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Characterization of the possible spread of an exogenous strain of cultivated sweet kelp originating from Bonaventure broodstock on the Gaspé Peninsula around the algoculture sites of Purmer (Baie des Sept Îles) and the MMAFMA (Paspébiac Bay)



The cultivation of sweet kelp on longlines at sea requires the use of seedlings from algae harvested in the wild. Currently, all of Quebec’s seaweed processing companies use seedlings from Bonaventure’s broodstock on the Gaspé Peninsula and on the North Shore. Although producers are attempting to harvest the seaweed before the development of fertile spores, the introduction of new genetic strains into the natural environment around seaweed cultivation sites is likely, as seedlings fall off during bad weather because of frequent movement of the longlines.

This project aimed to investigate the introduction of Bonaventure strain on various sites in Quebec, such as the Sept-Îles and Paspébiac sites, and to study the release of the Bonaventure strains far from the original site.


Kelp was harvested in 15 locations in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Samples were genetically analyzed using genomic and microsatellite techniques. These two techniques indicated low genetic diversity and high connectivity in sweet kelp populations across all of the study sites in Quebec. The risk of genetic alteration occurring during the transport of algae from Bonaventure to Sept-Îles is low. Furthermore, using kelp from Bonaventure in aquaculture operations in Sept-Îles seems to present no problems from the standpoint of potential impacts on sustainability, diversity, the economy or the ecosystem. This study suggests that cultivating kelp from Bonaventure in various locations in Quebec poses little risk.

Program name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)



Principal investigator

Rénald Belley, biologist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Quebec Region

Team members

  • Isabelle Gendron-Lemieux, industrial researcher and Coordinator, Merinov
  • Mathilde Lemoine, Program Support, Merinov
  • Marie-Pierre Turcotte, mariculture technician, Merinov
  • France Dufresne, population genetics researcher, UQAR
  • Frédérique Paquin, researcher, UQAR


  • Marie-Hélène Rondeau, biologist coordinator, The Mi’gmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association (MMAFMA)
  • Sandra Blais, manager, Ferme Maricole Purmer
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