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Comparison of the health and condition of cultured mussels from deep and shallow water sites in Newfoundland with reference to environmental conditions, condition index, physiological stress and lipid biochemistry



The Newfoundland mussel culture industry is poised to undergo a period of significant expansion in production due to increased utilization of existing approved culture sites as well as the development of new sites. Mussels are typically cultured in sheltered near shore areas (river mouths, estuaries, harbours and shallow bays); however, these sites can be negatively affected by land run-off, especially during times of significant precipitation, exposing mussels to land-based contaminants. Benthic deposition (i.e. mussel drop off, faecal material and rejected particles known as pseudo-faeces) and increased pressure for lease space in these areas has raised concerns regarding the ecological carrying capacity and sustainability of coastal shallow water culture sites. Recent interest in the development of offshore deep water bivalve culture could potentially reduce many of the issues associated with near-shore sites. Deep water offshore sites show less benthic impacts by deposition, higher chlorophyll concentrations, and experience natural upwelling events which can bring additional nutrients and particles into the water column. Offshore sites offer a combination of a concentrated food source and potentially greater water quality which should support improved culture conditions and a corresponding decrease in animal stress, ultimately improving mussel condition and health. This project will characterize and compare seasonal changes in environmental conditions in offshore deep water and standard coastal shallow water mussel culture sites in Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland. Researchers will investigate potential correlations with mussel condition, physiological stress indicators and lipid biochemistry to determine the environmental sustainability of each culture site.

Ecological Carrying Capacity: is the highest stocking density that can be cultured without compromising other components of the ecosystem (for example: phytoplankton depletion)

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2012 - 2015


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Harry Murray

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