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Development of husbandry protocols for the sustainable culture of wolf eels (Anarrhichthys ocellatus)



Wolf eels are blennioid fish, unique to the Pacific Northwest. Their eel-like shape can be exploited in the Asian live fish markets (in Greater Vancouver), because these markets demand eel shaped fish - a market demand that cannot be met because anguillid eels can no longer be imported. There is no legal fishery, which has resulted in illegal poaching in order to meet these market needs. Clearly, this is unacceptable and alternative approaches such as aquaculture are needed.

The wolf eel can be considered an ideal candidate for aquaculture, for both economic and biological reasons. For example, wolf eels are relatively sedentary, disease resistant, are large sized at birth, and have high survival rates. Dr. Marliave has been conducting research at the Vancouver Aquarium, to develop and document the life history and culture methods for wolf eels since the 1980's. He has been successful in breeding wolf eels in captivity several times, and since 2005 has been collaborating with Dr. Balfry to increase our knowledge on the health and growth of cultured wolf eels. The husbandry protocols used at the Vancouver Aquarium and the Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research however, are not appropriate for the intensive culture of wolf eels because they have not been developed with the goal of developing methods to develop protocols that can enable an economically viable aquaculture operation. In summary, wolf eels are both biologically and economically capable of achieving market success.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2009 - 2011


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Jerry Corriveau

S. Balfry

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