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Simple model estimations of bay-scale ecological carrying capacity for suspended mussel culture



A simplified model formulation is available that has proven useful for the preliminary assessment of bay-scale carrying capacity. This approach targets the most important aspects of the carrying capacity calculation, which supply and remove phytoplankton in a water body under enhanced shellfish grazing pressure. These are the time it takes for a given bivalve population to filter the bay volume (clearance time), the time needed for tides to flush a bay and re-supply external food sources (residence time), and the time required for phytoplankton growth to replace internal food resources (phytoplankton doubling time). Calculations will use existing data for multiple major shellfish culture embayments in Canada, and the results will be expressed as an index of ecological carrying capacity. These calculations have proven to be a useful tool for identifying potentially problematic aquaculture sites so that further research and detailed modeling programs can be deployed. The focus of this project is on mussel aquaculture owing to their relatively high biomass per unit area and their access to food supplies throughout the water column.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)


2011 - 2014


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Peter Cranford
1 Challenger Drive, Dartmouth, NS
Tel.: (902) 426-3277

Team Member(s)

Terri Sutherland, DFO-Pacific region

Luc Comeau, DFO-Gulf region

Gehan Mabrouk, DFO-Newfoundland region

Chris McKindsey, DFO-Quebec region

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