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Characterization of interactions between mussel aquaculture and adult American lobsters



Understanding the influence of mussel culture sites on the distribution and condition of lobsters is an important question for managers who evaluate requests for new mussel farms, as there is limited scientific information on the subject. Additionally, it is widely perceived by lobster fishers that lobsters that congregate around aquaculture sites may become sedentary and are therefore less available to the lobster fishery. Known environmental interactions between mussel (and other shellfish) aquaculture include water column-related effects on plankton and nutrients because of mussel filter-feeding, as well as localized effects on infaunal (benthic) communities from increased organic loading on the seafloor. In the case of suspended mussel culture, organic loading comes from faeces and pseudofaeces (biodeposition) from large quantities of mussels, and from organisms that grow on them that fall from the suspended culture structures as they grow. As well, the physical structures of aquaculture equipment also provide potential habitat for organisms that need solid substrate to grow, which may attract a variety of predatory and scavenging species. As a result, there may be ecological effects because of changes in the productivity, distribution, or catchability of target (fishery) species.

The goal of this project is to describe the extent and effect of interactions between mussel aquaculture activities and adult American lobsters, including the spatial distribution and movement of lobsters within and around mussel aquaculture sites, and their availability to the fishery. The influence of mussel aquaculture on the condition of lobsters and their diet will also be evaluated. The results of the study will help Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) aquaculture managers make scientifically sound decisions in support of ecologically and economically sustainable aquaculture.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)


2015 - 2018


Atlantic: Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence Estuary

Principal Investigator(s)

Chris McKindsey
Research Scientist, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne
850, route de la Mer, Mont-Joli, Québec

Team Member(s)

Luc Comeau

Catherine Couillard

Annick Drouin

François Roy

Paul Robichaud

Jonathan Hill

Émilie Simard

Anne-Sara Sean

John Davidson

Collaborative Partner(s)

Ocean Tracking Network (OTN)

Philippe Archambault, ISMER, QC

Jeffrey Davidson, University of Prince Edward Island, PEI

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