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Workshop: Research and Monitoring Requirements to Optimize Shellfish Production



In Canada, both the recreational and commercial harvesting of shellfish is regulated by the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), a program that is jointly administered by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Its main objective is to protect the public from the consumption of contaminated shellfish. Over the past decade, there has been a growing consensus amongst the aquaculture stakeholders that the CSSP unnecessarily curtails the Canadian production of certain shellfish species. In Atlantic Canada, this view was reinforced recently following a harmful bloom of phytoplankton. In the spring of 2002, the presence of domoic acid in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence resulted in unacceptable levels of the toxic domoic acid in the blue mussel. The continued monitoring of this sentinel species was the basis for a full and lengthy harvest closure directed at all shellfish species. Yet, there were indications that domoic acid in oysters remained undetectable during the spring bloom event. These differences led oyster growers to question why they were not allowed to harvest their uncontaminated product.

European countries, characterized by a long historical background in shellfish aquaculture, have faced similar challenges in the past. France, in particular, has developed several monitoring networks to address both optimum production issues and public safety concerns. Also, some monitoring approaches are fundamentally different than those found in Canada (e.g. the monitoring of bacterial counts in the shellfish product instead of in the surrounding waters). French monitoring networks include the:

  • Réseau de Surveillance Microbiologique (REMI)
  • Réseau de Surveillance du Phytoplancton et des Phycotoxines (REPHY)
  • Réseau sur la Pathologie des Mollusques (REPAMO)
  • Réseau Mollusques des Rendements Aquacoles (REMORA)
  • Réseau National d'Observation (RNO)

In keeping with the above information, the Professional Shellfish Growers Association of New Brunswick (PSGANB) believes that the time has come to reconsider a number of specific elements in the Canadian monitoring programs. These elements fall into three categories:

  1. toxic algae blooms [management by species],
  2. bacterial contamination [tissue analysis vs. water analysis], and
  3. farm/bay productivity [carrying capacity].

The workshop will gather national and international experts, who will focus on identifying the research requirements for:

  1. optimizing current monitoring programs in Canada, and
  2. developing new monitoring networks where required.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2003 - 2004



Principal Investigator(s)

Denise Méthé

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