Language selection


Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2013


Ecological interactions between benthic-ranched and wild California Sea Cucumbers

In British Columbia, the California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) supports a limited, but high-value fishery. Recently, increased market prices have generated a great deal of interest in farming sea cucumbers. Many of the proponents are interested in benthic ranching on the nutrient-rich seafloor beneath existing finfish and shellfish aquaculture sites. Research is required, however, to: 1) examine growth and survivorship of sea cucumbers in this nutrient-rich zone; 2) determine the success of maintaining cultured sea cucumbers within the boundaries of the farm site, with and without fencing; and 3) address the management concern that wild (non-seeded) sea cucumbers will immigrate onto the culture site and be harvested as cultured product. We are currently undertaking research to: 1) investigate the movements of adult sea cucumbers near aquaculture sites to determine potential interactions between benthic-ranched and wild animal; 2) examine the effects of stocking density and nutrient levels on the growth and survivorship of juvenile sea cucumbers both underneath and away from shellfish farms; and 3) examine if there is a reduction in organic loading underneath shellfish farms when sea cucumbers are present.

JULY 2012 – JULY 2014

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Klahoose Shellfish Limited Partnership; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Viking Bay Ventures

project lead: Chris Pearce (DFO – PBS)

Project team: Laura Cowen, Paul van Dam-Bates (U. Victoria); Dan Curtis, Nick Duprey, Claudia Hand (DFO – PBS); Scott McKinley (UBC); Troy Bouchard (Viking Bay Ventures); Stephen Cross (Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd., UVic); Chris Roddan (Klahoose First Nation)


California Sea Cucumber

Development of a nursery heating system to increase the production and availability of seed for the BC shellfish aquaculture industry

Securing a stable supply of seed is a major constraint to continued development of the shellfish industry. Although significant hatchery capacity can be found in BC, domestic hatcheries are generally unable to compete with the price and availability of US seed.

This AIMAP project will develop and demonstrate a novel nursery heating system specifically suited for colder climates such as Canada to increase production and availability of domestic shellfish seed supplies. The project will outfit current in-ground nursery facilities with a solar powered heater along with a custom pond cover to help retain heat. Current technologies including propane are not cost effective to heat such facilities over the winter months.

It is anticipated that this project will result in reducing the cost of heating seawater enough to increase the availability of seed at a competitive price earlier in the year. Growers will be able to extend the growing season, and compete domestically with seed imported from the US. Successful development of the nursery heating system will benefit not only the company through sales of seed and increased jobs but also the entire BC shellfish farming sector due to the industry-wide need for a stable supply of seed. In addition, this project will serve as a technology demonstration project for the Pacific shellfish industry.

Apr. 2012 – Mar. 2013

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

project lead: Robert Saunders (Island Scallops Ltd.)

Project team: Yingyi Chen, Lisa Vernon, Barb Bunting (Island Scallops Ltd.)


Nutritional requirements for sustainable crayfish aquaculture in British Columbia

Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) command a high price in both foreign and domestic markets. Although this species is cultured in foreign countries, there have been few attempts to raise Signal Crayfish within their native range which extends into southern British Columbia. We are currently undertaking research to establish culture techniques for this species. This work has included: 1) developing protocols for raising juvenile crayfish from the egg stage to 1 year; 2) investigating growth and survival of juvenile crayfish raised on a “typical” reference diet and diets where a large percentage of the protein source was from sustainable ingredients (duckweed or soybean meal); and 3) determining the digestibility and therefore the potential effectiveness of these feed ingredients for adult Signal Crayfish. Recent results have shown good growth and survival of juvenile crayfish up to 1 year of age when raised in vertical incubators designed for salmon culture. Juvenile crayfish showed similar growth and survival when raised on diets where either plant (duckweed or soybean meal) or animal based (fishmeal) ingredients were used as the primary protein source. These results suggest that Signal Crayfish are a good candidate for sustainable freshwater aquaculture in British Columbia and further work examining the digestive capabilities of this species is currently underway.

JULY 2010 – JULY 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Asturia Aquaculture Crayfish Consulting; Cordova Bay Golf Course

project lead: Chris Pearce (DFO)

Project team: Dan Curtis (DFO); Zeljko Djuric (Asturia Aquaculture Crayfish Consulting); David Groves (Broken Briar Enterprises Ltd.); Dean Piller (Cordova Bay Golf Course)


Adult Signal Crayfish in a rearing tray

Are shellfish transfers a likely vector for aquatic invasive species movement from the west to the east coast of Vancouver Island?

Wild and cultured Manila Clams (Venerupis philippinarum) and Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) harvested on the west coast of Vancouver Island (VI) must be sent to processing plants on the east coast of the island since presently there are no commercial shellfish processing plants located on the west coast of VI. In the past, processors have been permitted to “wet store” large quantities of harvested shellfish in the intertidal zone next to their processing plants or on aquaculture tenures, processing shellfish as time and markets allowed. There were concerns, however, that this practice could lead to the spread of the invasive European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas), that currently only occurs on the west coast of VI, and other non-indigenous aquatic invasive species (AIS) from the west to the east coast of VI.

The project’s main objective is to assess whether shellfish as transferred by the shellfish industry and others can act as potential vectors for the spread of AIS, with particular focus on the European Green Crab, from the west to the east coast of VI. This project will quantify the potential risk of AIS spread from the west to east coast of VI associated with current shellfish transfer protocols by: 1) enumerating Green Crabs on Pacific Oysters, Manila Clams, and California Mussels from areas with Green Crab populations on the west coast of VI; 2) enumerating Green Crabs on west-coast VI shellfish products obtained from processors; and 3) building a database of the historical numbers and weight of shellfish transferred from the west coast of VI to east-coast VI processors. Currently, more research is needed in this area to assess the risk of this particular AIS vector.

June 2011 – MAR. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR) co-funded by: Mac’s Oysters Ltd.

Project lead: Chris Pearce (DFO)

Project team: Lyanne Burgoyne, Dan Curtis, Graham Gillespie, Tom Therriault, Matt Thompson, Haley Matkin (DFO)

collaborators: Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA); Mac’s Oysters Ltd.

Adult European Green Crab

Remodelling the scallop lantern net

Further expansion of the BC scallop aquaculture industry is currently constrained by the challenge of acquiring suitable new farm tenures. Growth of the industry in part relies on innovations in farming technology and increases in production efficiency. This project attempted to improve the production efficiency of scallop farming during the ocean grow-out.

The standard technique used for the grow-out of scallops in BC is the cylindrical “lantern” net. This project remodeled the traditional lantern net to increase farm efficiency and productivity without increasing farm footprint. The team designed, built and tested a new, larger-diameter lantern net in anticipation of increased capacity.

Although the new net design did not prove to be suitable for the intended purpose of growing scallops to harvest size, it did show potential for culturing smaller scallops during the intermediate growth stage. The primary problem with the net designs was that, fully loaded with large scallops and fouled by epiphytes, the nets approached the maximum swing load rate for the booms on the work boats and were not very manageable.

Further trials will continue to assess growth rate and survival of scallops in the new lantern nets, but based on area alone the new design significantly increases the capacity of a farm by at least 50%. This is a useful step forward for scallop aquaculture that increases farm productivity and decreases production cost.

Apr. 2011 – Mar. 2012

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

project lead: Rob Saunders (Island Scallops Ltd.)

Project team: Bruce Evans, Lisa Vernon (Island Scallops Ltd.)


Redesigned scallop lantern net

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

The aquaculture industry of Geoduck Clam (Panopea generosa) in British Columbia has been constrained by the lack of a reliable seed supply, indicating inadequacy with the current hatchery production strategy. This project is aimed at identifying the optimal microalgal diets and specific nutritional requirements (especially fatty acids) for larvae/seed of Geoduck Clams and ascertaining the vital nutrients imparting high nutritional value to the diets. The research will also identify optimal microalgal rations for both larvae and seed, as well as examine the optimal rearing temperature and the possibility of replacement of live microalgae with commercially-available, spray-dried, microalgal diets for the seed. 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.

Aug. 2010 – Sept. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Klahoose Shellfish Limited Partnership

project lead: Chris Pearce (DFO)

Project team: Bianca Arney (UBC); Wenshan Liu (UBC/ DFO); Ian Forster, Laurie Keddy (DFO); Chris Roddan (Klahoose First Nation)


Juvenile Geoduck Clams

Geoduck grow-out using an innovative suspended culture technique

Geoduck aquaculture in British Columbia has been challenged by a lack of sea bottom tenures and a very long growing period to reach traditional marketable size (7 — 10 years to reach (~700 g). This AIMAP project addressed both issues by employing off-bottom suspended technology to produce a new “Baby Geoduck” product. The new product has been successfully test marketed and grows to market size in 18 to 24 months.

The primary goal of this project was to develop and test the innovative approach for culturing Geoduck. The longer-term object of the project was to introduce the “Baby Geoduck” (100 — 150 g) to market. Further development of the use of the suspended, off-bottom shellfish raft system continues at the Maplestar Seafood Ltd. farm at Nanoose Bay, BC.

The project results may be of interest to shellfish farmers with existing deepwater tenures in BC, particularly those employing raft culture of oysters and mussels. Farmers may be able to diversify production with the addition of a new, high value product.

Apr. 2011 – Mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: Island Scallops Ltd.

project lead: Yu-Xin An (Maplestar Seafood Ltd.)

Project team: Francis Tran, Simon Yuan, Wenshan Liu (Maplestar Seafood Ltd.)

collaborators: Island Scallops Ltd.


A pilot-scale wet-holding installation for increasing Bay Scallop sales

To date, three issues have prevented the significant expansion of Bay Scallop culture in the Maritimes: the short shelf-life which undermines attempts to reach distant markets; the inability to survive our cold winters; and, under-developed markets.

The objective of the project is to design and install a pilot-scale wet-holding system for Bay Scallops using recirculation technology and to better define the required environmental conditions to sustain high survival. Each 1200-L holding tank will be stocked with 4 stacks of 11 Dark Sea trays containing 20 lb of Bay Scallops per tray (880 lb or 400 kg/tank). Four air injection rings were installed in each tank at the base of each stack of trays to promote water circulation and ensure adequate oxygenation. Blocks of 10 holding tanks will be coupled to a re-circulating reservoir fitted with a coupling coil to maintain constant temperature in the system. The effect of temperature and tray stocking density on survival and product quality will be evaluated. The importance of using air-lifts to re-circulate the seawater in each of the holding tanks will be tested by comparing several configurations.

The project will take place at L’Étang Ruisseau Bar in Shippagan, NB. The results from this project will be immediately evident and useable by the aquaculture industry for the marketing of Bay Scallops.

mar. 2011 – Mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: National Research Council – IRAP; Province of New Brunswick

project lead: André Mallet (L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée)

Project team: Claire Carver (Carver Marine Consulting); Claude-Henri Hébert (Losier, Larocque, Doiron, Hébert)


The ecological effects of clam harvesting by mechanical means in St Mary’s Bay, NS

Traditional hand harvesting is not considered to be a sustainable practice for providing seed for the development of clam aquaculture in Nova Scotia for various reasons, including social and economic factors. The clam aquaculture industry has experienced major challenges in the recruitment and retention of clam diggers, as well as a lack of interest from the younger employable population, resulting in an aging employee-base. Additionally, traditional hand harvesting is very labour-intensive and involves the use of a clam hake — with tines that measure about 15 cm in length, to dig up and turn over the sediment. A mechanical clam harvester has been used in Washington and British Columbia, and there is increased interest in utilizing a modified version of this harvester to compliment hand harvesting of Quahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria) in St Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia. This project will compare the ecological effect of traditional hand harvesting and a mechanical clam harvester. It will investigate the effects of each harvest technique on the ecological health and production of the area through the monitoring of the clam population, associated fauna and flora, and various physical and chemical parameters. Methods for reducing the ecological impact of harvesting, such as replanting pre-recruits on size-class plots and reducing repeated harvesting efforts, will also be investigated.

Aug. 2012 – May 2014

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Innovative Fisheries Products Inc.

project lead: Thomas Landry, Angeline Leblanc (DFO)

collaborators: Doug Bertram (Innovative Fisheries Products Inc.)


The influence of Manila Clam farming on biogeochemical fluxes

This research examines how farmed Manila Clams (Venerupis philippinarum), the nets placed on beaches to protect them from predators, and the fouling organisms growing on these nets modify nutrient fluxes and benthic respiration in coastal British Columbia. We did an extensive manipulative experiment to separate these effects in Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island. Naturally occurring Manila Clams were removed from sixty 2.25 m2 plots and the plots then manipulated to create 6 different treatments to evaluate the effect of 2 factors: Clams (two levels: with or without clams) and Nets (three levels: with cleaned nets, with fouled nets, and without nets). Plots were allowed to stabilize for one month before sampling was done. To evaluate biogeochemical fluxes, benthic respiration chambers were placed on the surface of each plot and water samples from within them taken over a period of a few hours at high tide. Water samples will be analyzed to evaluate nutrient [NH4, NO3, NO2, PO4, and Si(OH)4] and oxygen levels and how they change over time. After incubations to determine fluxes, samples were taken to evaluate organic matter, meio- and macrobenthic infaunal communities from each plot. It is anticipated that the presence of clams, nets, and fouling will all increase fluxes and respiration. Results from this study will provide managers and the industry a better understanding of the influence of clam aquaculture on benthic respiration and nutrient fluxes in coastal zones and the factors that account for them.

Sept. 2011 – Dec. 2013

Funded by: Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) co-funded by: RAQ; DFO

project lead: Philippe Archambault (UQAR)

project members: Marie-France Lavoie (ISMER); Christopher McKindsey, Christopher Pearce (DFO)

collaborators: Mac’s Oysters Ltd.


Fauna inhabiting beach plot beneath benthic respiration chamber used in the experiment

Optimization of hatchery-nursery practices for production of Sea Scallop spat in 10 m3 tanks in Newport

The project involves producing Sea Scallop spat using an innovative hatchery-nursery method in 10 m3 tanks. As this is the first Sea Scallop hatchery-nursery of this scale in Canada, the methods, procedures and farming systems used include several innovative elements (i.e., 10 m3 tanks and an intermediate culturing area for attachment) that have never been tested for larval production. These innovative processes will improve the company’s competitiveness, which is targeting an annual production of 25 million spat. By optimizing its practices in hatcheries and nurseries, the company will increase profitability by obtaining a better survival rate and an increase in high-quality larvae with a high concentration of lipids, thereby fostering optimal metamorphosis. Through the company’s vertical-integrated production system, the implementation of reliable and reproducible protocols for spat production will increase environmental performance, encouraging the sustainability of the aquaculture industry. The expertise it develops through its participation in this project will enable the company to achieve its economic development potential and become a world leader in the production of scallop spat.

Apr. 2011 – Mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: Ministère Revenu du Québec

project lead: Jean-Philippe Hébert (Fermes Marines du Québec Inc.)

project team: Caroline Durant, Antoine Dumais-Roy, Marie-Hélène Desroches (Fermes Marines du Québec Inc.)

collaborators: Réjean Tremblay (UQAR/ISMER)


10 cubic metre tanks

Revision of the code of practice for the shellfish industry based on an evaluation system for standard operating procedures

The project, sponsored by the New Brunswick Professional Shellfish Growers Association (NBPSGA), involves an update of the existing code of practice. This code currently exists in the form of Standard Operating Procedures and was recently produced for the eastern New Brunswick oyster industry. The new Best Practices in Oyster Farming Management tool will serve as reference for the mitigation measures that will serve to minimize or curb those risks as identified by shellfish growers during the assessment of the Standard Operating Procedures. The code will be a management tool to help all shellfish growers revise and adopt practices that will increase their competitiveness and environmental performance.

mar. 2012 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: Province of New Brunswick

project lead: Micheline Després (New Brunswick Professional Shellfish Growers Association (NBPSGA))

Project team: Micheline Després (New Brunswick Professional Shellfish Growers Association (NBPSGA))


Comparing culture gear and adapting off-shore giant scallop culture husbandry to Baie des Chaleur, NB

This study looks at the performance of Giant Scallops cultured in an exposed offshore environment using various husbandry approaches in order to minimize the negative impact of temperature fluctuations. Growth and reproductive condition of Giant Scallop cultured at an offshore site in Baie des Chaleurs: 1) in suspension using both lantern nets and in OysterGro cages; and 2) on the bottom using OysterGro cages, will be compared. The study will also assess fouling on the culture gear and monitor environmental parameters. An economic analysis of the feasibility of collecting Giant Scallop spat at the offshore site will be carried out.

may 2010 – mar. 2014

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)

project lead: Leslie-Ann Davidson

Project team: Leslie-Anne Davidson, Luc Comeau, Rémi Sonier, Monique Niles, Rachel Nowlan (DFO); Sylvio Doiron (NB DAA)

collaborators: Thomas Kenny (Kenny Aquaculture)


Cost reduction to produce American lobster stage IV postlarvae for wild release

In 2002, the Maritime Fishermen Union teamed up with the Coastal Zones Research Institute (CZRI) to develop a simple and efficient technique for mass production of American Lobster (Homarus americanus) postlarvae stage IV for re-stocking initiatives. In 10 years, the CZRI went from a modest 1,500 to over 425,000 postlarvae in 2012. The CZRI continues its research and development activities in collaboration with its industrial partner, Homarus Inc., to improve the production techniques and develop specialized equipment for intensive rearing of lobster postlarvae. The primarily goal is to reduce production cost to allow the deployment of commercial hatcheries. The CZRI is now working on several aspects to achieve this goal: 1) the design of new tanks to transport more postlarvae over longer distance (higher density); 2) testing of a new type of frozen food; and 3) development of an automatic system to count larvae.

Apr. 2002 – ongoing

Funded by: Homarus Inc.; Maritime Fishermen’s Union

project lead: Rémy Haché (CZRI)

Project team: Yves Hébert, Caroline Roussel, Marc-André Paulin (CZRI)

collaborators: Martin Mallet (Homarus Inc.)


An assessment of the genetic and health status of the native Basket Cockle in BC for aquaculture operation facilitation

There is significant commercial interest in BC culture of Basket Cockle, Clinocardium nuttallii, due to its fast growth rate, cosmopolitan substrate choice, cold water adaptation and importance to First Nations diet. We assessed the genetic and health status of cockle samples from 14 widespread locations in all five BC Shellfish Zones to inform development of a regulatory regime for aquaculture.

The genetic analysis, conducted with ten microsatellite loci developed in the study, indicated most cockle samples belonged to a widespread, genetically homogenous group extending from northern BC to Vancouver Island. Genetically distinct cockles on Haida Gwaii may reflect isolation-by-distance resulting from restricted gene flow across Hecate Strait. Distinctive cockles sampled from Prince Rupert and Georgia Strait locations shared unusual allele frequencies at some loci, indicative of differentiation due to natural selection.

Cockles examined for parasites and disease using histology and light microscopy possessed none of the following bivalve pathogens or diseases of concern: Marteiloides chungmuensis, Haplosporidium spp., Perkinsus spp., Marteilia spp., Bonamia spp., Mikrocytos mackini or Nocardiosis. Other parasites and symbionts were not associated with pathology. However, fungal infections detected up to 15% of specimens from six locations were associated with significant pathology and host response.

Oct. 2010 – Mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)

project lead: Helen Gurney-Smith (VIU); Ruth Withler (DFO)

Project team: Stewart Johnson, Cathryn Abbott, Janine Supernault, Chris Pearce (DFO)

collaborators: We Wai Kai Nation (Shawn O’Connor); Centre for Shellfish Research (VIU); Aboriginal Aquaculture Association (Odd Grydeland)


Basket Cockles

An innovative approach to nursery technology for the production of large Geoduck Clam seed: the missing link for Geoduck aquaculture in BC

The supply of Geoduck seed larger than the standard size of 8 – 10 mm shell length will significantly aid in the development of the Geoduck (Panopea abrupta) aquaculture industry in BC. Larger seed improves margins for tenure holders through higher survival of seed, improved seed performance, year round planting capabilities and up to a year reduction in required grow-out time.

To create this supply of seed, Nova Harvest Ltd. will apply innovative modifications to existing nursery technology for the efficient growth and overwintering of Geoduck Clam seed. On site, Nova Harvest will construct a land-based re-use nursery in parallel with outdoor algae culture tanks where local species of algae will be gown year round as feed. A second nursery to be tested is a floating ocean-based nursery fitted with hanging trays capable of holding substrate combined with a unique design that allows supplemental feeding of the entire floating nursery throughout the year using algae produced at the hatchery.

A successful nursery design will support the growth of the Geoduck aquaculture industry through increases seed supply, improved seed health and survival while lowering seed cost to the farmers. Farmers will be able to invest if greater numbers of seed with a higher survival rate improve the operational efficiency of the tenures.

Apr. 2012 – Mar. 2013

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

project lead: J.P. Hastey (Nova Harvest Ltd.)

Project team: Sean Williams (Nova Harvest Ltd.)

collaborators: Huu-ay-ahy First Nations


Evaluation of risk mitigation measures for the potential introduction of invasive alga to facilitate bivalve spat transfer requests

The mussel farming industry in eastern Canada is largely based on the collection of spat in areas suitable for the settlement of larvae and transfer to growing sites until the mussels attain a harvestable size. In eastern Quebec (Gaspé region), this was typically done on a small scale (a few kilometres). In recent years, however, there have been several failures in collecting spat in the Gaspé Peninsula, forcing a number of mussel farmers to apply for transfers from a site on the south shore or Chaleurs Bay, near Miscou, NB. However, this area is known to be infested by the invasive green alga Codium fragile ssp. fragile. As a result, spat transfers cannot be authorized by the Introductions and Transfer Committee because this invasive alga, which affects shellfish growers’ production, has not yet been observed in the Gaspé Peninsula. This potential loss of production is a major concern for the industry at this time. The project assesses the effectiveness of various treatments at different stages in the Codium life cycle likely to be associated with mussel spat with an emphasis on maximizing spat survival. The results would ensure that the risk of transferring Codium with spat is minimized. The study could also potentially result in new ways of treating other aquatic invasive species (AIS) while prioritizing treatments already known to be effective against other invaders in the Maritimes. The effectiveness of these procedures is also being evaluated on Sea Scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) and Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica), species also targeted by transfers between the Magdalen Islands and the Acadian Peninsula and the Gaspé Peninsula. Codium was recently found in the Havre-aux-Maisons Lagoon on the Magdalen Islands and this limits transfers from this area, as it does from the Acadian Peninsula.

Dec. 2010 – Dec. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Société de développement de l’industrie maricole (SODIM)

project lead: Chris McKindsey (DFO)

project team: Lysandre Landry, Nathalie Simard, Matthieu Huot (DFO)

collaborators: Léon Lantaigne (NB); Jason Simpson (PE)


Codium fragile ssp
Codium fragile ssp. fragile growing in an eelgrass meadow in îles de la Madeleine

The use of shells to increase recruitment and survival of Quahogs and Soft Shell Clams

Successful recruitment of juveniles is an essential part of a shellfish aquaculture operation. This study will help us understand the recruitment process for Quahogs and Soft Shell Clams and how to improve it. The project will experiment with adding shells to sediment to see if this will change chemical parameters of the sediment, thereby increasing the recruitment and survival of juvenile clams, and possibly the growth of older clams. A secondary objective is to look at recruitment and growth data in relation to the site’s physical attributes. Characteristics such as current velocity and erosion rates may explain a significant portion of the availability in recruitment of seed stock and growth. Identifying such explanatory factors would be helpful in the selection of aquaculture sites.

Aug. 2010 – Mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Innovative Fisheries Products Inc.

project lead: Angeline Leblanc (DFO)

collaborators: Doug Bertram (Innovative Fisheries Products Inc.)


Optimizing hatchery-based sea scallop settlement

During the life cycle of bivalves, the pelagic larval stages end with progression to benthic life via settlement and metamorphosis. Settlement is a significant limiting factor in the success of pectinid hatcheries. Although in some larval cultures, settlement success rates can reach up to 80% in good conditions, larval settlement and metamorphosis success rarely exceed 25 to 30%. Metamorphosis in bivalves is accompanied by the loss of their larval food collection system (velum) and the development of gills. This period is critical given larvae’s limited ability to feed while undergoing metamorphosis. For metamorphosis to be successful, this change must be completed rapidly. Competent larvae will settle and undergo metamorphosis under the influence of various chemical, physical and biological signals that are still unknown for Sea Scallops. A project funded by the Government of Norway was undertaken in 2007 to identify signals that help to increase settlement and metamorphosis success in Pecten maximus. The results show the differences in the length of the settlement process, which can vary from one to four weeks depending on the size of the competent larvae. Shorter settlement duration favours faster growth of juveniles and represents an economic benefit for commercial hatcheries. The primary objective of this project is to increase settlement/metamorphosis success while reducing the time required for completing it. The ultimate objective is to establish a settlement rate of over 60%. To meet these objectives, the following combinations will be tested: Effect of size before transfer in the settlement system, effect of velocity and hydrodynamic conditions in settlement units, and interaction between size and hydrodynamics.

June 2010 – Mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Aquaculture Gaspesie Inc.; SODIM

project lead: Jean-Marie Sévigny (DFO), Réjean Tremblay (UQAR)

project team: Nathalie LeFrançois, Pierre Blier, France Dufresne, Francis Dupuis (UQAR)

Collaborator: Thorolf Magnesen (U. Bergen)


Connectivity of Soft Shell Clam populations at various time and space scales

The Soft Shell Clam (Mya arenaria) is a benthic bivalve mollusc whose global natural distribution presents significant potential for aquaculture. In the laboratory, we developed a series of eight microsatellite markers. These were highly polymorphic and adapted to the species in order to study the genetic structure of the populations at the scale of their distribution. The results revealed the existence of six genetically distinct groups corresponding to: 1) the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence; 2) the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence; 3) the Magdalen Islands; 4) lower Atlantic Canada; 5) the U.S. coasts; and 6) Northern Europe. Genetic differentiation seems primarily due to isolation by distance at the southern range of the distribution. At the northern range, genetic differentiation seems largely due to isolation by distance, barriers to dispersal, and selection processes. The latitudinal gradient of genetic diversity is indicative of postglacial species expansion northward. We also used the microsatellite markers to check whether we could follow the larval cohorts during a complete spawning season, from birth to spatfall, in Bouctouche Bay, NB. The results showed the presence of closely related larval cohorts and larval retention. The results will allow for improved stocking program planning in the context of aquaculture activities by maintaining the genetic integrity of natural stocks.

Sept. 2008 – Apr. 2013

Funded by: NSERC co-funded by: RAQ

project lead: Philippe St-Onge (UQAR)

project team: Réjean Tremblay, Jean-Marie Sévigny (UQAR)

collaborators: André Martel (CMN); Carly Strasser, Éric Parent, Rachel Rioux-Paré (UQAR); Kouchibouguac National Park


Sampling of Soft Shell Clams at Port Mouton, NS

Adaptation of operations management software and “Le Mariculteur” mussel farming equipment

Quebec mussel farmers currently use software known as “Le Mariculteur,” property of SODIM, to manage their mariculture equipment and their on-site stocks. This software is a tool that enables easy management of production (by site and by line), infrastructure, and workforce (by activity). It also makes it possible to view a graphic representation of mussel farming sites, capture all the database information at once, and generate reports that facilitate management. The current project was implemented with the aim of adapting the software to the process and methods involved in scallop farming. Several aquaculture practices and equipment can be used for scallop production; therefore, these steps must be standardized as part of the software’s programming. The software’s integrated features will simplify scallop farmers’ management tasks. It should be noted that this tool is user-friendly — it is suitable for use by operators who are not computer-savvy and will work on personal computers running Windows or Macintosh operating systems.

Apr. 2011 – dec. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: Société de développement de l’industrie maricole (SODIM)

project lead: Sylvain Lafrance (Société de développement de l’industrie maricole (SODIM))

project team: Nathalie Méthot, Jonathan Ranger (Gascode Inc.); Mélanie Bourgeois (Culti-mer Inc.); Stéphane Morissette (GRT Aquatechnologie Ltée.)

collaborators: Joanne Miller (Pec-Nord Inc.)


Effect of adaptation to temperature on the behaviour of stage IV larvae of the American Lobster

It is now well known that water temperature strongly influences the behaviour of the American Lobster (Homarus americanus). Moreover, there seems to be a correlation between acclimation to a given temperature, the stock of origin, and the behavioural responses of the species. Although several studies exist, few have looked into the behavioural responses of stage IV larvae with regard to thermal gradients based on the incubation temperature and the originating stock.

To characterize these behavioural responses, an experiment will be conducted in the summer of 2013. Several berried females from two different stocks will be captured in the southern and northern parts of the Gulf. For each of these two source stocks, two sets of larvae will be incubated at temperatures of 12 °C and 20°C for the duration of the larval development. At stage IV, the larvae will be exposed to a homogeneous water column (i.e., 20 °C and 12 °C) or a stratified water column (i.e., 20 °C at the surface and 12 °C at the bottom). These experiments will also take into account the type of sediment in the selected substrate.

July 2012 – July 2014

Funded by: NSERC Canadian Capture Fisheries Research Network (CCFRN); NSERC

project lead: Leo Barret (UQAR)

project team: Gilles Miron (U. Moncton), Réjean Tremblay (UQAR / ISMER); Patrick Ouellet, Bernard Sainte-Marie (DFO)


Optimization of scallop hatcheries by controlling the conditions of continuous stream production

For several years now, flow-through bivalve production techniques have been in development, notably in France for the oyster Crassostrea gigas, and more recently, the Ostrea edulis species. This new approach has clearly demonstrated that it is now possible to achieve substantial savings in terms of labour and make it easier to ensure the microbiological stability of aquaculture water, thereby limiting the development of opportunistic pathogens. Furthermore, this technique allows for the optimal and continuous inflow of microalgae, which would make it possible to set up very high-density hatcheries. This is the context in which the flow-through system was adapted to Pectinidae species. The larvae of this Pectinidae are known to be sensitive to bacteria in their rearing environment. Such bacteria are mostly to blame for the massive mortality rates observed both in flow-through systems and stagnant water systems. The objectives of this study are to: 1) limit the bacterial load of larvae in the early stages and select the most effective prophylactic measure to counter it; and 2) understand how the parameters of the culture chambers influence the physiology of larvae, in order to optimize larval yield.

Jan. 2010 – Jan. 2014

Funded by: Ministère du Développement économique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation (MDEIE); Programme de soutien à des initiatives internationales de recherche et d’innovation (PSIIRI); Programme Européen Reproseed; RAQ

project lead: Marine Holbacg (ISMER – IFREMER)

project team: Réjean Tremblay (ISMER / UQAR); René Robert, Pierre Boudry (IFREMER)


Experimental flow-through system used at IFREMER

Use of diets enriched with stable isotopes (13C) to optimize nutrition in the hatchery culture of bivalves

The composition of bivalve larvae nutrition is based on empirical data that vary greatly from one hatchery to another in terms of microalgae species and quantity of feed. In this project, a microalgae-based diet enriched with 13C is used to accurately monitor the levels of ingestion, absorption and incorporation of amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates throughout the larval development of various bivalve species (Placopecten megallanicus, Mytilus edulis, and Crassostrea virginica). This study is based on several microalgae species with different biochemical profiles, which will accurately establish larvae amino acid, fatty acid, and carbohydrate requirements during their development. This information will be used to establish an optimal diet that will meet the nutritional needs of larvae, while preventing the rejection of organic matter inherent to overfeeding or improper ingestion or assimilation of food in rearing tanks. The project will therefore provide hatcheries with specific information for optimizing their production of microalgae for feeding larvae, while preventing the accumulation of organic matter, thereby reducing the risk of bacterial growth in tanks.

May 2012 – Apr. 2014

Funded by: NSERC; Fonds de développement académique du réseau des Universités du Québec (FODAR) co-funded by: RAQ

project leads: Bertrand Genard, Marine Holbach, Réjean Tremblay (UQAR)

project team: Nathalie LeFrançois, Pierre Blier, France Dufresne, Francis Dupuis (UQAR)


Juvenile post-larval Sea Scallop, Placopecten magellanicus
Date modified: