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Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2011


Automated oyster grading equipment for the BC shellfish processing industry

Separately graded product ready for shipping

Currently, shellfish processors in Canada grade millions of oysters individually, by hand. Given the volume of oyster production in BC alone, this system is inefficient and inconsistent. New mechanized grading technology has been developed overseas and promises significant benefits, including increased productivity, reduced labour cost, reduced labour effort, and a more consistently graded product.

This project involved the early adoption of mechanized grading technology that can lead to improved industry wide productivity, elevated grading standards and quality assurance for BC shellfish. Results using the new technology have exceeded the proponent's expectations. The automated grading equipment has increased production by nearly three times the amount possible with hand-grading, concurrent with a 65 percent decrease in production costs and steady overhead and labour costs. This translates into increased profitability, by an order of magnitude, and increased employee job satisfaction. The new 3D imaging technology has provided higher grading standards and increased consistency.

Markets demand consistency in product quality and the ability to make regular shipments; many markets will only accept product if there can be a promise of regular, high volume deliveries. This sustainability project sets a benchmark for oyster processing in Canada and positions the industry to respond to these market needs.

Mar. 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), Odyssey Shellfish Ltd.
Project team: Keith Reid (President of Odyssey Shellfish Ltd.), Derek Diedricksen (Forbidden Alloy Products Ltd.), David McCallum (BC Shellfish Growers Association), S.E.D.Shellfish Equipment Pty Ltd.
Contact: Keith Reid ( •

New clam harvesting technology

Clam digging technology in BC lags behind other parts of the world, where mechanical harvesters have been employed for decades. In BC, beaches are still dug manually with long-tined rakes. Clam growers struggle to attract workers to harvest clams because of the labour intensive nature of the work and uncertain wages.

To demonstrate the benefits of mechanical harvesting, the BC Shellfish Growers Association designed and built an adapted mechanical clam harvester. The Mark II harvester is now in use on BC clam growing beaches.

The Mark II harvests more clams, in less time, with fewer workers. The machine can harvest large beaches 2-3 times faster than manual harvesting, with one to two workers, compared to fifteen to sixteen workers with manual harvesting. Additionally, it harvests low density beach areas, and reduces losses from juvenile clam mortalities. An environmental impact study showed that the harvester's impact was no greater than manual harvesting.

As a result, mechanical clam harvesting technology is now available to clam growers in BC. This allows clam growers in the province to achieve significant productivity increases and provides a competitive advantage in the market place. The Mark II is an example of technical excellence aimed at sustainable resource use.

Apr. 2009 – Aug. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), BC Salmon Growers Association (BCSGA)
Project team: Roberta Stevenson (Executive Director BCSGA), David McCallum (BCSGA), Chris Baker (Taylor Shellfish Ltd.), Derek Deidricksen (Forbidden Alloy Products Ltd.)
Contact: Roberta Stevenson ( •

Basket Cockle: a new aquaculture species in BC?

Could the indigenous Basket Cockle (Clinocardium nuttallii) become a new aquaculture species in British Columbia? To answer this question, a research project was recently completed with a grant from DFO-ACRDP, and co-funded by CSR and Evening Cove Oysters Ltd. Through a series of laboratory and field experiments, the feasibility of cockle aquaculture was assessed. An emphasis was placed on seed growth performance and qualities affecting final product marketability.

The effects of stocking density and substratum on seed survival and growth during the nursery phase were examined initially. The research then evaluated the combined effects of culture mode (intertidal and off-bottom suspended culture) and initial stocking density on cockle survival, growth, and condition during the first and second grow-out years. Finally, the effects of culture depth on cockle survival and growth in suspended culture were tested.

Depending on the grow-out mode, stocking density, and minimum harvestable size chosen, the cumulative harvestable proportion after the second year of growout constituted 15.5 to 63.1% of the initial seed planted. These values may be improved through further refinements of cockle grow-out techniques and/or tailored to the particular conditions of specific grow-out sites by the industry.

Aug. 2008 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), CSR and Evening Cove Oysters Ltd.
Project team: Helen Gurney-Smith (CSR-VIU), Chris Pearce (DFO - PBS), Anya Epelbaum (CSR-VIU; presently DFO), Nadia Plamondon (CSR-VIU), Simon Yuan (CSR-VIU)
Contact: Helen Gurney-Smith (, Chris Pearce ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

The Basket Cockle, Clinocardium nuttallii: live; shucked, grown in an off-bottom suspended system (note high soft-tissue biomass; meat yield =40%)

An assessment of the genetic and health status of the native Basket Cockle, in BC

The Basket Cockle, Clinocardium nuttallii, occurs on the Pacific coast of North America from San Diego to the Bering Sea. It occurs in sandy and muddy shores around the whole coast of British Columbia, and is therefore found in all five current shellfish transfer zones used by the regulatory bodies. Currently there is significant commercial interest in the Basket Cockle, due to their relatively rapid growth rate, ability to utilize different substrates, adaptation to the cold waters of British Columbia (BC), and their importance as a preferred First Nations food group. Previous research has supplied information on the broodstock, fertilization, hatchery, and initial on-growing stages. These earlier studies further emphasized the commercial aquaculture possibilities for this species.

The objective of this study is to comprehensively assess the genetic and health status of cockle populations throughout BC. Microsatellite markers will be designed and implemented, along with full health analysis for OIE-listed and regional diseases of concern. This information will be used to assist in the development of geographically species-specific management plans, which incorporate any potential genetic and disease transfer implications. This will aid in promoting cockle aquaculture in BC in a sustainable and ecologically responsible manner.

The Basket Cockle, Clinocardium nuttallii

Nov. 2010 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), We Wai Kai Nation, Aboriginal Aquaculture Association, Centre for Shellfish Research
Project team: Helen Gurney-Smith (Centre for Shellfish Research), Ruth Withler (DFO), Cathryn Abbott (DFO), Stewart Johnson (DFO), Shawn O'Connor (We Wai Kai Nation), Odd Grydeland (Aboriginal Aquaculture Association)
Contact: Helen Gurney-Smith (, Ruth Withler ( • /aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.html

Aquaculture husbandry practices and the genetic diversity of blue mussel populations

Selective breeding is commonplace in agricultural domestic plants and animals and has been used for hundreds to thousands of years to improve yields. This study examined how routine aquaculture practices and trait selection (quantitative and qualitative) may influence genetic diversity and what the implications are for future broodstock programs.

Multiple measures of genetic diversity were taken, including heterozygosity, from the Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) in three aquaculture populations in British Columbia (BC) and a wild population from its native range in Prince Edward Island.

Population analysis revealed that there were significant numbers of hybrids among the blue mussel and the other species in the BC aquaculture populations. The degree of hybridization and species complex observed was dependant on the aquaculture population tested. Genetic analysis determined that while there was a decrease in the genetic diversity between wild and aquaculture populations, there were also significant differences among the aquaculture populations. This may be related to broodstock development and husbandry processes, or might result from the randomness of genetic drift. Levels of heterozygosity (positively correlated to overall animal health and resilience) were similar in wild and aquaculture populations, which may be a transient condition after a genetic bottleneck occurs or a product of hatchery practices.

May 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Blue Frontier Investment Inc., Island Sea Farms Inc., Taylor Shellfish Canada, CSR
Project team: Helen Gurney-Smith (Centre for Shellfish Research), Cathryn Abbott (DFO)
Contact: Helen Gurney-Smith (, Cathryn Abbott ( • /aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.html

Pacific Golden Mussel™

Research uncovers potential for Purple Sea Urchin culture in BC

In the development of aquaculture of any new species one of the major obstacles to overcome is the production of healthy juveniles. Although information about the reproductive cycle and spawning of potential commercial species of sea urchins is readily available, information about larval culture and juvenile grow-out is still scarce, especially for the Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus). This research will concentrate on broodstock conditioning and larval rearing of the Purple Sea Urchin, a potential new candidate for aquaculture development in British Columbia. Specifically, research is focusing on the effects of various feeds (kelps and prepared diets) and temperature on gonad production and the effects of different natural feeds, feed rations, stocking densities, and temperatures on growth and the survival of larvae.

Adult Purple Sea Urchins being held as broodstock

Sept. 2006 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: Ontario Student Assistance Program, DFO
Project team: Chris Pearce (DFO-PBS), Scott McKinley (UBC), Kalam Azad (UBC)
Contact: Chris Pearce (

BC team studies nutritional requirements for sustainable crayfish aquaculture

Research is currently underway investigating the nutritional requirements and digestive physiology of juvenile Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) in intensive aquaculture. Crustaceans make excellent candidates for aquaculture because they have high feed-conversion efficiencies and many are omnivorous and respond well to plant-based diets. The suitability of Signal Crayfish in aquaculture has been well established in Europe. Little is known, however, about their nutritional requirements for optimal growth, and there have been few attempts to culture them in their native range, which extends to southern British Columbia.

Understanding the nutritional requirements, energetics, and digestive capabilities of Signal Crayfish will provide a framework for assessing the suitability of locally-available, inexpensive, and ecologically-sustainable feed ingredients. The results of this study will provide valuable information for the development of crayfish aquaculture in Canada and serve as a basis for the development of other new species of crustaceans in aquaculture.

Crayfish aquaculture has the potential to provide economic stimulus with little or no detrimental effects or even a net positive effect on the environment. Accordingly, research is also underway to investigate the potential for Signal Crayfish to serve as a biological weed-control agent in eutrophic ponds such as those found on many golf courses.

Apr. 2010 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Cordova Bay Golf Course
Project team: Chris Pearce (DFO), Dan Curtis (DFO), Zeljko Djuric (Asturia Aquaculture Crayfish Consulting), David Groves (Broken Briar Enterprises Ltd.), Dean Piller (Cordova Bay Golf Course)
Contact: Chris Pearce ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Assessing potential benthic impacts of intertidal and subtidal Geoduck Clam harvest

There has been widespread interest in the culture of the Pacific Geoduck Clam (Panopea generosa) in British Columbia (BC) for a number of years, but the commercial-scale development of this species has been hindered by a lack of governmental policy/legislation and concerns around how geoduck culture and harvest may impact the environment. These concerns are generally focused on the harvesting process, as high-volume water jets ("stingers") are used to liquefy the substratum around the clams in order to extract them. It should be noted that this technique is not just isolated to aquaculturists, as it is also the method used in the wild Geoduck Clam fishery. This research project aims to assess the effects of the Geoduck Clam harvest on the benthic sedimentary environment, nearby eelgrass beds, and the suspended sediment concentration. It will also examine how these effects vary spatially and temporally at both intertidal and subtidal study sites. The research results will address questions concerning the potential impacts of commercial-scale Geoduck Clam harvest on the benthic sedimentary environment and eelgrass populations and will help governmental agencies make informed decisions about the potential expansion of geoduck aquaculture (both intertidal and subtidal) in BC.

Sept. 2008 – Dec. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Ministry of Forests/BC Timber Sales, West Coast Geoduck Research Corp.
Project team: Chris Pearce (DFO), Wenshan Liu (DFO), Miriam O (DFO), Grant Dovey (West 1230 Resource Consulting Inc.), Bruce Clapp (West Coast Geoduck Research Corp.), Michelle James (West Coast Geoduck Research Corp.),Sean Williams (Abrupt Shellfish Inc.)
Contact: Chris Pearce ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Harvesting cultured Pacific Geoduck Clams in the intertidal with a high-volume water jet called a stinger

Improving techniques for broodstock conditioning of Pacific Geoduck Clams

This research is aimed at finding which factors promote maximum fecundity in broodstock Pacific Geoduck Clams (Panopea generosa) reared in a hatchery setting. The effects of various temperature, salinity, and nutritional regimes on gonad development were investigated. The ranges of temperature and salinity were selected to reflect those typical of an estuarine environment in British Columbia (7 to 19°C and 17 to 29‰ respectively).

A temperature of 11°C was optimal with >90% of the clams maintaining ripe gonads with high numbers of oocytes and frequent spawns. Gonads remained ripe at 7°C, but spawning was inhibited. Temperatures above 15°C resulted in gonad degeneration. Salinities of 20‰ or lower were lethal to broodstock while gonad and gamete development were inhibited at a salinity of 24‰ compared to 29‰. The feed type (various combinations of Isochrysis sp., Chaetoceros muelleri, and Dunaliella tertiolecta) did not have significant impacts on gonad development, but overfeeding (>5 billion cells of Isochrysis sp. equivalent per day) had negative impacts on gamete production. The results of this study will be important in improving gamete production (and ultimately, larval production) in commercial-scale Pacific Geoduck Clam hatcheries.

Adult Pacific Geoduck Clams recently harvested from an intertidal culture plot in Washington state

Jan. 2006 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: NSERC
Project team: Chris Pearce (DFO), Scott McKinley (UBC), Rob Marshall (UBC)
Contact: Chris Pearce (

Assessing control methods for invasive tunicates in shellfish aquaculture

Currently, there are at least four species of tunicates in British Columbia which are non-native and potentially invasive: the Solitary Tunicate Styela clava (Club Tunicate) and the colonial tunicates Botrylloides violaceus (Violet Tunicate), Botryllus schlosseri (Golden Star Tunicate), and Didemnum vexillum. Recent monitoring surveys have detected some of these tunicate species at a variety of shellfish culture leases around British Columbia. This project is assessing the efficacy of various mechanical (scrubbing), biological (sea urchin grazing), and chemical (lime, acetic acid, brine, fresh water) means of tunicate control in Pacific Oyster aquaculture. Additionally, various concentrations and dip times of the chemical treatments are being evaluated for both their effects on the invasive tunicates and the shellfish themselves. Results will be of importance to shellfish aquaculture ventures as the industry requires effective, safe, and economical means of tunicate control.

May 2009 – Dec. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), DFO – Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), BC Shellfish Growers Association
Project team: Tom Therriault (DFO), Chris Pearce (DFO), Soleil Switzer (DFO), Kate Rolheiser (VIU), Anya Epelbaum (DFO), BC Shellfish Growers Association
Contact: Thomas Therriault (, Chris Pearce ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Invasive tunicate Didemnum vexillum on an oyster shell

Determining optimal microalgal diets and feeding rations for larvae and seed of the Pacific Geoduck Clam

The Pacific Geoduck Clam (Panopea generosa) industry in British Columbia (BC) has been constrained by the lack of a reliable seed supply, indicating possible inadequacies with the current hatchery production strategy.

The objective of this project is to evaluate the effects of various microalgal diets (single- and bi-algal) on the growth and survival of geoduck larvae and seed. The main goal is to identify optimal diets and the specific nutritional requirements (especially fatty acids) of larvae/seed and to ascertain vital nutrients imparting high nutritional value to the diets. The research will also identify optimal microalgal rations for both larvae and seed and examine the possibility of replacement of these live microalgae with commercially-available, spray-dried, microalgal diets.

The results of this project will contribute significantly to the establishment and refinement of hatchery-rearing protocols of geoduck larvae and seed, as well as to further expansion of the aquaculture industry of this species in BC.

Cultured juvenile Pacific Geoduck Clams

Aug. 2010 – Sept. 2012 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Klahoose First Nation
Project team: Chris Pearce (DFO), Wenshan Liu (DFO), Scott McKinley (UBC), Ian Forster (DFO), Chris Roddan (Klahoose First Nation)
Contact: Chris Pearce ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Developing genomics resources and tools for the health assessment of marine mussels (the Myt-OME projects)

The British Columbia coastline is under increasing pressure from competing coastal zone utilization (e.g., urbanization, recreation and aquaculture) and climate change impacts. The value of shellfish as a group to use to monitor ecosystem health and function is well recognized. However, their full potential has not been realized due to a lack of tools that can be applied to their assessment.

Within this program we are developing genomic information and tools for studying marine mussels (Mytilus spp.). In addition to being important in Canadian shellfish aquaculture, mussels are also widely used bio-indicator species of ecosystem health. cDNA subtracted and highly normalized libraries have been developed from mussels exposed to a variety of stressing agents. Bi-directional sequencing of these libraries has produced expressed sequence tags (ESTs), and currently genes are being selected for inclusion on a custom oligoarray. This array will be used in gene expression analysis, to examine the nature and magnitude of the stress response to environmental stressing agents. Over the long term, these resources will be important for researchers and aquaculture managers interested in developing and improving mussel culture, as well as those utilizing mussels for assessments of coastal environmental health.

Jan. 2009 – May 2011 • Funded by: Genome British Columbia, DFO - Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), DFO – Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR), Centre for Shellfish Research, Taylor Shellfish Canada
Project team: Helen Gurney-Smith (Centre for Shellfish Research), Stewart Johnson (DFO), Catherine Thomson (Centre for Shellfish Research, DFO), Daniel Sanderson, Gary Meyer, Kimberly Taylor, Genome British Columbia, Ben Koop (University of Victoria), Antonio Figueras (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain), Craig Newton (ATG Genetics), Taylor Shellfish Canada
Contact: Helen Gurney-Smith (, Stewart Johnson (,

Genomic tools for the assessment of impacts of aquaculture activities on Little Neck Clams (Protothaca staminea)

Often referred to as keystone species, bivalves are major components of coastal and estuarine ecosystems and play a prominent role in the development of ecosystem health indices and values, which can then be applied to ecosystems in general. It is well documented that stressful environmental conditions (natural or man-made) affect aquatic animal physiological performance (e.g., growth and fecundity), health and survival. Unlike finfish, for which sensitive biochemical assays, genomic tools and visual indicators of stress are available, there are few informative and reliable tools for bivalves. Through this project we developed genomic tools to aid in the study of native Little Neck Clam responses to environmental and anthropogenic factors. These tools will facilitate the use of this species as bio-indicators in the assessment of ecosystem health and resilience in the presence of aquaculture and other potential stressors. In 2008/09 we received funding to construct a cDNA library for Little Neck Clams. The 2009/10 project conducted expressed sequence tag (EST) sequencing with the goal of identifying genes that would serve as bio-indicators for stress and/or exposure to the aquaculture therapeutant SLICE®.

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)
Project team: Stewart Johnson (DFOPBS)
Contact: Stewart Johnson (

Technical and economic optimization of cooked mussel meat production procedures

The production of cooked mussel meat presents an attractive opportunity to reduce losses associated with the management of fresh mussel production. Cooking mussels preserves their initial quality and, once shelled, the meat can be frozen or brined and sold for various uses. The objective of the project was to optimize production procedures for cooked mussel meat and final products with a steam pressure cooker, an adaptation of a Dutch technology. The effect of the operating parameters was tested on the shelling rate, yield, and quality of cooked meat and final products for three categories of mussels. On the basis of the results obtained, standards were developed for small mussels and for the largest mussels. Throughout the testing, the shelling rate exceeded the recommendations (98%). Additional tests will be required to obtain optimal results. This cooking technique looks very promising for the processing and marketing of blue mussels in Canada.

Aug. 2009 – Sept. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), Centre technologique des produits aquatiques (CTPA)
Project team: Sylvain Lafrance (SODIM), Robert Vaillancourt (SODIM), Julie Pariseau (SODIM), Marion Voegtlin (Halieutec), Karine Berger (Halieutec), Marie- Joëlle Leblanc (Halieutec), Henri Audet (Halieutec), Luc Leclerc (CTPA), Noëlla Coulombe (CTPA), Françoise Tétreault (Menu Mer Inc.)
Contact: Sylvain Lafrance (

Integrating ecosystem ecology in mussel aquaculture towards increasing yield

The future of aquaculture is dependent upon research that leads the way to economically efficient yet environmentally sustainable methods of production. One approach to achieving this goal lies in understanding and managing aquaculture facilities as a food web that is embedded in the natural, spatially extended, marine ecosystem. In conjunction with the mussel aquaculture industry on the Magdalen Islands, in situ mesocosm experiments were conducted towards elucidating the impact of mussels on the plankton community. Mussels can potentially impact plankton communities directly through grazing and indirectly by modifying nutrient availability. The indirect effects were examined by measuring the cascading effects of mussel excretions on components of the benthic and pelagic community (ranging from benthic bacteria to mesozooplankton). In addition, short-term mesocosm experiments were conducted to observe the direct impact of mussel grazing on the plankton community structure, with an emphasis on looking at how mussels feed on its zooplankton competitors. The pending results from both experiments will provide a comprehensive picture of the mechanisms structuring plankton communities in mussel farms. The data from this project could allow for better prediction of carrying capacity of sites and may suggest management actions that could take advantage of the existing biological interactions (i.e., nutrient recycling) to increase mussel condition and production. We have titled the project AQUAMAN: AQUAculture of Mussels And Nutrients.

Sept. 2008 – Jun. 2011 • Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC),DFO, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), Moules de culture des Iles
Project team: Gregor Fussmann (U McGill),Philippe Archambault (UQAR-ISMER), Connie Lovejoy (U Laval), Chris McKindsey (DFO), Stéphane Plourde (DFO), Réjean Tremblay (UQAR-IS-MER), Bruno Myrand (MAPAQ), Michel Fournier (Moules de culture des Iles)
Contact: Gregor Fussmann (

Mesocosm structures in operation

Assessment of various Soft-shell Clam (Mya arenaria) post-harvest action scenarios aimed at the recovery of harvested sites in the St. Lawrence Estuary, Quebec

The significant decline in commercial-sized (≥ 51 mm) Soft-shell Clam biomass on the North Shore since 2000 has raised concerns about the long-term survival of the species. In response, management strategies for a clam culture site were tested to promote the recovery of the resource and the development of clam culture in Quebec. The work was carried out at Cran à Gagnon (48°48'58" N, 68°56'24" W). The technique used for this project consisted of placing the nets, in two different patterns, on an intensively harvested tidal flat in order to promote the settlement of current year spat and the retention of residual and seeded clams. Sampling was carried out in the fall of 2007, 2008, and 2009, to measure demographic changes in the clams.

The results show that variations in spat (≤ 10 mm) density are attributable primarily to annual variability in reproductive success. They also show a significant increase in spat density in the plots with nets in the fall of 2007 and 2008. One year after the removal of the nets, spat densities were similar on all treatment sites. It also appears that the nets contributed to the retention of seeded clams, but prevented the settlement of clams over 26 mm from the surrounding area.

Clams marked for seeding

Apr. 2007 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Fisheries Science Collaborative Program (FSCP), Société de développement de l'industrie maricole, Association des cueilleurs de myes de la Haute-Côte-Nord, Comité côtier Les Escoumins à la rivière Betsiamites, Coquillages Nordiques
Project team: Sylvie Brulotte (DFOIML), Michel Giguère (DFOIML), Jean-Marie Bélisle (Comité côtier Les Escoumins à la rivière Betsiamites), Claudia Boisvert (Association des cueilleurs de myes de la Haute-Côte-Nord), Bernard Tremblay (Association des cueilleurs de myes de la Haute-Côte-Nord), Isabel Calderón (Société de développement de l'industrie maricole inc.)
Contact: Sylvie Brulotte (mailto: • /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Dispersal of seeded clams during storms in the Magdalen Islands

Significant losses have been observed after seeding of young clams. Dispersal is one factor that should be examined given that, in the Magdalen Islands, clams are seeded on a medium sand substrate. A previous project carried out in a flow channel showed that young clams burrowed into such a substrate could be dislodged at a lower level of turbulence than that reported during storms. Losses associated with storms have been documented in situ since 2008. Small experimental plots (40 cm x 40 cm) are seeded with 20 and 30 mm clams (500 clams m-2) in early summer and covered with 4-mm mesh protective nets. Prior to an anticipated storm, the nets are removed from six of the plots and 2 to 3 plots are harvested immediately to determine the number of clams just before the storm. The remaining plots are harvested immediately following the storm. The difference between the two average densities is interpreted as loss due to the storm. The sediment dynamics (sedimentation/erosion) is also measured on the experimental plots. Losses due to storms are marginal as very little sand (< 1 cm) is eroded during the storms.

Apr. 2008 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by:MAPAQ, MDEIE, DEC, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), CLD îles-de-la-Madeleine
Project team: Bruno Myrand (Merinov-Center), Lise Chevarie (ISMER), Réjean Tremblay (ISMER)
Contact: Bruno Myrand (

Burrowing depth of Soft-shell Clams in the Magdalen Islands

Dispersal and predation are among the factors to consider in explaining the significant losses following the seeding of young soft-shell clams. Vulnerability of clams to predation and dispersal depends largely on their depth of burrowing. The deeper they burrow, the less accessible they are to predators and the less vulnerable they are to dispersal caused by the erosion of surrounding sediments. Temporal changes in the burrowing depth of 20 and 30 mm clams have been monitored since 2008 in the Magdalen Islands. A fine graduated thread is glued to the shell of each experimental clam. The other end of the thread is attached to a metal rod. Burrowing depth is measured each week over a large part of the summer (mid-July to mid-November). The clams very quickly reach the burrowing depth they will maintain overall (< 1 week). Clams measuring 20 mm burrow 4-6 cm below the surface and clams measuring 30 mm burrow 5-8 cm below the surface.

Apr. 2008 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: MAPAQ, MDEIE, DEC, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), CLD îles-de-la-Madeleine
Project team: Bruno Myrand (Merinov-Center), Lise Chevarie (ISMER), Réjean Tremblay (ISMER)
Contact: Bruno Myrand (

Scale-up of hatchery production of American Lobster larvae for stocking in order to support a sustainable fishery

Despite the implementation of management measures and conservation efforts by harvesters, landings of American Lobster (Homarus americanus) in the Gaspé region have not returned to the record highs of the early 2000s. To help the resource and ensure the sustainability of the lobster fishery in the Gaspé region, the Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG) and Merinov have implemented a project to scale up the hatchery production of American Lobster larvae for stocking. The project target is to produce and stock over 100,000 stage IV+ lobster larvae by 2012. The purpose of the project, carried out at the Centre aquacole marin de Grande-Rivière (Quebec), is to establish optimum protocols that make it possible to obtain an average larval survival rate of 40% at stage IV using the greenwater culture method (combination of Artemia and microalgae). The project also involves selection of bottoms suitable for stocking, the implementation of before-after control impact (BACI) studies of stocking success and optimization of the production methods and costs.

450-L cylindrical-conical tanks used for greenwater culture of American Lobster larvae

Mar. 2010 – Mar. 2013 • Funded by: DEC, MAPAQ, RPPSG, MDEIE, MAMROT, Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR)
Project team: Jean Côté (Regroupement des Pêcheurs Professionnels du Sud de la Gaspésie), Frédérique Bélanger (Merinov), Jean-François Laplante (Merinov), Louise Gendron (MPO), équipe du CAMGR (Merinov)
Contact: Jean Côté (

Seeding of clams following pre-growout in the Magdalen Islands

Young clams collected using collectors are too small to be directly seeded without resulting in significant losses. A pre-growout phase is therefore required to allow clams to reach an average size of at least 20 mm. Following this stage, the clams are seeded and left to grow until they reach a market size of 51 mm. Previous experimental work on seeding has demonstrated that significant losses often continue to occur during this last step despite the pre-growout phase. Periodic monitoring (spring and fall) is conducted to monitor changes in losses. The main objective of this project is to allow clams to grow without any intervention (no monitoring) for two full years and to then assess seeding success. The average recovery rate in October 2010, 27 months after seeding, was 40.4 ± 2.7%. The clams had reached a size of 37.5 ± 0.3 mm, representing growth of 13.3 mm (or 5.9 mm yr-1).

Apr. 2008 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by:MAPAQ, MDEIE, DEC, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), CLD des îles-de-la-Madeleine
Project team: Lise Chevarie (ISMER), Bruno Myrand (ISMER), Réjean Tremblay (ISMER)
Contact: Lise Chevarie (

Sampling the clams

Stocking of mussels to rebuild natural stocks in Bassin de Havre-Aubert, Magdalen Islands

Stocked mussels

It is very advantageous for mussel growers in the Magdalen Islands to obtain their spat from Bassin de Havre-Aubert. The early reproduction of broodstock makes it possible to obtain an abundance of young mussels measuring 15-30 mm by the fall. In addition, due to their genetic characteristics (high heterozygosity), they are fast growing and more resistant to stress and therefore less vulnerable to mass mortalities. Since 2001, the natural population has declined substantially, with a 98% decrease in biomass. For that reason, spat collection has been erratic and, in some years, the situation is catastrophic, resulting in major production problems. Since the fall of 2009, spat collected in Bassin de Havre-Aubert are socked and left at the site to reproduce the following summer. They are then directly seeded on the bottom. In the weeks prior to seeding, a green crab control program is implemented near the sites to be seeded using adapted traps. The mussels are also protected from predators using screened cages for several weeks after seeding. The 13,500 mussels (45-60 mm) seeded in the fall of 2010 had a very high survival rate. This practice should be adopted by mussel growers in the future.

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: Société de développement de l'industriesmaricole (SODIM)
Project team: François Bourque (Merinov-Center îles-de-la-Madeleine), Carole Cyr (Merinov-Center îles-de-la-Madeleine), Bruno Myrand (Merinov-Center îles-de-la-Madeleine)
Contact: François Bourque (

Protective nets to prevent clam predation

Soft-shell Clam aquaculture in the Magdalen Islands is a promising sector. To limit losses by predation and dispersal following seeding, the installation of protective nets is recommended. Work has been done to test the effectiveness of the nets against predation by examining the ability of crabs to penetrate the nets. Seed plots covered with a 4 mm mesh net and surrounded by 40 cm x 40 cm frames were used. Although the crabs burrowed in the sand along the edge of the frame, the net seems to protect the clams relatively well. However, it is important that the system be carefully installed because the frames can be unstable and can leave a space that can be penetrated by predators. In 2010, tests on the refuge size for clams from predation by rock crab were initiated. The work is being carried out in the natural environment using exclosures consisting of predetermined combinations of clam and mussel sizes. The results should allow us to form an opinion on the advisability of using a protective net in the second year following seeding of clams that have reached approximately 30 mm by that time.

Jun. 2009 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: MAPAQ, MDEIE, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR)
Project team:Madeleine Nadeau (Merinov), Bruno Myrand (Merinov), Lise Chevarie (ISMER)
Contact:Madeleine Nadeau (

Securing mussel spat in the Magdalen Islands and the impact of predation

In recent years, Magdalen Islands clam growers have had difficulty collecting spat in Bassin du Havre-Aubert. This situation has raised concerns and forms the basis of an extensive project aimed at understanding the factors affecting spat collection success in this body of water. One of the components of this project was to characterize the importance of predation on natural mussel beds, particularly on juvenile mussels. To this end, various types of exclusion cages (closed, semi-closed, and open) were installed in two natural beds of juvenile mussels (~20 mm). In 2008, the work was done directly on the natural populations, whereas in 2009 and 2010, mussels were introduced to obtain controlled densities. Overall, the results showed significant spatial variability. In the site known as Le Goulet, mussel densities in the closed and open cages were comparable. However, at the La Rivière site, significant losses of juveniles were observed. A Green Crab population is known to occur in the vicinity of this site. The Green Crab population of Bassin du Havre-Aubert increased substantially in 2010, confirming our concerns about the impact of predation on natural mussel beds.

Apr. 2008 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by:MAPAQ, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM)
Project team:Madeleine Nadeau (Merinov),François Bourque (Merinov), Bruno Myrand (Merinov)
Contact:Madeleine Nadeau (

Management of commercial-scale Soft-shell Clam growout operations

The objective of this project is to develop and test a pre-growout system for small Soft-shell Clams (4-12 mm). Clams of this size have not yet reached their refuge size by the fall, often resulting in significant losses. Bins measuring 1.22 m x 2.44 m were constructed and filled with sand with a density of 5,600 clams m-2. Three bins were placed in the water in early July. Unfortunately, the bins were damaged and emptied by the waves produced by Hurricane Danny. After a number of technical modifications, a second test was conducted in September. Although the performance of the bins was much improved, they were once again emptied by storms in late October. The tests clearly demonstrated that bins suspended in the water column are not well suited to local severe weather conditions. With funding from the provincial government, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM) and UQAR, a third trial was initiated in 2010 with modified bins to facilitate their handling. The results demonstrated that the technique had been improved, with the growth of the Soft-shell Clams reaching the objective of 1.06 mm/week.

Jun. 2009 – Sept. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), MAPAQ, UQAR, ISMER
Project team: Sylvain Lafrance (SODIM), Robert Vaillancourt (SODIM), Julie Pariseau (SODIM), Bruno Myrand (MAPAQ), Rejean Tremblay (ISMER), Lise Chevarie (ISMER), Guillaume Werstink (MAPAQ-UQAR)
Contact: Sylvain Lafrance (

Sandbox for farming clams

Project in Quebec to increase the shelf life and vitality of scallops shipped live to market

The sale of live in-shell scallops is an important market for the Quebec scallop aquaculture industry. Maintaining scallop vitality during and after shipment is a critical factor in maintaining customer confidence and promoting the development of North American markets. However, keeping scallops out of the water for four to five days after their removal from the aquaculture site poses a major challenge. A good assessment of scallop vitality prior to shipment is critical to ensuring they can survive transport. The validation of predictive indices of the shelf life would be particularly important in order to be able to offer buyers guaranteed shelf life and product quality.

A project in Quebec is designed to test the predictive value of various physiological indices for assessing the transportability and shelf life of scallops shipped live to market. These indices were determined on various groups of scallops shipped at different times of the year and in accordance with different handling and packaging protocols.

Scallop shipping container

Oct. 2009 – Dec. 2010 • Funded by: Société de Développement de l'Industrie Maricole (SODIM)
Project team: Sophie Gauthier-Clerc (UQAR), Laurent Girault (Merinov), Karine Berger (Merinov), Culti-Mer inc.
Contact: Sophie Gauthier-Clerc (

Validation of a scallop spat holding procedure

Toxic phytoplankton found in transferred scallop stocks

When bivalve transfer requests are made, a holding period is regularly recommended to minimize the ecological risks. The 48 h holding time required for adult organisms is based on data from the literature and is designed to eliminate live phytoplankton species from the feces and pseudofeces and from the intervalve water of the organisms to be transferred. In the case of spat, a holding time of 48 h is always recommended. However, the small size of the organisms would suggest that a shorter holding period would be sufficient and would still be effective. Reducing the holding time would have benefits in terms of reducing stress in spat prior to its transfer in conditions that will expose it to air for several hours.

The objective of this project is to validate the effectiveness of a scallop spat holding time of less than 48 h. The work includes laboratory experiments and industry verification of a high-performance filtration system. The results are expected in late 2011.

Apr. 2009 – Dec. 2011 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Société de développement de l'industrie maricole (SODIM)
Project team:Michael Scarratt (DFO), Sophie Gauthier-Clerc (ISMER-UQAR), Madeleine Nadeau (Merinov), Marie-Gil Fortin (ISMER-MAPAQ)
Contact:Michael Scarratt ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Monitoring of scallop toxicity as a function of the presence of toxic phytoplankton and relative to mussel toxicity on suspended culture sites

Plankton net

The main objective of this project is to assess the contamination dynamics of scallops cultured in Baie de Gaspé and Baie des Chaleurs as a function of the presence of toxic phytoplankton in the water column. The correlation between a toxic episode in mussels relative to scallops and the necessary time required for detoxification will also be evaluated. The potential synchronization of contamination and detoxification of the two bivalves is believed to have a predictive value for estimating the commercial risk of scallop harvesting when toxicity is detected in mussels harvested near a scallop culture site.

Weekly sampling of mussels and scallops was conducted from July to November 2010 on four shellfish aquaculture sites in the Gaspé Peninsula. Analyses of toxins (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP), and Anemic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) in the tissue of the two bivalves were conducted. For each site and sampling period, the physicochemical parameters of the water were measured. The taxonomic analysis of the phytoplankton species sampled is currently under way. The results of this project are expected in May 2011.

Jun. 2010 – May 2011 • Funded by: Société de développement de l'industrie maricole (SODIM)
Project team:Michael Scarratt (DFO), Sophie Gauthier-Clerc (ISMER-UQAR), Nathalie Moisan (Merinov), Marie-Gil Fortin (ISMER-UQAR), Jean-Philippe Hébert (Ferme marine du Québec, Inc.)
Contact:Michael Scarratt (

American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) suspension culture trials in lagoons and open water in the Magdalen Islands

Since the late 1990s, there has been considerable interest among oyster growers in the Maritimes in developing/adapting high-performance oyster culture techniques. The commercial size of oysters grown in floating bags and on lines is achieved in less than four years compared to seven years in the case of bottom culture. In the spring of 2010, a project was initiated to test three suspension culture techniques: oysters attached to vertical longlines, oysters attached to horizontal longlines and lantern nets. The project involves assessing the biotechnical potential of oyster culture in the Magdalen Islands in lagoons and in open water. The results for the three techniques used are very encouraging. Between June and October, growth of 20 mm was observed in 30 mm oysters grown in lagoons compared to 15 mm in oysters in Baie de Plaisance grown 7 m below the surface. Large numbers of mussels and hydrozoans attached themselves to both the structures and oysters. When the structures touch the bottom, oyster survival is affected. The project will continue until 2013, and it is being carried out in partnership with two clam growers interested in diversifying their production.

Apr. 2010 – Mar. 2013 • Funded by: MAPAQ, Société de développement de l'industrie maricole (SODIM)
Project team: Carole Cyr (Merinov), Jean-François Laplante (UQAR-MAPAQ), Moules de Culture des îles, Moules du Large
Contact: Carole Cyr (

Assessment of the impact of the mechanization of ear hanging operations on growth and survival of Sea Scallop

Sea Scallop

The economic viability of suspension culture of Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) to commercial size has not yet been demonstrated in Quebec. The labour costs of this farming strategy are high, resulting in significantly higher production costs for commercial size scallops. However, Japan has developed equipment to mechanize a number of operations associated with ear hanging culture of Japanese Scallops (Patinopecten yessoensis). If effective for Sea Scallops, this equipment would substantially reduce production costs. The project was initiated in 2007, with the following objectives: i) to assess the impact of three new machines acquired to mechanize ear hanging culture operations on scallop growth and survival; ii) to characterize scallop vitality at each of the main steps in the production process; and iii) to assess the labour requirements with and without mechanization. The three machines are a washer-sorter, mimitsuri (machine that mechanizes the piercing and installation of the scallops on the culture lines), and ear-hung scallop washer. The use of these three machines had no negative impact on scallop survival.

Apr. 2007 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: Société de développement maricole (SODIM), programme DTM d'Halieutec
Project team: Carole Cyr (Merinov), Madeleine Nadeau (UQAR-MAPAQ), Jean-François Laplante (UQAR-MAPAQ), Culti-mer inc.
Contact: Carole Cyr (

Sea duck predation on mussel farms: developing non-lethal methods of exclusion

Predation by migrating sea ducks has become a challenge to mussel growers worldwide. Mussels are the principle prey item for sea ducks, like Common Eiders, Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and Scaup, which take advantage of mussel farms that provide a highly abundant and easily accessible food source.

Methods to 'scare' ducks off mussel farms have included loud recordings, pyrotechnics, shooting, chemical deterrents, or chasing with boats; all of which have had limited success. The installation of exclusion nets to physically prevent sea ducks from entering mussel farms have been the most successful; however, nets are expensive to install and maintain, and have the potential to entangle fish, diving birds, and mammals, causing conflicts with conservation and fishery regulators.

With international collaboration between the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), researchers at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute (IML) are studying the underwater feeding behavior of captive sea ducks on mussel ropes, and will be developing and testing a conservation-friendly and cost-effective deterrent that limits entanglement while protecting mussel stocks. These experiments with captive sea ducks will provide critical information for the development of useful methods to exclude predatory ducks from mussel farms.

Jan. 2010 – Dec. 2012 • Funded by: Research Council of Norway (RCN)
Project team: Samantha E. Richman (UQAR), Magella Guillemette (UQAR), Elisabeth Varennes (UQAR), Svienn Are Hanssen (NINA Norway),John Bonardelli (Shellfish Solutions Norway), Chris McKindsey (DFO)
Contact: Samantha Richman (

Captive common eider

Stabilization of anchors for clam culture lines

Several years ago, clam growers of Baie de Cascapédia were the first to report problems associated with the use of cement blocks to anchor the ends of shellfish culture lines. Some of the blocks are displaced, no doubt due to the rigorous hydrodynamic conditions, and become entangled in adjacent lines. This problem, common on exposed production sites, is likely to grow with the development of new shellfish farms in Baie de Plaisance in the Magdalen Islands. In the event of the cessation of operations, the restoration of production sites would be very difficult in cases where cement block anchors are placed on substrates having a grain size greater than that of silt. It appears that it should be possible to replace concrete blocks with other types of anchors, such as Japanese anchors, screw anchors and Manta Ray anchors. The purpose of this project is to test and compare the holding capacity of the various types of anchors for different substrates as an alternative to anchors consisting of a cement block or series of cement blocks.

2009 – 2011 • Funded by: Société de développement maricole (SODIM), Merinov
Project team: Daniel Fournier (SODIM), C. Forest (MAPAQ – DRG), G. Lapointe (MAPAQ – DRG), S. Morissette (Les moules Cascapédia ltée), R. Allard (Pêcheries R. Allard inc), F. Bourque (Merinov), J. Dufresne (Les Moules de Gaspé)
Contact: Daniel Fournier (

New mussel spat collection strategy in the Lower North Shore: collectors in the form of gillnets

The production of mussels to commercial size involves a critical step, namely the procurement of mussel spat. To that end, efforts have been focused on optimizing mussel spat collection structures. This project proposes a comparison of conventional collectors with collectors in the form of gillnets. The objective of this project is to develop a more high-performance mussel spat collection system that is better adapted to prevailing conditions on the Lower North Shore and that could increase the supply of mussel spat and reduce costs associated with this step in the production process.

Apr. 2010 – Apr. 2012 • Funded by: Société de développement maricole (SODIM), DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP)
Project team: Andrée-Anne Lachance (Merinov), Robert Laguë (SODIM)
Contact: Andrée-Anne Lachance (

Testing of an approach to improve yields of spat and market mussels by reducing fall-off losses

Mussel culture ropes

Mussel culture has been carried out off the Magdalen Islands in Baie de Plaisance since 2007. Initial harvest data show lower than expected yields. Losses due to fall-off of spat or market mussels are observed when the lines are raised for the purpose of either adding buoys or harvesting. A project was launched to reduce losses due to fall-off using various collection approaches and various socking materials. The objective of the project was also to increase the knowledge of the phenomenon of mussel fall-off under open-water culture conditions.

Jun. 2010 – Jun. 2012 • Funded by: Société de développement maricole (SODIM), Innovamer
Project team:Madeleine Nadeau (Merinov), François Bourque (Merinov), Jean-François Laplante (Merinov – agreement MAPAQ-UQAR), Denyse Hébert (La moule du large inc.), Christian Vigneau (La moule du large inc.)
Contact:Madeleine Nadeau (

Development of a new approach for holding farmed sea scallops in seawater tanks

The maritime regions of eastern Canada are suited to marine aquaculture and the culture of various species of shellfish, including Sea Scallops (Placopecten magellanicus). In recent years, growers have been farming this species in Quebec using spat produced in hatcheries or collected in the wild. They sell their scallops live in the shell. This allows them to differentiate their product from fished scallops and imported products. Markets for scallops are often located at large distances from production sites, which complicates the sale of live scallops. Some suppliers would be willing to sell live scallops if they were able to keep them in holding tanks. The purpose of this project is to develop a suitable protocol for holding live scallops in closed-system tanks, filled either with natural or artificial seawater, and to determine the life span and changes in quality (i.e., taste, texture, vitality) of sea scallops held in holding tanks.

Apr. 2010 – Apr. 2011 • Funded by: Société de développement maricole (SODIM), DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP)
Project team: Andrée-Anne Lachance (Merinov), Marcel Driscoll (Pec-Nord inc.), Philippe Labadie (Aqua-Labadie enr.)
Contact: Andrée-Anne Lachance (

Scallops in the lab

Risks associated with scallop spat transfers from the Magdalen Islands

A number of aquatic invasive species have been observed in the Magdalen Islands since 2003: Green Alga (Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides); Green Crab (Carcinus maenas); Japanese Skeleton Shrimp (Caprella mutica); and more recently, Golden Star Tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri), which has been discovered in several bodies of water in the Magdalen Islands; as well as the Vase Tunicate (Ciona intestinalis), which has been reported at Cap-aux-Meules and on a scallop shell in the Havre-aux-Maisons lagoon. Lacy Crust Bryozoan (Membranipora membranacea) also occurs throughout the islands. In 2008, firms applied for permits to transfer scallop spat from the Magdalen Islands to the Lower North Shore and Gaspé Peninsula, but the applications were denied due to the risk of potential introductions of invasive species into the receiving environments. The objective of this project is to facilitate the acceptability of applications to transfer scallop spat from the Magdalen Islands to other maritime regions by identifying undesirable species and testing the effectiveness of a sanitation protocol designed to reduce the risk of introduction of invasive species.

May 2009 – Dec. 2010 • Funded by: Société de développement maricole (SODIM), DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)
Project team: Bernard Sainte-Marie (DFO), M. Nadeau (Merinov), N. Simard (DFO), M. Bourgeois (Culti-mer inc.), H. Bourdages (DFO), S. Gauthier-Clerc (MU-CAMGR)
Contact: Bernard Sainte-Marie ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Scallop spat

Estimating fall-off of mussels cultured on self-operating collectors

In Carleton (Chaleur Bay, Quebec) some mussel farmers use the self-operating collector, which does not require the manipulation of mussel density over the grow-out period, to culture mussels. In areas where spat density is high and completely covers the collectors, the mussel density on collectors decreases via a self-thinning process. There is almost nothing known on relative differences between mussel culture on socks and self-operating collectors. The goal of this project was to gain information on how best to estimate and simulate fall-off from the self-operating or autocollectors. The rate of fall-off with autocollectors can only be estimated using computer simulations as divers find no mussels on the bottom only crushed shell in traps beneath longlines (crabs enter the traps and crush the mussels). Mussel fall-off from self-thinning can be estimated over the course of grow-out through two possible approaches. The goal of this project was to determine which approach accurately estimated mussel fall-off.

The information gained from this project will allow researchers to compare the input rates of organic matter to the bottom (fall-offs) between both mussel growing systems. Results show no evidence of non-linearity in the relationship between biomass and population density, indicating that individual growth is not dependent on population density. This information will help determine the appropriate method for calculating mussel fall-off.

Apr. 2008 – Mar. 2009 • Funded by: DFO – Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research
Project team: Marcel Fréchette (DFO)
Contact:Marcel Fréchette (

Mussel harvesting

Optimization of the horizontally glued oyster culture technique

This one-year project improved the oyster gluing process by developing technology for drying oysters, assessing the use of warm glue, and developing a floater for the glued oyster rearing structure. Results showed that the transfer of glue from the cartridge to the oyster shells occurred via compressed air provide better control and greater speed in applying the glue. An oyster dryer was constructed to dry the oysters. The methodology for horizontal gluing is now established for enterprises wishing to use this technique. The manpower is well trained and the tools will be in place to support commercialization. Commercial yields are very promising.

Glued oysters

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), Ministry of Agriculture and Aquaculture of New Brunswick, NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
Project team: Norbert Thibodeau (Brantville Aquaculture Ltée.), Denis Thibodeau (Brantville Aquaculture), Jacques Mallet (NBDAA), Sylvio Doiron (NBDAA), André Mallet (Mallet Research Services)

Ecosystem-level effects of bivalve aquaculture activities: hydraulic rake impacts

An upcoming aquaculture activity in Québec (and elsewhere) is the development of Soft-shell Clam (and related) farming in intertidal or shallow subtidal areas. The impacts from this type of farming are likely to be associated with harvesting as this is done by hydraulic rake. To this end, a study was done in Quebec in 2003 by Lizon Provencher to evaluate the impacts of this activity and the recovery of the benthic communities under local conditions (sandy sediments in low energy systems), but it has not been published. This project focussed on the analysis, writing, and publishing of the results of the research on the impacts of hydraulic dredge harvesting of Soft-shell Clam on benthic communities and the recovery of the communities over a 1 year period. A hydraulic rake was used to harvest Soft-shell Clam by sampling 3 experimental and 3 reference sites immediately prior to and following harvest and at 1, 4, 12, and 52 weeks post-harvest in both the spring and fall. In short, the abundance, biomass and richness of organisms > 1 mm were decreased by harvesting operations in the fall but not in the spring, and organisms recovered within 1 year. The abundance of large organisms (other than Soft-shell Clams) was not affected by harvesting.

Apr. 2008 – Mar. 2009 • Funded by: DFO – Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)
Project team: Chris McKindsey (DFO)
Contact: Chris McKindsey (

Soft-shell clam

Multipurpose closed-system shellfish holding facility

The objective of this two-year project was to establish a multipurpose closed-system shellfish holding facility that used new technology (SKIM) developed in France. The system removed bacteria and dissolved organic matter while aerating and circulating the water. The project proponents have developed a shellfish holding and depuration facility that minimizes the risk of introduction of diseases and invasive species and allows for the implementation of a more effective, more flexible product certification program. The application of the closed-system concept, the design of the holding tanks, the control of water flow, the laboratory certification and the depuration strategy have all been successfully completed.

Jul. 2008 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), Ministry of Agriculture and Aquaculture of New Brunswick, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Northern Economic Development Fund of New Brunswick
Project team: Amédée Savoie (De la Maison Beausoleil), Léon Lanteigne (De la Maison Beausoleil), Armand Lejeune (EMYG Aquaculture)
Contact: Amédée Savoie (

Developing guidelines for culling cultured Eastern Oysters

According to popular opinion circulating among New Brunswick industry members, 25 to 50% of oysters should be eliminated during early grading because they are genetically inferior in terms of growth potential. This claim is based on the assumption that the floating bag technique offers equal growing conditions for all individuals; hence any variance in individual growth performance is genetically-based. Likewise when oyster seed are initially removed from the collectors and then graded to remove the 'slow' growers, there is no allowance for differing histories with regard to settlement time or density-dependent effects. This drastic grading strategy necessitates a higher investment in seed collection. Given the known annual risk of spatfall failure in key seed-producing areas, it is important that growers base their culling decision on scientifically-based information in order not to discard commercially-suitable seed.

This project will evaluate the growth performance of various size grades of oysters from the same year class originating from two different New Brunswick seed sources. Four size grades of oysters will also be reared using two grow-out systems (i.e., floating bags and rope-grown) and exposed to different localized environmental conditions (e.g., offshore vs. inshore wave activity). Comparing the growth and survival profiles of these various size groups will allow us to determine an appropriate strategy for identifying and culling true "slow" growers.

Small oyster glued on rope

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd, Shippagan, NB
Project team:Marie-Hélène Thériault (DFO), Simon Courtenay (DFO/Canadian Rivers Institute), André Mallet (L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.), Claire Carver (L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.)
Contact:Marie-Hélène Thériault ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Optimizing shell growth performance and quality of near market-size oysters

This study evaluated the growth performance of various size classes of near market-size oysters deployed in different grow-out systems and environmental conditions. Fouling control techniques and grading strategies were also investigated with the aim of augmenting the production of market-size oysters.

Oyster growth trials suggested that the growing conditions in the inshore zone were superior (i.e., higher temperature and particulate organic matter) to those in the offshore zone. Poor growth of the 50-55 mm size group relative to the three smaller size groups in the offshore zone was tentatively attributed to shell damage associated with wave exposure. Fouling control trials indicated that brine-dipping followed by 24 h air exposure was effective in eliminating oyster spat and juvenile mussels. Mussel fouling on gear was consistently lower in warmer inshore zones where water temperature exceeded 25°C. Finally, this study indicated that the shells of > 50 mm oysters were negatively impacted by mechanical grading. Bags left untouched over a 2 yr period yielded a similar or higher number of market-size oysters than those graded in the fall or the spring, but the oysters had a higher incidence of boring sponge infection.

Apr. 2007 – Mar. 2009 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.
Project team: Marie-Hélène Thériault (DFO), Simon Courtenay (DFO/Canadian Rivers Institute), André Mallet (L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.), Claire Carver (L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd.)
Contact:Marie-Hélène Thériault ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Oysters labeled to monitor growth performance

Comparison of an offshore and inshore site for oyster aquaculture using the French string technique in the Baie des Chaleurs

In New Brunswick, the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) has been cultured in suspended gear such as floating Vexar™ bags and Dark Sea™ trays, which contribute to reducing the time needed for oysters to reach market size (shell length 65-75 mm for cocktail category or > 76 mm). The gear is typically suspended from longlines but during the winter months they are lowered to avoid the ice. Another oyster suspension culture technique developed in Mediterranean France (Étang de Thau) was slightly modified and tested in northern New Brunswick with results that rival those of the techniques presently practiced in the area. The French string technique consists of gluing oysters on strings with a special cement mixture and hanging the strings vertically from a raft anchored on the bottom. The modified technique still requires that oysters be glued on strings with the strings held horizontally in a rigid frame. In 2009, a new study was launched to assess the performance of oysters that are glued on strings and cultured in suspension on two leases: 1) an exposed offshore environment near Stonehaven, New Brunswick; and 2) a sheltered inshore environment in Caraquet Bay, New Brunswick with respect to their ability to rapidly attain market size. Also, oceanic parameters such as currents and temperature were monitored at both sites. In New Brunswick, culturing oysters offshore had not been investigated prior to this study. The growth rate of oysters grown offshore is not as fast as those cultured inshore; nonetheless, oyster offshore culture can be done.

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)
Project team: Leslie-Ann Davidson (DFO)
Contact: Leslie-Ann Davidson ( /aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.html

Winter physiology of the American Oyster

We are monitoring various chemical parameters in the tissue of American Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) over-wintered at sea, in tanks, and in cold storage. We selected parameters likely to cause physiological stress and to alter the flavour of the oysters. We are also studying valve opening behaviour using Hall elements attached to the shell. Our preliminary results suggest that, during winter, the valves open almost imperceptibly in oysters held at sea and in tanks. In the spring, valve activity is triggered when the water temperature reaches 1 to 7°C, depending on the individual. Valve activity does not appear to be related to chlorophyll-a fluctuations in the water. Acidification, increased osmolarity, and buildup of ammonia in intravalve water were noted during the winter. This was much more pronounced in oysters held in cold storage than in the other two groups. Digestive gland lipids were the most important energy reserve used by the oysters during winter.

Oyster valve activity measurement

Feb. 2010 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: DFO - Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Inc.
Project team: Elise Mayrand (U of Moncton), Luc Comeau (DFO), André Mallet (L'Étang Ruisseau Bar Inc.)
Contact: Elise Mayrand ( /aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.html

Conditioning of American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) broodstock using artificial feed

Shellfish hatchery culture relies on mass-production of live microalgae, which represents 30-50% of the hatchery operating costs. Live food production has a significant role in the conditioning of broodstock, larval development and spat grow-out of shellfish. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of dry algae and dry enrichment feed mixtures on the conditioning of adult American Oyster and performance of their progeny. The dry feed products were from Skretting's Ori-GO series. Two mixtures (90% dry algae: 10% enrichment; 70% dry algae: 30% enrichment) were compared with a live algal diet. All groups spawned successfully. Fecundity ranged from 3 to 7 million per treatment with the highest numbers observed in the live algal group. Hatching rates ranged from 80 to 90% for all treatments. Overall, the best larval growth was observed in the 90/10 group which also had the highest mortality (59%) compared with the other groups (39%). The number of competent larvae and the percentage of settling were the same for all treatments. This study indicates that oyster broodstock can be conditioned with artificial feed, produces viable larvae and reduces production costs of hatchery seeds.

Nov. 2009 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, Skretting North America
Project team: Chantal Gionet (CZRI), Mélanie Degrâce (CZRI), Mathieu Landry (CZRI), Steven Mallet (CZRI), Maryline Godin (CZRI), Josée Duguay (CZRI)
Contact: Chantal Gionet (

Oyster larvae

American Oyster breeding program in NB

Over the last 5 years, the Coastal Zones Research Institute (CZRI) began a genetic selection program to improve performance of the American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) within the framework of the Atlantic Innovation Fund (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency). The objective of the program was to determine, in collaboration with the industry, whether the characters selected, e.g., growth and survival, could be improved on different grow-out sites. This project allowed us to produce two cohorts of first generation (F1) in 2005 and 2007. Fourteen families were produced and put in culture, and differences in growth performances were observed between some of them. Certain families grew between 10 to 21% faster than the oyster spats collected in the wild. These results are encouraging and unique in North America. The establishment of this genetic selection program is a robust and valuable asset for the development of the shellfish industry, not only in New Brunswick, but also throughout Atlantic Canada.

One-year-old oysters

2005 – 2010 • Funded by: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (Atlantic Innovation Fund Program), New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, New Brunswick shellfish growers
Project team: Chantal Gionet (CZRI), Fabrice Pernet (IFREMER/LER/LR,Sète), Réjean Tremblay (ISMER/UQAR), Jean-Marie Sevigny (DFO - MLI), Steven Mallet (CZRI), Gilles David (CZRI), Daniel Chiasson (CZRI), France Béland (CZRI), Mélanie Degrace (CZRI), Mathieu Landry (CZRI), Maryline Godin (CZRI),Josée Duguay (CZRI)
Contact: Chantal Gionet (

Stocking lobster as a tool for increasing stocks

The Maritime Fishermen's Union (MFU) and its partners have initiated a project to determine the potential of stocking stage IV lobster (Homarus americanus) larvae to maintain and improve lobster stocks. The MFU has established a partnership with the Coastal Zones Research Institute (CZRI) for this purpose. The mandate of the CZRI is to develop effective techniques that are easily transferable to fishermen's groups wishing to produce their own larvae. The CZRI must also produce a sufficient number of larvae for before-after control-impact (BACI) studies in order to assess stocking as a tool for increasing lobster stocks in various regions. The CZRI researchers have developed culture techniques and a feeding strategy to improve the growth and survival of stage IV larvae. Larval production rose from 1,500 in 2002 to over 350,000 in 2008. Since 2004, with the number of larvae produced, it has been possible to conduct BACI studies in three different regions. These studies have confirmed that stocking is an effective tool, contributing to increasing stocks. Work is ongoing in order to continue to improve culture techniques.

Lobster stage IV

Apr. 2002 – ongoing • Funded by: Homarus Inc.
Project team: Rémy Haché (CZRI), Yves Hébert (IRZC), Caroline Roussel (IRZC), Rémi Benoit (IRZC), Martin Mallet (Homarus Inc.)
Contact: Rémy Haché (

Impact of epibiont control treatments on the survival and condition of American Oysters

We compared the effects of two epibiont control treatments on survival and condition in American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica). Hot-water treatment conditions were set at 60°C for 15 s. Mortality was higher in juvenile oysters subjected to hot-water or dessication treatments than in adults subjected to the same treatments. The effect of hot-water treatment on juveniles varied over time: mortality reached 50% in June compared to 11% in August. Mortality remained below 5% in adult controls, in adult oysters subjected to dessication treatment and in adult oysters subjected to hot-water treatment. The treatments did not affect shell growth or tissue condition in either juveniles or adults. The destabilization of lysosomal membranes in red blood cells was of little use as an early indicator of stress in oysters because it was too sensitive to various physiological or environmental factors.

May 2008 – Dec. 2010 • Funded by: DFO - Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Acadian Aquaculture
Project team: Luc Comeau (DFO), Elise Mayrand (U of Moncton), Maurice Daigle (Acadian Aquaculture)
Contact: Luc Comeau ( /aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.html

Technologies essential to commercializing lobster larvae hatcheries

In 2010, the Coastal Zones Research Institute (CZRI), in collaboration with its commercial partner, Homarus Inc., began a major applied research project aimed at reducing the cost of producing stage IV lobster (Homarus americanus) larvae for use in stocking. The project is funded in part by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC, Industrial Research Assistance Program). Having demonstrated in a previous project that the stocking of lobster larvae has a positive impact on wild stocks, Homarus Inc. must now make larvae production a viable commercial operation. The CZRI is currently developing technologies for achieving commercially viable production costs by using its expertise in the area of marine organism larval production. Technologies include the installation of tanks specifically for the culture of lobster larvae, an automatic collection system, the development of standardized techniques, and the improvement of broodstock management. On completion of the project, Homarus Inc. and its commercial partners will be in a position to implement the first commercial hatcheries devoted to the production of lobster larvae for stocking.

Jun. 2010 – Dec. 2011 • Funded by: Homarus Inc., National Research Council Canada (Industrial Research Assistance Program), New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries (Total Development Fund), New Brunswick Regional Development Corporation (Northern Economic Development Fund)
Project team: Rémy Haché (CZRI), Yves Hébert (CZRI), Caroline Roussel (CZRI), Rémi Benoit (CZRI), Martin Mallet (Homarus Inc.)
Contact: Rémy Haché (

Innovative tunicate treatment systems for mussel farming in PEI

This one-year project had a number of components aimed at the development and evaluation of equipment designed to mitigate the impact of the solitary and colonial tunicate species present in mussel farms. The original objectives of the project were to develop colonial tunicate treatment systems and a platform for the treatment of various tunicate species. The final objective of the project was to develop the existing treatment equipment to the point where the pre-marketing phase could begin. The overall project objectives were met. Through the project, two innovative systems for the treatment of colonial tunicates were developed using treatment technologies that can be employed in and out of the water. A safer version of a high-pressure sprayer system already in use was developed by means of an innovative nozzle configuration. A complete equipment carrier was developed to help mussel farmers with the treatment of the various tunicate species present in their farms.

The provision of finalized, endorsed, and standardized drawings for each of the treatment systems of this project will give mussel farmers a guide to the building of new systems. These drawings will enable mussel farmers to develop new systems and to communicate their needs to the equipment manufacturers.

July 2009 – July 2010 • Funding: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Prince Edward Island Aquaculture Alliance (PEIAA), PEIDFARD, Fundy Engineering
Project team: Jarrod Gunn-McQuillan (PEIAA), Peter Warris (PEIAA), Jennifer LaRosa (PEIAA), Linda Duncan (PEIAA), Stephen Fortune (Blue Bucks Inc.), Carl Reynolds (Reynolds Island Mussel Company Ltd.), Wayne Chiasson (amp;R Fisheries), Hal Publicover (W&R Fisheries), Jason Simpson (W&R Fisheries), Neil MacNair (PEIDFARD), Kim Gill (PEIDFARD), Brian Gillis (PEIDFARD), Peter McKelvey (Fundy Engineering)

Tunicate treatment

Monitoring for invasive tunicate eggs and larvae

Molecular assays have been successfully created that can detect eggs and larvae of five species of invasive tunicates in environmental water samples (Ciona intestinalis, Styela clava, Botryllus schlosseri, Botrylloides violaceus, and Diplosoma listerianum). These assays have a high specificity and sensitivity, and can consistently detect as little as 1 egg or larvae/450 litres of environmental water samples. These assays have been used to screen water samples for invasive tunicate propagules in waters surrounding shellfish aquaculture in Atlantic Canada in order to facilitate the early detection of new invasions and to monitor for seasonal reproduction in established invasions. This level of screening is currently assisting the PEI mussel industry in managing tunicate invasions in shellfish regions. The assays are high-throughput and are now available as a service through the AVC Shellfish Research Group.

Jan. 2007 – Sep. 2010 • Funded by: Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN)
Project team: Sarah Stewart-Clark (UPEI, Atlantic Veterinary College),Jessica Willis (UPEI, Atlantic Veterinary College), Jeff Davidson (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Spencer Greenwood (UPEI, Atlantic Veterinary College)
Contact: Sarah Stewart-Clark (

Christine Paetzold (researcher) diving with collector set

Techniques and mitigation strategies for managing invasive tunicate species fouling aquaculture farms

The PEI Aquaculture Alliance and the University of PEI are collaborating on an Atlantic Innovation Fund Project addressing the detection, prevention and treatment of invasive tunicates.

Our detection team is developing a rapid tunicate diagnostic field kit using tunicate DNA and RNA. The prevention team is identifying and characterizing potential antifouling compounds that can be incorporated into aquaculture gear.

Research on mitigation strategies for tunicates on mussel aquaculture leases is being conducted by the treatment team. Projects include examining new treatment agents and methods to be applied to settled tunicates, improving mussel attachment strength while decreasing tunicate settlement, and optimizing existing treatment strategies and husbandry techniques used by mussel growers. An example of improving husbandry techniques is the determination of the optimal treatment start date and frequency. Since treatments are costly and labour-intensive, minimizing their frequency translates into decreased expenses for the mussel industry

Histopathological changes in tunicates caused by chemical treatments and the seasonal mortality of tunicates during winter months are also being evaluated. Knowledge of why and when tunicate populations die back during late winter is valuable for predicting such mortality events and avoiding the cost of potentially redundant treatments of mussel lines in the fall.

Jun. 2007 – Jun. 2011 • Funded by: PEI Aquaculture Alliance (PEIAA), Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency / Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), University of Prince Edward Island, PEI Atlantic Shrimp Corporation Inc., Aquaculture and Fisheries Research Initiative, PEI Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Project team: Russ Kerr (UPEI), Jeff Davidson (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Ahmed Siah (UPEI), PEI Aquaculture Alliance
Contact: Jarrod Gunn-McQuillan (

Update of the PEI Shellfish Aquaculture Environmental Codes of Practice (SAECOP)

The objective of this one year project was to review the PEI Shellfish Aquaculture Environmental Codes of Practice (SAECOP) and identify any gaps and updates needed to ensure the continued viability of the industry, through the maintenance of a healthy environment in which to operate in and the continued confidence of government and consumers in the industry. As a living document, the codes of practice will continue to accommodate changes in aquaculture technology and practices. There are currently 278 signatories, to the SAECOP, the majority of whom are working shellfish farmers.

Originally put in place in 2002, SAECOP consists of guidelines, primarily for off-bottom and water-column shellfish aquaculture, which outline recommended practices and to help ensure the industry maintains: environmental responsibility; economic viability; and maximum product quality.

Oct. 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: PEI Atlantic Shrimp Corp., Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), PEI Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development
Project team: Peter Warris (R&, PEI Aquaculture Alliance), Crystal MacDonald (Carpe Diem Consulting)
Contact: Peter Warris (

Spain raft LIIST

Production of mussels – mitigation and feed for husbandry (MUMIHUS)

Many coastal water bodies have problems with eutrophication and hypoxia due to nutrient loading. Cultured shellfish are well known to be able to mitigate eutrophication via phytoplankton removal. A research program in coastal Denmark is aimed at culturing shellfish for nitrogen removal in the form of their tissue biomass. In addition to seafood value, this protein may be fed to farm animals such as pigs. The original fertilizer nitrogen is thus removed from the marine system, and recycled to agriculture, reducing the requirement for new nitrogen input. Both field and modeling campaigns with international teams have been established at mussel farms in the Limfjord to investigate this approach. The application of nitrogen and carbon trading to aquaculture will become increasingly important. Mitigation strategies involving this approach can be utilized in regions such as PEI where nutrient loading from aquaculture is already attenuated by mussel culture.

2009 – 2011 • Funded by: Danish Council for Strategic Research
Project team: Jens Petersen (Danish Shellfish Center), Jon Grant (Dalhousie University)
Contact: Jon Grant (

Ecological Sustainability of Suspended Mussel Aquaculture (ESSMA)

The ESSMA project addresses science needs generated by maritime regulatory policies in Canada and the European Union related to ecosystem-based management. This project is designed to provide scientific knowledge, sustainability indicators, modeling capacity, sustainable ecological engineering approaches to farm management, and expertise that can meet the demands of large-scale mussel aquaculture assessments. Studies in multiple geographic settings enhance our overall predictive capacity, which lead to a more generic assessment capacity. Project objectives include the development of methods for estimating and optimizing suspended bivalve production at the coastal ecosystem-scale while maintaining ecological integrity. Sustainability issues specific to the mussel culture industry will be assessed based on observations of bivalve interactions with pelagic systems over different spatial scales (culture unit to bay) using food depletion criteria, carrying capacity model predictions, and Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) concepts and approaches. Farm and ecosystem model predictions will be validated using results from high resolution, bay-scale food depletion mapping. The development of IMTA concepts and approaches specific to the mussel culture industry would help to achieve a balance between commercial production and environmental sustainability.

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation
Project team: P. Cranford (DFO), S. Robinson (DFO), M.J. Fernández-Reiriz, U. Labarta, C. Gonzalez-Castro, S. Piedracoba, X.A. Alvarez-Salgado (Consejo Superiour de Investigaciones Cientificas, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, Spain), P. Duarte (Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Portugal), Proinsa mussel farms (Spain)
Contact: Peter Cranford (

Interactions of mussel aquaculture and American Lobster in Eastern Newfoundland

Lobster landings in parts of eastern Newfoundland, Canada have declined in recent years. Fishers have suggested that these declines may be the result of the growing mussel aquaculture industry in the area. This study investigates interactions between mussel (Mytilus edulis) aquaculture farms and American Lobster (Homarus americanus) populations in eastern Newfoundland. Long-term temperature data, chlorophyll-a, mussel biomass and meat yield as well as lobster licensing and lobster landing data were analyzed for relationships in an area with and without mussel aquaculture farms in Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland. Lobster landings declined in both areas during the period studied as did the yield from mussel farms. It is therefore unlikely that mussel farms are the direct cause of the decline in lobster populations. Significant relationships between surface temperature and lobster landings suggest that interdecadal changes in temperature may be affecting lobster landings. Primary production as indicated by chlorophyll-a has been decreasing in the study area affecting food availability for both lobster populations and farmed mussels. Environmental change such as temperature and food availability may also be driving the lobster into deeper waters in search for more favourable conditions. Time lagged relationships between temperature and landings were not significant, suggesting that climatic factors influence landings through adult behaviour and not larval recruitment.

Lobster traps

Sept. 2009 – Sept. 2010 • Funded by:Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador (MUN), Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Project team: Allison Foster (MUN), M. Robin Anderson (DFO), Cyr Couturier (MUN)
Contact: Cyr Couturier (

The mussel seed project

In support of development within the blue mussel aquaculture sector, the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) is finishing five successful years of investigation of potential and existing mussel seed sources. This initiative titled "Enhancing Sustainable Mussel Industry Production and Growth through Assessment and Removal of Constraints in Seed Supply" (aka the Mussel Seed Project) addresses one of the long-term priorities identified by our mussel growers: the assurance that a consistent supply of good quality mussel seed is readily available to the industry. The project has examined the potential for seed collection in several areas of Placentia Bay, Bonavista Bay and Notre Dame Bay.

To date, analysis of collection effort (amount of seed collected at each site), morphometric analysis (shell length, depth and width, shell strength, cavity volume, etc.), growth analysis and genetic species composition analysis (PCR analysis of "glu-5" and "ITS" DNA markers) have been performed for numerous potential and existing mussel seed sites.

This year we will be completing the evaluation of seed collected in 2008 and 2009 and compiling a comprehensive project report which will include recommendations on seed collection areas in Newfoundland.

Sept. 2010 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA), NRC-IRAP, MI, DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI), Memorial University
Project team: Heather Manuel (MI-CASD), Tracy Granter (MI-CASD), Christopher Dawe (MI-CASD), Kiley Best (MI-CASD), Darrell Green (NAIA)
Contact: Darrell Green (

Newfoundland mussels

New hydraulic systems used to handle blue mussel seed

Blue mussel seed collection, stripping, grading, and socking operations are the most costly and labour-intensive activities on a mussel farm in Newfoundland and Labrador. Seed is handled multiple times and is stored on working platforms for extended periods of time while individual pieces of equipment are installed and removed. Configuration and design of hydraulic systems used by all growers are considered inadequate for the full demands of blue mussel aquaculture. Typically, each piece of equipment has its own hydraulics package to power the equipment. A new hydraulic system was tested in spring 2009 that had the oil capacity to operate multiple hydraulic motors at any given time. This process enabled automation of the seed collection to seed socking operation and significantly reduced the cost of production. Seed collection-stripping-grading-socking trials revealed socking capacity of 250 trays per day or approximately 25,000 lbs of seed socked per day. Currently this has increased to 350 trays per day, represents an improvement of double the socking capacity over the previous process.

Jul. 2008 – Nov. 2009 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), LBA Enterprises Ltd.
Project team: Gilbert Simms (LBA Enterprises Ltd.), Scott Simms (LBA Enterprises Ltd.), John Pelly Jr. (Western Hydraulics)
Contact: Chris Hendry ( Results of the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program

The impact of long-term holding on cultured mussels post-harvest in Newfoundland

The Newfoundland mussel culture industry is poised to undergo a period of significant expansion in production due to increased utilization of existing approved culture sites as well as the development of new sites throughout the province. This expansion will cause increased availability of harvested fresh product. In many cases the product may not immediately go to market but will be required to be held at processing facilities or other holding facilities while awaiting transport. The length of stay in a holding facility may be determined by a number of factors including the immediate availability of buyers, delays of transport due to weather or mechanical issues plus others. Unfortunately, storage of mussels over longer periods has been found to result in reduced meat yield and quality, spawning, decreased shell strength and mortality. All of these issues will cause loss in market value and ultimately loss of profit for the grower. An evaluation of the effects of long-term storage on the mussel is necessary in order to understand their causes and ultimately develop solutions to these problems.

In this study researchers are focused on the measurement of morphometrical parameters, histological features, meat quality, mortality, genotype profile, immune function and physiological stress of blue mussels under current industrial standards for long-term holding. Comparisons will be made between mussels held for specific time periods (1 week, 1 month, and 3 months) under standard conditions and those prior to harvest. Identical measurements will be made on samples of mussels harvested during different times of the year and held under similar conditions (i.e., spring, summer, fall, and winter). This work will allow researchers to provide information to growers regarding the effects of holding stress on mussel health and ultimately information on how long mussels can effectively be kept in holding and still maintain the necessary product quality.

Laboratory analysis of mussels

Apr. 2010 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Norlantic Processors Ltd.
Project team: Harry M. Murray (DFO), Jessica Wyatt (DFO/MUN), Sharon Kenny (DFO), Kim Hobbs (DFO), Gehan Mabrouk (DFO), Terry Mills (Norlantic Processors Ltd.)
Contact: Harry Murray ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Mussel seed performance after transfer from two donor sites to a new recipient site

The mussel culture industry in Newfoundland has historically been centred on the northeast coast of the island, primarily in Notre Dame Bay. The majority of seed spat collection and grow out has occurred in this area. A recent realization that expansion of the industry is eminent has stimulated a need for new and consistent sources of high quality seed. It is thought that quality and quantity of this seed source maybe a constraint restricting expansion of the industry.

Newfoundland is known to be a zone of hybridization between two mussel species, Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus. Previous work has suggested that seed from populations composed primarily of M. edulis would provide a more market acceptable product at harvest.

Comparisons of the performance of these species consistently show that the culture of unispecific M. edulis stocks have great potential to improve industry-wide production and product quality and reduce inter-site variability in market acceptable characteristics. Unfortunately, transfers of seed stock from areas containing primarily M. edulis into areas containing indigenous mixed-species stocks has shown that M. edulis do not always out-perform the indigenous mixed population. It is speculated that genetic variation within the M. edulis genotype may be part of the cause. It is clear that a need exists to both identify sources of unispecific or high ratio M. edulis stocks and to test their performance on recipient sites in order to determine their potential as donor seed stocks.

Blue Mussel, Mytilus edulis

In light of these needs, a study was initiated to examine the genotypic profile, morphometrical characteristics and growth rates of two distinct new potential seed stock sources in Newfoundland and evaluate their performance at a recipient site in comparison to an indigenous seed source from the recipient site.

Performance results from the study indicated that donor sites for seed transfer operations should be evaluated individually for performance parameters and/or managed to the extent where only the best final product is made available to on growing and market. The feasibility of these types of evaluations on the large-scale is questionable; however, it would seem that enough data now exists from site genotyping profiles around the province of Newfoundland to allow for a good prediction of seed performance and quality based on the proportion M. edulis to M. trossulus present in the population.

Sept. 2009 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA)
Project team: Harry Murray (DFO), Randy Penney (DFO), Marsha Clark (DFO), Dwight Drover (DFO), Sharon Kenny (DFO), Sean Macneill (DFO), Kim Hobbs (DFO), Gehan Mabrouk (DFO)
Contact: Harry Murray ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Sampling oceanographic characteristics

Survey of seed availability and quality from a number of bays in Newfoundland

The mussel culture industry has become a significant contributor to total aquaculture production in Newfoundland. In 2009, 51 commercial mussel sites were recorded giving a total of 3689 hectares of area dedicated to production. Expansion of the industry is eminent and as a result has stimulated a need for new and consistent sources of high quality seed. It is thought that quality and quantity of these seed sources may be a constraint restricting expansion of the industry.

Newfoundland is known to be a zone of hybridization between two species of mussel, i.e., Mytilus edulis and M. trossulus. Comparative studies of the morphometrical characteristics of these species indicate that M. trossulus has lower shell and meat growth than M. edulis as well as increased rates of shell breakage and colour variation inconsistent with market needs. The geographical distribution of these species and their hybrids in Atlantic Canada is primarily based on genetic differences. These observations suggest that seed from populations composed primarily of M. edulis would provide a more market-acceptable product at harvest.

As part of a study to investigate and evaluate new potential mussel seed sources in Newfoundland, a survey was initiated to provide a general overview of the genotypic profile (species profile) and morphometrical characteristics of mussels from various selected sites around the island. Species composition of samples collected from potential seed stock sources was determined by two diagnostic markers, Me15/16 and ITS using PCR and Restriction Fragment length analysis. Standard morphological measurements were also completed for all samples. The majority of sites examined had a species composition of greater than 90% M. edulis for both markers. Morphometrical measurement showed considerable sample variation among sites.

Mussel socks

Data collected from this survey will provide growers with information valuable in selecting and managing new seed collection sites.

Apr. 2008 - Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA)
Project team: Harry Murray (DFO), Randy Penney (DFO), Marsha Clark (DFO), Dwight Drover (DFO), Sharon Kenny (DFO), Sean Macneill (DFO), Kim Hobbs (DFO),Gehan Mabrouk (DFO)
Contact: Harry Murray ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

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