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Sea duck predation on mussel seed can cause significant financial losses to the revenue of a mussel farm. Mussel seed deployed in the fall in biodegradable cotton sleeving becomes vulnerable to sea duck predation after 2-3 weeks. Indian Point Marine Farms (IPMF) uses a non-biodegradable synthetic mesh to protect against sea duck predation. The process of deploying mussel seed in the fall is relatively efficient because of a highly mechanized continuous sleeving approach. However, the process of recovering the seed from inside the synthetic mesh can be laborious and would benefit from mechanization. This project aimed at designing, constructing and field testing a conveyor system that would transfer continuous mussel sleeving into the barge with minimal losses due to fall-off and a mussel seed stripper that would mechanically recover the mussel seed deployed inside the protective synthetic mesh. Our goal was to achieve a harvest rate of 1500lbs of seed per hour, or one full longline, which would represent a 5 fold increase over the manual harvesting approach.
The conveyor proved to be extremely useful in the harvest of market-size mussels, in particular when the mussels are covered with tunicates. The reduction in the loss of market-size mussels during harvesting will translate into higher revenues and lower production costs for the company. However, the mussel seed stripper, did not work as well as expected. There were two major reasons for this failure: the lower tensile strength of the mesh after being soaked in seawater for several months, and the clogging of the cutting wheel with the mesh. From a production perspective, it is estimated that a commercial harvest rate of 1500lbs per hour can be achieved as long as the continuous rope is densely-packed with mussel seed and these seed show a high survival rate. We believe that changing the non-biodegradable socking material to a stronger, all synthetic material would allow much greater efficiencies in seed recovery as the material could then be mechanically pulled away from the seed without continually breaking This will lead to improved production systems and increased operational efficiency.
Project Lead: Indian Point Marine Farm
Total Project Cost: $84,280
DFO-AIMAP Contribution: $60,000
Other Financial Support:
For more information, please contact the regional coordinator:
Maritimes Region Coordinator, Cindy.Webster@dfo-mpo.gc.ca