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A tool for assessing the maximum sustainable production levels of blue mussels and eastern oysters in PEI



In Prince Edward Island (PEI), oyster aquaculture is gradually evolving from the traditional use of the benthic, on-bottom culture to suspended, off-bottom culture. From a farming perspective, there are several advantages to suspending oyster stocks in the upper water column, such as protecting stocks from losses by benthic predators. From an ecological point of view, the removal of phytoplankton by farmed oysters must not surpass the capacity of the ecosystem to replenish the supply of phytoplankton, since this could result in adverse conditions for other grazers, such as zooplankton and wild shellfish, in the system. Growing oysters in suspended culture can increase the efficiency of an oyster to consume phytoplankton from the water column. Carrying capacity indicators take into account the bivalve-phytoplankton trophic interaction and consequently they are useful for initial assessment of maximum sustainable production of bivalves. PARR-2018-G-02 will investigate aspects of carrying capacity parameterization that are poorly understood. In particular, PARR-2018-G-02 will focus on the functioning of aggregate oysters in the floating oyster bag (or cage) and determine the rates of primary production in key bays where oyster farming development may occur. Using this new information, the capacity of future farm bivalves to pump water (Clearance Time, CT) will be compared against the capacity of the systems to replenish the phytoplankton (Primary Production Time, PT). Results will provide insight into sustainable bivalve production levels for aquaculture managers in PEI.





Program Name

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)



Principal investigator

Luc Comeau
Research scientist, 343 Université Ave., Moncton, NB, E1C 5K4

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