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Development of monitoring and assessment tools for adaptive management of salmon aquaculture relative to sensitive marine invertebrate habitat



This two year research project stemmed from approval of two salmon aquaculture sites on the New Brunswick mainland within known juvenile lobster nursery areas. This project is nested within an expanded benthic environmental monitoring and husbandry documentation program sponsored by the site proponents, the New Brunswick Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to meet Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans marine habitat policy objectives at these sites. The research component of the project involved a fruitful collaboration between staff from DFO, NBSGA, participating salmon farms, provincial and federal regulatory agencies and third party contract entities.

For general application, the research objectives address the following questions:

  1. What is the effect of cage production on (a) habitat characteristics conducive to juvenile lobster occupation, and (b) juvenile lobster density?
  2. Are there any new methods that can be used to monitor the effects of cage aquaculture on lobster populations through use of proxy measures (e.g. associated physical or physio-chemical habitat variables, or components of the benthic fauna associated with lobsters)?

Four sub-areas at each aquaculture site (a Potential Zone of Impact, and three Control Areas) were selected which contained sedimentary environments for physio-chemical sampling, and complex bottom areas providing suitable substrates for juvenile lobster settlement and growth. Additional project components include ocean current characterization of point locations within each sub-area.

Detailed substrate interpretations were made of each sub-area based on sidescan sonar images, diving and remote video transects. Juvenile lobster densities were subsequently estimated by suction sampling in autumn 2001 and 2002. A continuation of lobster population sampling was undertaken in 2003 using additional funding sources to help resolve uncertainties in settlement signals documented in 2002. Preparation of final technical reports is currently underway.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2001 - 2005


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Peter Lawton

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