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A commercial strategy for minimizing fouling and maximizing production in floating bag oyster culture: an opportunity for the development of Best Management Practices



Aquaculture of the American oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Atlantic Canada has grown significantly in the past decade, largely as a result of the development of suspended bag culture. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, oyster production has increased from approximately 2,500 t in 1994 to 5,000 t in 2004 (Canadian Aquaculture Production Statistics). The oyster aquaculture industry is now poised for a new period of expansion and growth. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), in collaboration with the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Aquaculture (DAFA), are presently developing plans and policies to address the anticipated requests for future aquaculture sites from industry.

The recent DFO National Advisory Process on the environmental effects of shellfish aquaculture elucidated many of the important knowledge gaps concerning suspended oysters and their potential effects on the environment. One perceived source of organic matter which may contribute to an environmental impact is the accumulation of fouling organisms on the equipment. If not managed appropriately, this fouling assemblage may contribute substantially to the level of biodeposition, both in terms of faecal matter as well as fall-off during maintenance and harvesting.

Typically, shellfish growers develop their husbandry methods on an independent basis through trial and error while endeavoring to optimize the productivity of their leases. Unfortunately, they are currently lacking the appropriate information to assist them in the development of techniques which are both cost effective and environmentally sustainable.

The aim of this project is to increase the state of knowledge with regard to the farm management of floating bags in order to improve productivity and minimize environmental impacts. The overall objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between bag turning frequency, fouling levels, organic sedimentation rates and oyster quality.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2006 - 2007


Atlantic: Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence Estuary

Principal Investigator(s)

Matthew Hardy

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