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Study of fecal coliform dynamics in relation to environmental change and their impact on the shellfish industry



The Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) controls the commercial and recreational harvesting of all shellfish in Canada and classifies coastal areas according to water and shellfish quality. The key indicator used to determine whether the water quality is acceptable for shellfish harvesting is fecal coliform concentrations. These levels of concentrations indicate the potential presence of pathogens that are harmful to human health.

In a number of our coastal estuaries and bays, these levels are often exceeded and shellfish harvesting and aquaculture are often prohibited. However most of these closed or conditionally approved areas are highly productive and have a good potential for shellfish aquaculture. The CSSP, which originally dealt mainly with fisheries, is currently showing gaps in its efficiency proving deficient in managing a growing shellfish aquaculture industry.

The primary objective of this research and development project is to expand our understanding of the dynamics of the vertical distribution of fecal coliform in three compartments: the water column; sediment; and oysters cultured on the bottom and in floating bags. This distribution will also be evaluated according to seasonal variations in environmental and meteorological conditions. A secondary objective is to compare contamination and decontamination rates between two species of shellfish, namely the Blue Mussel and the American Oyster. Finally, sources of potential bacterial contamination in the areas under study will also be evaluated.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2003 - 2005


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Marc Ouellette

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