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Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2013

Finfish – Marine

Innovations in Atlantic Halibut broodstock conditioning and holding

Scotian Halibut Limited (SHL) proposes to use innovative broodstock management techniques in order to maximize the growth of their sexually mature fish and therefore shorten the time it takes for them to become effective contributors of gametes for commercial juvenile production. This will require installation of an improved broodstock conditioning/holding system. This system will provide an environment for the cultured broodstock that lets them go through their reproductive cycles with minimum stress but increases the number of degree days available for growth.

SHL intends to build enough tank capacity to hold the stocks selected for integration into the broodstock program which have previously shown signs of reproductive development, such as release of gametes or swelling of ovaries. This represents the first step towards bringing the process of broodstock conditioning to a commercial level. Additional tanks are anticipated to be needed in future years as more of the selected broodstock become sexually mature.

The installation of this system will allow SHL to take advantage of its breeding program in less time than would occur through conventional means. It will allow more rapid availability of domesticated halibut stock for aquaculture which will increase its competitiveness as well as that of its Canadian clients on the global marketplace.

apr. 2012 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: ACOA – Atlantic Innovation Fund; Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development

project lead: Brian Blanchard (Scotian Halibut Ltd.)

Project team: Melissa Rommens, Shelley Leblanc,
Philip Nickerson, Peter Corey (Scotian Halibut Ltd.)

collaborators: Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries
and Aquaculture


Nursery tank system modified for broodstock holding

Development of diet and feeding regimes for Copper Rockfish larvae

Copper Rockfish, Sebastes caurinus, are native to British Columbia and have excellent potential for aquaculture. Previous research (unpublished) has shown that diets with optimal protein:lipid ratios and high DHA content can provide the necessary nutrition to support the culture of Copper Rockfish. In addition, our research has shown that photoperiod manipulation can significantly improve growth performance. There are, however, hatchery production problems that need to be resolved before commercial rockfish aquaculture can be undertaken. In this regard, there is a need to establish reliable protocols for the rearing of larvae from parturition to the juvenile stage. The goal of this research project is to develop a feeding regime for Copper Rockfish larvae that will support good growth performance and survival up to the fry stage.

apr. 2011 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Totem Sea Farms Inc.

project lead: Ian Forster (DFO)

Project team: Shannon Balfry (UBC); Jeff Marlaive (Vancouver Aquarium)

collaborators: Gus Angus (Totem Sea Farms Inc.)


Cooper Rockfish female ready to spawn

Optimization of growth performance in intensively cultured wolf eels

The Wolf Eels are potential candidates for commercial sustainable aquaculture. Recently, it has been demonstrated that Wolf Eel reproduction can be manipulated with the use of hormone implants, which will aid tremendously in the development of broodstock programs and production timelines. Husbandry protocols, however, need to be developed to establish optimal rearing conditions for Wolf Eels. In this regard, new research has indicated that feeding regimes and rations can be manipulated to optimize growth performance and feed conversion. However, while increasing ration can improve growth rate, feed conversion is not necessarily improved. Additional research studies suggest that a slow gastric evacuation rate may be a contributing factor. Other research aimed at developing husbandry protocols has shown that juvenile Wolf Eels can be raised at very high densities (>40 kg/m3) without any adverse effects on growth performance or health. Further research is required to develop husbandry protocols that will improve growth and health performance, and determine if an economically viable aquaculture industry for Wolf Eels is feasible.

apr. 2011 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Island Scallops Ltd.

project lead: Steve MacDonald (DFO)

Project team: Shannon Balfry (UBC); Jeff Marliave (Vancouver Aquarium)

collaborators: Rob Saunders (Island Scallops Ltd.)


Wolf Eels in the culture raceway

Sablefish nutrition research: protein and energy needs

The goal of this project is to provide information for the development of improved feeds for expansion of viable and sustainable aquaculture production of Sablefish in BC. The study consists of three experiments that will provide information concerning: 1) the impact of dietary lipid level on growth rate of sablefish during the “slow-growth” period of 1-1.5 kg; 2) optimize dietary fish oil and fishmeal utilization for growth of this species, as opposed to the use of plant based oils; and 3) reducing the fishmeal in Sablefish grow out diets. Data collection for trials 1 and 3 are continuing, but the results of trial 2 indicated that the best growth of juvenile fish was achieved using very high lipid (approx. 33%) and fishmeal (43%) levels and low carbohydrate. This information is useful to the feed industry to improve production of a high value native food fish.

apr. 2010 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Sable Fish Canada Inc.

project lead: Ian Forster (DFO)

Project team: Mahmoud Rowshandeli (DFO); Jamie Bridge (Sable Fish Canada Inc.)

collaborators: Briony Campbell (Sable Fish Canada Inc.)


Sablefish in rearing tank after being fed

Fertilization strategies for Winter Flounder: Effects of sperm density and the duration of gamete receptivity

Winter Flounder is one of the most commonly used models for studying fish biology in North America; however, little is known about their reproductive ecology, especially during the spawning event. The objectives of this research were to determine the optimal number of spermatozoa required to fertilize eggs and explore how long spermatozoa (30-240 s post-activation) and eggs (30-7680s post-activation) are receptive to fertilization after exposure to seawater. We conducted experiments using gametes from wild-caught fish and measured fertilization success by examining eggs at 5-6 days post-fertilization. On average 34,038 sperm cells per egg were required to fertilize 81.3% of the eggs. Duration after spermatozoa activation had an effect on the proportion of eggs fertilized. At 30 s post-spermatozoa activation 98% of the eggs were fertilized. After 60 s, a significant decrease in fertilization success was detected. Duration following egg exposure to seawater had an effect on the proportion of eggs fertilized. Between 30 and 1920 s after exposure to seawater the percentage of eggs fertilized ranged from 61 to 90%. A significant decrease to 11% occurred at 3840 s after egg exposure. These results will have implications for optimizing fertilization protocols for hatchery production and management of sperm banks.

jan. 2006 – jan. 2012

Funded by: NSERC; AquaNet; New Brunswick Innovation Fund (NBIF); NB Ministry of Research and Innovation co-funded by: George Guptill (Bayshore Lobster Ltd.)

project lead: Ian A.E. Butts (U. Windsor)

Project team: Paymon Roustaian (UNB); Matthew Litvak (Mount Allison University)


Winter flounder sperm collection
Winter Flounder broodstock
Winter Flounder embryos

Construction and testing of first generation modular system with environmental controls for LIVE transport of Sablefish

Sable Fish Canada will design, construct, and test an innovative, modular, environmentally controlled transportation system specifically designed for Sablefish and suitable for other aquaculture species with minor modifications. For Sablefish, this project will address the losses incurred during transportation of both juveniles from the hatchery to the farm and larger fish for the live fish market in the lower mainland and abroad.

The biological and environmental requirements of Sablefish are much different than those of Atlantic Salmon. Using systems developed for Atlantic and Pacific Salmon species, juvenile Sablefish transport mortalities averaged 10% in 2010 and were sometimes much higher. The live market transport mortalities can be up to 100%. Mortalities were all due to lack of control over key environmental parameters or equipment failure during transportation.

This project will construct and test an innovative modular environmentally-controlled transport system specifically designed for Sablefish. The system will reduce transport mortality for juveniles to less than 3% and eliminate transport mortality of larger fish to the live market. In addition, the transport system will allow for access to new markets and increase of exports to Asia. Without development of this system, it would be very difficult to increase production or maintain sustainability in the industry.

apr. 2012 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP)

project lead: Bruce Morton (Sable Fish Canada Inc.)

Project team: Briony Campbell, Jamie Bridge, Terry Brooks (Sable Fish Canada Inc.); Linda Hiemstra (Mel Mor Science); Brad Hicks (Taplow Feeds); Eric MacGregor (Versatile Refrigeration); Kan Ogata (Aquamarine Global Seafood Distribution)

collaborators: BC Sustainable Sablefish Association; Aquamarine Global Seafood Distribution


The effect of dietary supplementation with zooplankton or fish protein hydrolysate on Atlantic Cod production traits and physiology

It is not known how/why feeding zooplankton vs rotifers/Artemia, or adding protein hydrolysate to larval diets, improves cod growth performance. To address this issue, a large multi-disciplinary project titled: “Diet and the Early Development of Atlantic Cod” is currently being conducted. This MSc thesis research is a component of the above project and examines the effects of partial diet supplementation with zooplankton and fish protein hydrolysate on cod production traits (growth, survival, deformities) and how growth relates to the cod’s physiology (i.e., metabolism and stress response) and the expression of growth and appetite regulating genes.

Atlantic Cod larvae were fed 3 different diets: enriched rotifers/Artemia (RA); RA + fish protein hydrolysate (RA-PH) 3 days per week until weaning; and RA supplemented with 5 — 10% wild caught zooplankton (RA-Zoo) until 30 dph (days post-hatch).

Cod from the RA-Zoo group were 31% heavier at 190 dph, and this was primarily due to accelerated growth (by approx. 2% day-1) during the early developmental stages (0 — 60 days post-hatch). In contrast, growth in the RA-PH group was similar to the RA group but with lower survival and the highest incidence of deformities (primarily lordosis). Metabolic parameters (resting and maximum metabolic rate and metabolic scope), and pre- and post-stress cortisol levels were similar in juvenile cod from the RA and RA-Zoo groups. The absence of a treatment effect on juvenile physiology is consistent with the lack of a growth rate advantage in the RA-Zoo group during this period. The effects of the various diets on growth- and appetite-related gene expression are currently being examined.

Our results indicate that: 1) 5 — 10% supplementation with zooplankton can significantly increase the growth rate of cod, but that this accelerated growth is limited to the larval period; and 2) not all protein hydrolysate formulations have beneficial effects on fish growth performance.

sep. 2011 – mar. 2014

Funded by: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA); Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC); Newfoundland Cod Broodstock Company

project lead: Tomer Katan (MUN)

Project team: Kurt Gamperl, Chris Parrish, Matthew Rise, Gordon Nash (MUN); Danny Boyce (OSC)


Experimental tanks at the Joe Brown Aquatic Research Building

Marine hatchery water conditioning module

Sable Fish Canada Ltd. was awarded $200,000 in AIMAP funding to help build a Marine Hatchery Water Conditioning Module for the purpose of controlling temperature and salinity of hatchery culture water, recovering waste heat generated by a chiller, and recycling used incubation water. Slight fluctuations in temperature and salinity from optimal conditions are known to cause deformities and mortalities in juvenile fish. This innovative project constructed and implemented a novel system that delivers precise temperature and salinity conditions improving hatchery culture conditions, reducing deformities, and reducing mortalities.

This innovative equipment delivers water of various salinity levels and temperatures 24 hours a day seven days a week with 100% reliability. This project designed and tested the novel system which delivered a 50% reduction in deformities by better controlling the optimal culture environment and utilizing energy efficient technologies. Sable Fish Canada Ltd. believe this technology has good potential to become an industry standard for all new marine fish hatcheries.

Beyond Sable Fish Canada Ltd., development of the Marine Hatchery Water Conditioning Module has created an opportunity to commercialize and market the cutting edge technology globally.

APR 2011 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP)

project lead: Bruce Morton (Sable Fish Canada Ltd.)

Project team: Jamie Bridge, Briony Campbell,
Tom Schultz (Sable Fish Canada Ltd.)

collaborator: Kyuquot Checleseht First Nations


Marine Hatchery Water Conditioning Module
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