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Commercial-Scale Testing of IMTA in Coastal British Columbia



While the concept of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) has been demonstrated to represent a viable aquaculture development option for Canada, tests of system performance (engineering design, operational logistics, environmental - species/production balance, social issues, economic viability) have not been thoroughly evaluated at a commercial scale. The present ACRDP project is therefore intended to assist with the acquisition of detailed data necessary to evaluate a number of IMTA development and operational aspects (design, operational performance) at our recently licensed (Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd. - KSL) IMTA farm site, and represents a component (3 specific projects) of a much larger research and commercialization initiative.

Loss of organic wastes from a finfish farm will be dispersed both horizontally (downstream) as well as vertically (beneath the cages). Design of an effective IMTA system will require a selection of species that will not only intercept these waste streams (particulate and dissolved forms), but will be cultured at densities that will maximize waste uptake/use continuously over the finfish production cycle (period of waste generation). A number of issues/problems arise in attempting to satisfy these basic IMTA system requirements within the context of a commercial IMTA system - 3 specific research questions will be addressed by the current ACRDP proposal:

  1. Can sea cucumbers be used to capitalize on the settleable organic solids generated by the fish component, and how can the infrastructure be designed/engineered so as to be operationally independent of the fish component?
  2. Can a steel netcage system be modified to allow a greater depth range to be used by the shellfish component (and hence weight) than that capable through traditional wooden rafts?
  3. Can kelp seed be introduced over an entire year to ensure that the dissolved nutrient component (inorganic nitrogen) of the IMTA system supports a continuous and commercially viable production stream?

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2007 - 2009


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Chris Pearce

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