through the nets. This can sometimes affect oxygen levels in the water within the cage. These organisms are often sessile and many studies have been done on their development and possible methods for control. However, there is also a mobile suite of species, both benthic and pelagic, that are attracted to the energy and habitats associated with aquaculture farms. These organisms are much more transitory and difficult to sample and as a result, very little is known of their ecological interactions and their relative presence on the site. This study is starting to document the mobile fauna that are using the site on a seasonal basis through a combination of acoustic and photographic technologies to assess the potential interactions that they may have with the cultured species. These observations will form the basis of an understanding on the scale of benefits that these species may accrue and also the potential risks they represent.

Understanding the scale at which wild species are utilizing intensively cultured aquaculture sites will provide a basis for the determination of the likelihood of negative interactions happening. These interactions can go both ways from either farm to wild or vice versa and can be either detrimental or beneficial. It has implications on fish health (parasites and disease) and the zone of influence from farming activities.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2019

Funded by: DFO

Project Lead: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Project Team: Chris McKindsey, Gregor Reid, Steve Neil, Craig Smith, Jonathan Day (DFO)

Collaborators: Eva Enders (DFO)

Contact: Shawn.Robinson@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/SABS/Home

Utilization of a mussel farm by wild fish and biofouling species at an aquaculture farm site in Spain. Similar situations occur in the Bay of Fundy around aquaculture farms, however, poor water visibility prevents a clear photo representation. Photo: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Meta-Analysis of Freshwater Aquaculture Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Data

Recent increases in production capacity in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia have prompted regulators to consider strategies for managing freshwater finfish aquaculture, in particular, ecosystem carrying capacity which is tightly coupled with the phosphorus released in aquaculture waste. Currently in Ontario, a water quality monitoring program is imposed as a condition to aquaculture licenses to ensure that the release of phosphorus from finfish farms does not exceed regulatory thresholds. The program, however, does not address phosphorus levels near or downstream from freshwater finfish farms, or if phosphorus concentrations have increased over the decade that sampling has been conducted. One of the primary environmental concerns restricting the expansion of the freshwater finfish cage industry is the ability of the environment to assimilate waste, in particular phosphorus. Phosphorus is the nutrient that limits the biomass of primary producers; excessive amounts of phosphorus released from aquaculture cages pose a risk of eutrophication in freshwater ecosystems.

A decade of water monitoring data collected through the historic Ontario monitoring program was analyzed to determine if there is evidence that freshwater finfish cages are contributing to elevated phosphorus concentrations and to the eutrophication in the environment. The results from this work have a high probability of being used to improve social license for the industry as they demonstrate to the public that the industry is being carefully monitored by the provincial regulator and that there has been no trend of decreasing water quality at active aquaculture sites.

Date: APR. 2014–MAR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Cheryl Podemski (DFO)

Contact: Cheryl.Podemski@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2014-CA-09-eng.html

Evaluation of Benthic Far-Field and Site Recovery Effects from Aquaculture within the Letang Inlet, New Brunswick

One of the primary environmental effects of coastal marine aquaculture is related to the deposition of organic material (uneaten fish food and feces) to the seabed and the associated change in benthic organisms inhabiting the affected area. While the obvious effects of organic deposition are limited to close proximity of an aquaculture site, there exists concern that there may be impacts in the far-field from the cumulative effect of multiple commercial operations within a limited area.

In the restricted area of the Bay of Fundy’s Letang Inlet in New Brunswick, there is some concern about these types of effects where changes in the macrofauna species composition have been previously observed. The industry has attempted to remediate this situation using various management strategies such as reduction of operational sites, and employment of fallowing periods according to Bay Management Areas designation. However, the effectiveness of these changes has not yet been assessed. This project assesses the far-field environmental effects of marine aquaculture on the benthic community structure within the Letang Inlet over a four-year period. It will also compare these far-field effects to a previous baseline study to determine whether the management approaches within Letang Inlet have stabilized or improved conditions. This will provide valuable information to aquaculture regulators and the industry on the effectiveness of current management measures.

This project supports the DFO priority of environmental performance.

Date: JUN. 2013–JUN. 2016

Funded by: DFO–Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (DFO–ACRDP)

Co-Funded by: Northern Harvest Sea Farms Ltd.

Project Leads: Andrew Cooper (DFO); Gerhard Pohle (Huntsman Marine Science Centre)

Project Team: Rebecca Milne, Lou Van Guelpen (Huntsman Marine Science Centre); Marc Blanchard (DFO); Robert Findlay (U Alabama); Robert Clarke (Plymouth Marine Laboratory); Karl Whelan (Eastern Charlotte Waterways Inc.)

Collaborators: Larry Ingalls (Northern Harvest Sea Farms Ltd.)

Contact: Andrew.Cooper@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/projects-projets/M-13-01-003-eng.html

Gerhard Pohle taking a water sample during field work on board the CCGS Viola M. Davidson. Photo: Andrew Cooper (DFO)

Freshwater Finfish Cage Aquaculture: Development of Sediment Biogeochemical Indicators for Regulation of Freshwater Cage Aquaculture

Benthic macroinvertebrates play a major role in waste assimilation (recycling waste) and in the transfer of carbon and energy from aquaculture wastes to higher trophic levels within lake ecosystems (i.e., they eat the waste and grow larger, thus becoming a bigger source of food for species higher up in the food chain).

Waste from freshwater finfish cage farms directly impacts nearby benthic invertebrate abundance and diversity. Preserving the function of benthic invertebrate communities is necessary given their role in organic carbon cycling near freshwater aquaculture farms.

Benthic invertebrates are typically used as indicators of benthic condition; however, sample collection and taxonomic identification of the various species within a monitoring program framework are time consuming and costly. The development of a reliable, readily measurable proxy for benthic invertebrate indicators would expedite the process of sediment monitoring. Such a proxy is contingent on a well-established relationship to the invertebrate community structure and requires testing across a range of locations to ensure cross-region applicability.

This project will:

  1. Study the biogeochemistry of sediments receiving a gradient of aquaculture wastes;
  2. Describe the gradient of effects of organic carbon deposition on the biology and geochemistry of the freshwater benthic environment;
  3. Identify thresholds of geochemical changes in freshwater sediments associated with major changes in the structure of the invertebrate community;
  4. Support the development of regulatory thresholds for managing the deposition of aquaculture wastes at levels that would maintain an acceptable degree of benthic alteration;
  5. Support the assessment of risk associated with the deposits of wastes; and
  6. Contribute to the development of regulatory standards and monitoring protocols for aquaculture-affected sediments, including fallowing practices for freshwater aquaculture, by identifying potential sediment recovery targets.

Date: APR. 2014–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Cheryl Podemski (DFO)

Project Team: Megan Otu, Cyndi Wlasichuk, Jian Zhang, Doug Geiling (DFO)

Contact: Cheryl.Podemski@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2014-CA-08-eng.html

Effect of Wind Forcing on the Oceanographic Conditions of Fortune Bay–Belle Bay: Identification of Changes in Water Physical Conditions and Ocean Currents, and Development of a Forecasting Tool

Results of recent research have indicated that while the tide accounts for less than 10% of the ocean current variability in most of Fortune Bay–Belle Bay (Newfoundland and Labrador), wind forcing and water physical structure have a significant, if not dominant, influence. Present findings also suggest that large-scale (e.g., at scale of Fortune Bay and/or the Newfoundland shelf) mechanisms affecting the water physical conditions and ocean currents are taking place as a response to wind forcing.

This project aims to identify and describe some of the dominant mechanisms responsible for short-term upwelling and downwelling events as well as surface and sub-surface oceanic circulation induced by wind forcing. This project will also develop a high resolution numerical (computer) model able to reproduce and forecast the consequences of wind events on oceanographic features which will be applied to aquaculture related issues.

For instance, results from this project will help inform the aquaculture industry as they conduct aquaculture operations such as when best to apply pesticides, choose appropriate sites and design the infrastructure to prevent failure. Results from this project will also help inform the regulators in matters such as fish pest and pathogen management, release of organic matter into the environment as well as cumulative effects and ecosystem management.

Date: APR. 2015–JUN. 2018

Funded by: DFO–Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (DFO–ACRDP)

Co-Funded by: Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association; Cold Ocean Salmon Inc.; Northern Harvest Sea Farms Ltd.; IFREMER

Project Leads: Sebastien Donnet, Andry Ratsimandresy (DFO)

Project Team: Dwight Drover, Pierre Goulet, Shannon Cross, Guoqi Han (DFO); Pascal Lazure (IFREMER)

Collaborators: Mark Lane (NAIA); Julia Bungay (Cold Ocean Salmon Inc.); Jennifer Caines (Northern Harvest Sea Farms Ltd.)

Contact: Sebastien.Donnet@dfo-mpo.gc.ca, Andry.Ratsimandresy@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/projects-projets/15-1-N-02-eng.html

Location of field activities conducted in November 2016. Photo: Pierre Goulet (DFO)

Project lead Sebastien Donnet (DFO) preparing an oceanographic mooring to be deployed in Fortune Bay. Photo: Pierre Goulet (DFO)

Robustness of Alternative Benthic Impact Indicators: Quantification of Spatial and Temporal Variability of Alternative Methods, and Application at Aquaculture Sites Across Different Farm and Environmental Conditions

Benthic effects associated with biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter effluents at aquaculture sites are currently assessed by monitoring the oxic state of surficial sediment. The Aquaculture Activity Regulations (AAR) require measurements of sulfide concentrations around finfish aquaculture sites as a proxy for benthic biodiversity impacts. However, it has been widely recognized that there are some problems with current protocols used for monitoring the oxic state of sediments. Alternative methods for measuring sulfide and oxygen concentrations have been developed that may address some of the weakness of the methods traditionally used. This project will test these new methodologies and technologies across a range of aquaculture (shellfish and finfish) and seabed conditions (mud, sand, and mixed) in Canada to determine the general applicability of these methods for reaching conclusions on sediment oxic state and related benthic impacts, and to measure the temporal and spatial variability in oxic state indicators among these different methods.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2019

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Lindsay Brager (DFO)

Project Team: Peter Cranford, Fred Page, David Wong, Brent Law (DFO)

Contact: Lindsay.Brager@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-M-08-eng.html

Casey O’Laughlin and Emma Poirier (DFO) bringing a sediment core on board the CCGS Viola M. Davidson at a salmon aquaculture study site near Southwest Nova Scotia. Photo: Peter Cranford (DFO).

The Development of a Robust Methodology for Sulfide Probe Calibration and Sediment Sampling

The results of this project can contribute to the development of a reliable, accurate, consistent, and robust methodology for sediment sampling, which could be adopted by provincial regulators.

In various provinces, sulfide concentrations in sediment are measured as the fundamental indicator of environmental impacts from aquaculture. Because each provincial government has established its own SOPs for interpreting sulfide concentrations, the evaluation of environmental impacts could differ among provinces.

Previous research has revealed that the standard solutions (“standards”) used in sediment sulfide monitoring and probe accuracy (post-calibration) degrade significantly over time. These findings suggest the need for standardized sediment sulfide methodologies. This study examines potential sources of error related to the methods used in the collection, storage, transportation, and handling of sediment samples.

This project supports the DFO objective of environmental performance. Specifically, the following results were found:

  • Sample collection: No one sampler worked well in all sediment types investigated. In all sediment types, multiple samples may need to be taken before an acceptable one is collected. Video footage of deployment and retrieval of gear was useful in assessing gear performance and confidence in the integrity of collected samples.
  • Sample storage: During storage, sediment sulfide concentration changed over time, depending on sediment type, level of sulfide present, and storage temperature. To reduce variability due to storage, all samples should be treated uniformly until analyzed.
  • Sample analysis: Sulfide measurements should be made as soon as possible after collection, with a standardized time of analysis established. The differing ages of probes used in analyses were not a concern in readings.

Date: JUL. 2014–JUN. 2016

Funded by: DFO–Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (DFO–ACRDP)

Co-Funded by: Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA); SIMCorp

Project Lead: Monica Lyons (DFO)

Project Team: Blythe Chang, David Wong, Kenneth MacKeigan, Fred Page, Ed Parker, Nathan Blasco (DFO); Bob Sweeney, Leah Lewis-McCrea, Tara Daggett, Amanda Smith, Janelle Arsenault (SIMCorp); Jessica Whitehead (NSDFA); Troy Lyons (NB–DELG); Betty House (ACFFA)

Collaborators: Betty House (ACFFA); Bob Sweeney (SIMCorp)

Contact: Monica.Lyons@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/projects-projets/M-13-01-001-eng.html

Sulfide probe, temperature probe, meter (left to right). Photo: Fred Page (DFO)

Sustainable Development of Offshore Bivalve Culture in the Magdalen Islands: Production Capacity and Interactions with Commercial Fisheries

To expand the shellfish industry in Québec, MAPAQ wishes to establish an offshore bivalve (mussel) culture site (15 to 25 m depth) in the Magdalen Islands.

There are concerns that the production carrying capacity (maximum harvest) will exceed the ecological carrying capacity (when ecological impacts become unacceptable), depleting plankton (food source for mussels) and producing excessive organic waste (feces). The interactions between offshore culture sites and commercially important wild species (lobster, rock crab, and winter flounder) are largely unknown, remaining a concern for local fisheries and industry stakeholders. This study investigates both concerns, along with the use of standard geochemical measures for monitoring the organic loading in the proposed offshore site.

This project supports the DFO objective of environmental performance. It found that modelling combined with in situ measurements showed that a stocking density of 2.5 times that of densities used in the existing farm site could be deployed in the entire proposed bivalve culture zone without going over the carrying capacity of Baie de Plaisance. The abundance of most animals (e.g., lobster, seastars, crabs, and flounder) was much greater in the farm than the areas around it. Lobster movement was followed throughout the spring/summer using telemetry. Lobster movements did not differ greatly between farm and surrounding areas other than the animals concentrating their movements in smaller areas within the farms. Although the communities living in sediments within the farm boundary differed slightly from those in sediments outside of the farm, geochemical measures showed no patterns.

Date: JUN. 2013–JUN. 2016

Funded by: DFO–Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (DFO–ACRDP)

Co-Funded by: Merinov; Société de Développement de l’Industrie Maricole Inc. (SODIM); University of Quebec– Rimouski (UQAR); University of Quebec–Chicoutimi (UQAC); Ressources Aquatiques Québec (RAQ)

Project Lead: Chris McKindsey (DFO)

Project Team: Philippe Archambault, Céline Audet (UQAR–ISMER); François Bourque, Madeleine Nadeau (Merinov); Pascal Sirois (UQAC); Luc Comeau, Andrea Weise (DFO)

Collaborators: Madeleine Nadeau (Merinov); Gilbert Scantland (SODIM); Philippe Archambault (UQAR); Pascal Sirois (UQAC)

Contact: Chris.McKindsey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/projects-projets/Q-13-01-001-eng.html

Developing the Benthic Component of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture to Reduce the Impact of Organic Nutrients from Fish Farms and Evolving Standard Operating Procedures

There is a desire and requirement for aquaculture sites to control the amount of organic loading that comes from commercial fish farms. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is an advanced ecological engineering technique that has been developing in Canada for over a decade on both the East and West Coasts. IMTA mimics a natural ecosystem by combining the farming of multiple, complementary species from different levels of the food chain in a way that allows a portion of the uneaten feed, wastes, nutrients, and by-products of one species to be recaptured and converted into fertilizer, feed, and energy for the growth of the other species.

Different trophic levels have different extraction efficiencies. The third extractive level of the IMTA food chain (benthic portion) needs further research to develop the suite of species and the structures for industry to adopt to viably reduce the environmental footprint for open water, marine aquaculture sites practicing IMTA. Specifically, this project will develop protocols for juvenile production, assess the organic particle capture efficiencies, scan for pathogens, and explore potential wild-farmed interactions. Three target species are being studied: Northern Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa), Green Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), and Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus). Results are showing the species can take up fish farm nutrients and experience significantly increased growth rates compared to their wild conspecifics.

The results of this project will provide some of the information required by the aquaculture industry to create effective Standard Operating Procedures to farm these species in a way that reduces the environmental impact of the site. It will also identify research areas that may be profitable for further biological or technological development.

This project supports the DFO objectives of environmental performance and optimal fish health.

Date: APR. 2014–JUN. 2017

Funded by: DFO–Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (DFO–ACRDP)

Co-Funded by: Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.

Project Lead: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Project Team: Terralynn Lander, Craig Smith (DFO)

Collaborators: Keng Pee Ang (KCS)

Contact: Shawn.Robinson@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/projects-projets/M-14-01-002-eng.html

Photograph of Northern Sea Cucumbers in the lab feeding actively on particles in the water. The feathery orange structures are the feeding tentacles that capture the food and put it into the mouth of the sea cucumber. Photo: Terralynn Lander (DFO)

Impact of Finfish Farms in Eastern Canada on Lobster Distribution and Condition

Organic waste from coastal net-pen fish farming may settle to the sea bottom close to farms, becoming a novel and attractive food source for wild animals. In addition, the physical structures associated with net-pens may act as artificial reefs and attract a variety of mobile predatory and scavenging species. Little work has addressed how such changes may have bottom-up effects that impact fisheries species. Impacts may not be restricted to aggregating animals around farm sites, but may also include impacts to wild fisheries due to altered productivity, distribution, or catchability of target species. Indeed, some fishers believe that lobsters congregate in aquaculture sites and thus deploy their traps immediately outside of farm sites whereas others avoid farms areas and do not consider these areas as high quality fishing grounds. Lobster is one of the most widely and intensively fished species in Eastern Canada and landings are at historically high levels. Concurrently, the production and the number of fish farms have also increased. Concerns about the influence of finfish aquaculture sites on lobster distribution and condition may create challenges for managers, especially if the lobster fishery faces challenges, such as shell disease or decreases in landings, in the coming years as scientific information on the subject is largely absent.

This project examines the spatial distribution and movement of lobster within and around finfish aquaculture sites to evaluate their association with fish farms areas. We will also evaluate how bottom-up effects induced by farm-related organic loading influences lobster condition.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2019

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Chris McKindsey (DFO)

Project Team: Rénald Belley, Andrew Cooper, Annick Drouin, Julien Gaudette, Frédéric Hartog, Peter Lawton, Shawn Robinson, Paul Robichaud, François Roy, Anne-Sara Sean, Émilie Simard (DFO)

Collaborators: Ocean Tracking Network (OTN); Rémy Rochette (UNB); Pierre Blier (UQAR); Keng Pee Ang (Cooke Aquaculture Inc.)

Contact: Chris.McKindsey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-Q-04-eng.html

A lobster fitted with an acoustic transmitter to follow their movements within and around salmon farms in southwest New Brunswick. Photo: Chris McKindsey (DFO)

Deployment of hydrophones around a salmon farm in Doctor’s Cove, southwest New Brunswick, to triangulate signals from acoustic transmitters to follow lobster movements. Photo: Émilie Simard (DFO)

Influence of Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Aquaculture Overwintering on Eelgrass (Zostera marina)

Shade produced by floating and off-bottom oyster bag culture has been shown to significantly impact the localized structure and productivity of eelgrass beds. Considering these results, the objective of the present study was to determine if the overwintering of oyster gear directly on eelgrass beds could produce results similar to those observed during the growing season. To test this hypothesis, we assessed impacts of overwintering practices in an experimental overwintering area and a 13-year-old active overwintering site. Overall, the results of our study suggest no apparent impacts of oyster overwintering practices on eelgrass beds. We recommend additional studies in other bays to assess potential impacts of this practice under different environmental conditions (i.e., different types of sediments) and also operations of other culturists. We hypothesize that light limitation may not impact mature eelgrass during the autumn and winter months because the oyster bags are placed on the bottom as the plants undergo a period of low/no photosynthetic activity.

Date: APR. 2012–APR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Simon Courtenay (DFO; U Waterloo)

Project Team: Monica Boudreau (DFO); Marc Skinner (Stantec Consulting Ltd.; Canadian Rivers Institute)

Collaborators: André Mallet (L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.)

Contact: simon.courtenay@uwaterloo.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2012-G-01-eng.html

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fallowing as a Mitigation Tool at Predominantly Hard-Bottom Aquaculture Sites in Newfoundland

Atlantic Salmon aquaculture sites in Newfoundland are located predominantly over hard ocean substrates where sediment samples are consistently difficult to obtain and require the use of visual imaging to monitor aquaculture impacts. Fallowing (leaving the site without fish) at the end of a production cycle is the primary mitigation measure to manage impacts from uneaten food and faeces. Optimal fallowing times and the factors that can influence the rate of benthic community recovery remain key knowledge gaps in the environmental management of the industry.

This project seeks to examine the recovery processes at predominantly hard-bottom aquaculture sites undergoing fallowing by evaluating how the fallowing duration influences the distribution of visual bioindicators of organic disposition such as bacterial mats and Opportunistic Polychaete Complexes (OPC). This study will also examine changes in the presence of flocculent matter and non-indicator species (epifauna) during fallowing. The biological basis for changes in the distribution of bacterial mats and OPC during fallowing will be examined to improve our understanding of the processes of benthic recovery in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region. The results will shed light on the degree of benthic recovery associated with various lengths of fallowing, the biological processes underlying OPC dynamics in association with organic matter degradation, and the effectiveness of fallowing as a mitigation strategy.

Date: APR. 2014–MAR. 2017

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Dounia Hamoutene (DFO)

Project Team: Kimberley Burt, Flora Salvo (DFO)

Collaborators: Suzanne Dufour (MUN); Robert Sweeney (SIMCorp)

Contact: Dounia.Hamoutene@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2014-NL-07-eng.html

Characterization of Pesticide Post-Deposit Exposure Zones

The finfish aquaculture industry within Canada can make use of pesticide bath treatments to manage sea lice infestations on netpen farmed salmon. Once each treatment is completed, the pesticide bath water is released into the ambient water where the pesticide is transported and diluted by the ambient hydrographic conditions. Non-target organisms and habitats within the spatial and temporal domain occupied by the pesticide may experience exposure to the pesticide. The deposition activities are authorized and guided by the Aquaculture Activity Regulations under the Fisheries Act. This project builds on earlier modelling and field work aimed at defining the exposure zones by refining vertical dispersion estimates and incorporating baroclinicity in the circulation models, and by exploring how model exposure zones vary with fish production husbandry factors such as treatment method, net pen size, and frequency of bath treatment. This project will also explore to what extent the zones include exposure of benthic environments. The work will be conducted in relation to salmon farming in the Bay of Fundy and will contribute to a foundation of knowledge that can be used to design a post-deposit pesticide monitoring approach. The work also complements other projects focused on biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter dispersal from fish farms.

Date: APR. 2016–MAR. 2019

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Fred Page (DFO)

Project Team: Susan Haigh, Yongshen Wu, Brent Law, Stacey Paul, Mitchell O’Flerhaty-Sproul, Sean Corrigan, Sarah Scouten, Monica Lyons, David Wong (DFO)

Collaborators: Michael Beattie (NBDAAF); Kevin Wickens (Health Canada)

Contact: Fred.Page@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2016-M-12-eng.html

Effects of Cage Aquaculture on Freshwater Benthic Communities

Cage aquaculture results in the release of organic matter to the lake with the greatest deposition under the cages. Organic matter deposition can lead to alterations of the benthic invertebrate populations exposed. Total abundance, richness, and biomass are classical proxies for benthic community succession during exposure to organic matter enrichment. Measures of total abundance, richness, and biomass of benthos from three commercial freshwater finfish aquaculture farms in Lake Huron were presented spatially to measure the net effect of aquaculture waste. In 2009 and 2012, sediment cores were collected from under the cages to 110 m distance away, as well as at six distant reference sites. Our data showed that total abundance, richness and biomass of benthos were suppressed under and in close proximity to the farm, while further afield invertebrate abundance and biomass of some taxa were elevated above reference values. We quantified the total biomass per m2 and initial results found that total biomass loss was comparable amongst all three farms. However, reference sites are the determinant for calculating the net gain or loss of benthic invertebrates at a farm and net biomass results differed among farms. Farm three measured a net gain as compared to the other two farms that experienced a smaller net loss. Net biomass is a simplistic metric and does not completely present the dynamic change in diversity or functional groups by benthic invertebrates. Rather, net biomass represents the recycling of energy from aquaculture farm waste into invertebrates and potentially to higher trophic levels like wild fish.

Date: APR. 2011–APR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Lead: Cheryl Podemski (DFO)

Project Team: Jian Zhang, Megan Otu (DFO)

Contact: Cheryl.Podemski@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2011-CA-07-eng.html

Comparing the Impact of Bottom and Suspended Oyster Culture on Bay-Scale Food Resources (Foxley/Trout River, PEI)

Bivalve aquaculture is extractive rather than fed and there is inherent sustainability assuming one can manage the limiting resource, i.e., phytoplankton. Oyster aquaculture is gradually evolving from a traditional use of the benthic environment (bottom culture) to a novel use of the three-dimensional water column (suspended culture). Both industry and regulators recognize the need to evaluate the ecological impact of growing oysters in the water column. Specifically, the project addressed three objectives: 1) assessing the bottom vs. suspended oysters diet overlap; 2) determining filtration rates of oysters from the two culture types (bottom and suspended); and 3) incorporating the latter results into a simple bay-scale model and quantify the impact of different culture scenarios on available food resources. The 2013-2014 results on quantitative comparison of suspended and bottom oyster culture in PEI suggested that a transition from bottom to suspended culture results in an actual reduction in oyster stock densities and grazing rates.

Date: APR. 2012–APR. 2015

Funded by: DFO–Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (DFO–PARR)

Project Leads: Luc Comeau, Rémi Sonier (DFO)

Project Team: Réjean Tremblay (UQAR-ISMER)

Contact: Luc.Comeau@dfo-mpo.gc.ca, Remi.Sonier@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/rp-pr/parr-prra/projects-projets/2012-G-05-eng.html

Bottom cultured oyster (Foxley, PEI). Photo: Luc Comeau (DFO)

Floating cages for suspended oyster culture (Foxley, PEI). Photo: Luc Comeau (DFO)