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Impact of finfish farms in eastern Canada on lobster distribution and condition



Organic waste from coastal net-pen fish farming may settle to the sea bottom close to farms, becoming a novel and attractive food source for wild stocks. In addition, the physical structures associated with net-pens may act as artificial reefs and attract a variety of mobile predatory and scavenging species. Little work has addressed how such changes may have bottom-up effects that impact fisheries species. Impacts may not be restricted to aggregating animals around farm sites, but may also include impacts to wild fisheries due to altered productivity, distribution, or catchability of target species. Indeed, some fishers believe that lobsters congregate in aquaculture sites and thus deploy their traps immediately outside of farm sites whereas others avoid farms areas and do not consider these areas as high quality fishing grounds. Lobster is one of the most widely and intensively fished species in eastern Canada and landings are at historically high levels. Concurrently, the number of fish farms and production has also increased. Concerns about the influence of finfish aquaculture sites on lobster distribution and condition may create challenges for managers, especially if the lobster fishery faces challenges, such as shell disease or decreases in landings, in the coming years as scientific information on the subject is largely absent. This project will examine the spatial distribution and movement of lobster within and around finfish aquaculture sites to evaluate their association with fish farms areas. We will also evaluate how bottom-up effects induced by farm-related organic loading influences lobster condition.






Lobster and aquaculture: Studying interactions on Canada's East Coast

Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)


2016 - 2019

Principal Investigator

Chris McKindsey
Research Scientist, Maurice Lamontagne Institute

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