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Passive protection of mussel production through use of exclusion cages to prevent duck predation in the Gaspé (QC)



Migrating ducks that feed on farmed mussels are the cause of significant economic losses for the mussel aquaculture industry, and current deterrent systems are becoming increasingly ineffective at keeping the ducks away. The aquaculture industry in Chaleur Bay, Québec normally uses self-regulating mussel collector techniques. It is believed that mussels grown in this way would be best protected from diving ducks by deploying a passive, physical deterrent system of underwater duck exclusion cages around the mussels.

The project aims to develop protective cage prototypes made with common and locally available materials to keep costs as low as possible. It will determine the optimal type of netting to prevent duck bycatch and biofouling, while measuring the effectiveness of the exclusion cages in preventing duck predation compared to the traditional methods used for self-regulating mussel collectors.

The results of this project will increase the knowledge surrounding diving duck predation on mussel farms in Québec (and elsewhere) and how this impact may be responsibly mitigated while adhering to the Migratory Birds Convention Act (1994). The results will also economically improve the standing of the Québec mussel industry and provide the industry and authorized management bodies with effective and conservation-oriented mitigation tools, thus benefitting the mussel aquaculture industry as a whole to better understand and mitigate potential wild-farmed interactions concerning duck predation to improve the sustainability of the shellfish culture industry.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2015 - 2017

Principal Investigator(s)

Chris McKindsey
Researcher, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Québec Region

Team Member(s)

Andréa Weise, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Québec Region

François Roy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Québec Region

Annick Drouin, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Québec Region

Élisabeth Varennes, University of Québec at Rimouski

Collaborative Partner(s)

Éric Bujold, La Ferme Maricole du Grand Large

Manon Deslauriers, Moules Tracadigash Inc.

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