Language selection


Exploration of methodologies for environmental effects monitoring of finfish aquaculture sites in sandy bottom environments with natural disturbances: Shelburne, N.S.

PARR 2012-M-06


The effect that aquaculture waste material (feed and faeces), generated by finfish operations, may have on the environment beneath open netpen sites is a concern both for regulators and industry and is closely regulated in all areas of Canada. Existing regulatory modelling tools (DEPOMOD) and sampling techniques (cores and light weight grabs) used to predict and monitor waste deposition and benthic impacts have generally been developed for use in areas with muddy bottoms. Questions have been raised about the applicability of these tools with different substrates, such as rocky or sandy bottoms, or if they need to be refined for use in these areas.

Shelburne, Nova Scotia is a developing aquaculture area where the benthic environment is sandy and highly disturbed and as such, the benthic cores and grabs usually used for regulatory sampling do not work well. Additionally, modelling deposition in this area is challenging because very limited benthic and oceanographic information is available to calibrate models and the dynamic environment requires that models account for the resuspension and movement of deposited wastes.

The purpose of this project is to test several benthic sampling approaches (grab samplers, ROVs, still image and video camera systems, acoustic echo sounder and side-scan sonar systems) to identify the best method for regulatory environmental sampling in dynamic, sandy bottom areas. Oceanographic conditions including water currents, wave activity, and water column profiling will be monitored during the fall-winter disturbance season to improve modelling predictions. As well, a benthic characterization study will be conducted to better categorize the benthic environment (e.g., sediment grain size, organic matter, sulphide content).

Results from this research will contribute to a better understanding of the limitations of existing sampling methods and models and provide a basis for future research focused on the development of monitoring and modelling approaches in sandy bottom environments. Information generated by this study will guide regulators in making siting decisions and aid in the design and implementation of monitoring programs in sandy environments.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)


2012 - 2014


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Blythe Chang
Research Biologist, Coastal Oceanography an d Ecosystem Research
St. Andrews Biological Station, St. Andrews, N.B. E5B 2L9
Tel.: (506) 529-5907

Fred Page
Research Scientist, Head of Coastal Oceanography and Ecosystem Research
St. Andrews Biological Station, St. Andrews, N.B. E5B 2L9
Tel.: (506) 529-5935

Team Member(s)

Mark McLean, DFO-BIO-Maritimes Region

Ed Parker, DFO-BIO-Maritimes Region

Randy Losier, DFO-SABS-Maritimes Region

Brent Law, DFO-BIO-Maritimes Region

Herb Vandermuelen, DFO-SABS-Maritimes Region

Sara Scouten, DFO-SABS-Maritimes Region

Collaborative Partner(s)

Mike Szemerda, Cooke Aquaculture

Date modified: