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Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2013


An innovative approach for seed sorting in small farm operations

This project has developed a novel mobile floating seed sorter and handling system for oysters. It involved the purchase, assembly, and testing of seed handling equipment comprised of a seed screening machine, a specialized working raft, a system housing, solar power generation equipment, and other component equipment. Testing of this unique system resulted in a benchmarking study of productivity gains measured against past production costs and values.

The innovative system delivered a much greater increase to farm productivity than anticipated. A production increase of 75% was forecast; however, actual output increased by more than 300%.

This system is specifically designed to meet the needs of small farm operations. Mechanization of the seed grading stage clearly delivers a higher production rate with the same amount of labour. This enables farmers to invest more time into other production stages and to reduce overall costs per unit.

Little Wing Oysters Ltd. recommend other small firms consider similar investments. Growers across Canada can access the plans and final prototype system evaluation by contacting the project lead.

Apr. 2011 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: French’s Clams; NRC; VIU CSR

project lead: Yves Perreault (Little Wing Oysters Ltd.)

Project team: Edward Bereziak, Bob Paquin (Little Wing Oysters Ltd.)

collaborators: Patrice Mulot (S.A.S Mulot); Paul Steffens (PSA Engineering); Helen Gurney-Smith (VIU CSR); Mark Long (Solar power consultant)


Mobile floating seed sorter and handling system

Oyster production in hanging structures suspended from mussel long lines in Magdalen Islands

The main objective of this project was to evaluate the bio-technico-economic potential of oyster production using hanging structures. Three rearing structures were compared: 1) Japanese lanterns; 2) oysters grown on vertical rope (glued); and 3) oysters grown on horizontal rope (rack). These structures were set on long lines at two mussel culture sites; House Harbour lagoon and Plaisance Bay offshore site. Oyster growth was greater for oysters cultured on vertical ropes in the lagoon. Oysters grew to about double their original size (from 30 to 67 mm in average) in one and half years. However, high percentages of mortality and oyster loss were noticed for this type of structure. These oyster mortalities/losses seem to be related with epibiont fouling on the oyster shell. A two-year project, which began in September 2011, will examine oyster structure cleaning techniques in an effort to solve the fouling problem.

Apr. 2010 – Dec. 2013

Funded by: Innovamer (MAPAQ); Canada Economic Development Agency (CED)

project lead: Lisandre G. Solomon (Merinov)

Project team: Lisandre G. Solomon, Carole Cyr (Merinov); Jean-François Laplante (UQAR/MAPAQ); Moules de culture des Iles; Moules du Large


Innovations to produce single oyster seed in Pendrell Sound

Aphrodite’s Garden Oyster Co. will utilize unique methodologies for producing single oyster seed, in commercial quantities, locally, from the wild oyster spatfall in Pendrell Sound, offering lower costs to local growers, through innovation in the spat collector medium, initial nursery rearing stage, and sorting/processing in preparation for market. These innovations greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the unique seed production process by eliminating reliance on energy intensive hatchery operations. The work plan includes the use of re-manufactured materials and the natural spawning cycle of the oyster. Once set, most seed will normally mature in clumps of two or three oysters. Aphrodite’s Garden Oyster Co. intervenes at this stage to produce single seed, which has a much higher value to growers.

The projects outcomes will be: 1) increasing productivity of area farms; 2) creating employment; and 3) protecting and enhancing a valuable asset on the BC Coast. These outcomes will comprise: 1) innovation in the seed collector substrate; 2) subsequent development of new equipment to deploy and retrieve these collectors; 3) design and construction of a
seed stripper to remove the seed; and
4) development of a process to sort the single seed from clustered product.

This project will secure excellent value in an economical, natural product: viable, mature oyster seed for local growers, to re-access markets held by Pendrell seed prior to 1986. This is expedited while increasing environmental performance, using Pendrell’s natural productivity to provide a sustainable alternative to non-local energy-intensive hatchery seed.

Apr. 2012 – mar. 2013

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

project lead: Ed Bereziak (Aphrodite’s Garden Oyster Co.)

Project team: Lynn Paris, Bernard Hodges, John Svoboda; Dave Hameline (Aphrodite’s Garden Oyster Co.); Yves Perrault (Little Wing Farms); Doug Bruce (Brock U.); Karen Burke Da Silva (Flinders U.)


Introduction of commercial shell crushing technology to the BC oyster aquaculture industry

The purpose of this industry led benchmarking study was to locate a suitable technology to reduce oyster shell volume for the purpose of lowering material handling costs, and to enable value-added post processing opportunities in secondary markets. Two examples of secondary markets are animal feed supplements and water filtration.

Three different technologies were tested — a dual rotor shredder, a hammer mill, and a cage mill. Each machine had Pacific Oyster shell run through them under three different conditions — dry seasoned, wet seasoned, and green. Both the dual rotor shredder and the hammer mill performed very well, while the cage mill is not a viable option due to material feed issues. All of the machines produced much finer particle sizes than expected.

The introduction of a shell crushing technology to support British Columbia’s shellfish sector is an opportunity to improve environmental performance and meet the needs of secondary markets. We believe that this technology will benefit the entire shellfish industry and Fanny Bay is in an excellent position to help introduce this solution and lead the way to more sustainable production.

Apr. 2011 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) co-funded by: Fanny Bay Oysters

project lead: Brian Yip (Taylor Shellfish Canada ULC)

Project team: Chris Barker (Taylor Shellfish); Alex Munro, Mandy Prowse (Fanny Bay Oysters)


A new method of growing bivalves in suspended culture

Bivalve aquaculture currently utilizes two main farming practices: intertidal (bottom or beach) and deep-water (off-bottom, or suspended) culture. Suspended culture offers a number of advantages, but is often hindered by two issues: biofouling and shell deformities. The goal of our project is to assess the efficacy of expanded clay aggregate and lava rock as novel growth media for bivalves in suspended culture. Both media are lightweight, natural, pH neutral, chemically inert, affordable, and reusable. We anticipate these media to brush off biofouling, provide structural support, and act as a tumbling agent to prevent clumping and shell deformities. We focus on the two primary cultured bivalve species in British Columbia — Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and Manila Clam (Venerupis philippinarum) — during nursery and grow-out. Our method has the potential to improve the efficiency of grow-out systems for these and other bivalve species.

jan. 2011 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Mac’s Oysters Ltd.

project lead: Anya Dunham (DFO)

Project team: Rob Marshall (Mac’s Oysters Ltd.)

collaborators: Mac’s Oysters Ltd.


Optimization of the quality assurance process for the marketing of NB oysters

La Maison Beausoleil (2010) Inc. of Neguac, NB, is supplied with oysters by over forty producers and can receive product from many different suppliers at the same time. This is the main reason why the company wants to develop an oyster processing line to automate receiving, washing and oyster storage in holding tanks. This automation will need to be integrated into the process of product traceability to reduce production costs, increase productivity, and maintain its position relative to standards and international competition. The project involves the mechanization and automation of the steps associated with oyster washing at receiving and loading of the product to storage holding tanks. Many of the components of automated production line need to be developed while others need to be adapted to enable component integration. A production line including a destacker and conveyor for full containers, empty container return, an inverter for full holding tanks, a washer, a unit charger, and a unit elevator will be developed and installed in the receiving area of the factory.

mar. 2011 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP); IRAP; Province of New Brunswick

project lead: Amédée Savoie (La Maison Beausoleil Inc.)

Project team: Annie Thibodeau, Martial LeClerc (La Maison Beausoleil Inc.); Cube Automation; Vendée Concept

Contact: amédé

Development of a modified assay for use in temperate waters and its application through an assessment of stress tolerances among oyster stocks with varying levels of heterozygosity

There are many factors contributing to oyster losses, but for the most part, all these factors are related to stress. Stress can be caused by sub-optimal husbandry practices, environmental conditions, or the presence of pathogens. Rapid initial assessments of bivalve immune status can be measured using cellular biomarkers, in lieu of the more traditional long term indicators such as growth rates, mortality and condition index. The present investigation will verify the potential for error when using a cellular biomarker (neutral red retention assay) in oysters exposed to low water temperatures and attempt to improve this method in a controlled setting, so that it can be applied with confidence in the field. Fitness of oyster stock sources will be assessed by measuring level of genetic variation in a population (heterozygosity). Once levels have been measured, stock sources with the highest and lowest levels of heterozygosity will be assessed for their tolerance to stressful conditions.

may 2011 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Elsipogtog Fisheries

project lead: Carla Hicks (DFO)

Project team: Denise Méthé, Luc Comeau (DFO);
Réjean Tremblay (UQAR)

collaborators: Blayne Peters (Elsipogtog Fisheries)


Baseline testing of tray rack inserts for a floating upweller nursery system

Mac’s Oysters Ltd. will complete early commercialization and baseline testing of a new rack and tray insert system for the bins (silos) of a floating upweller nursery (FLUPSY). The system will be comprised of aluminum racks that hold seed trays and are suspended within the FLUPSY bins. These trays increase the culture surface area, allowing for a greater volume of seed than previously possible. This system reduces crowding and has tremendous potential to improve production through increased survival and potentially higher stocking densities.

Demand for the product continues to increase, yet the production from our FLUPSY is at a steady-state. Mortality rates are the major factor limiting overall production and are associated with periods of rapid growth which increase the volume of seed beyond the carrying capacity of the system. Increasing culture surface area through the implementation of the rack and tray system should reduce these rates significantly, and increase overall productivity. There are two systems that we will implement and test, a fully upwelling rack where the water is forced up through the bottom of all trays, and an upwelling/stacked raceway system where water is forced up through the bottom of the bin and then flows across the top of each tray.

The preliminary trials have shown favourable results with respect to growth and survival. For this reason Mac’s Oysters believe that they are ready to move this system to commercial scale.

Apr. 2012 – mar. 2013

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

project lead: Rob Marshall (Mac’s Oysters Ltd.)

Project team: Ron Willis, John Foster, Tom Haas,
Janet Clark (Mac’s Oysters Ltd.)


BC shellfish farm

Development of an Oyster Grader targeting size (length) and unit specific to growers’ operations

The project involves the development, adaptation and demonstration of a mechanized technology that will encourage site expansion, increase production of oysters, and allow for reduction in production costs thereby increasing profit margins for the growers. This project will take place in Bouctouche, NB, and involves a technology to grade and count oysters, the plant design layout preparations for the new and innovative technology, the acquisition, commissioning, and validation of the equipment, the development of an oyster washer, a profitability study, and a final report and communications.

mar. 2012 – 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: Donald Jaillet (Jaillet Aquaculture Inc.)

Project team: Mike McKenna (Atlantic System Manufacturing); Carl Brothers (Frontier Power Systems Inc.)


Development of tools to evaluate American Oyster shelf life

Oysters continue to be popular seafood enjoyed by many. Because raw oysters in the shell are living organisms, they need to be stored under optimal conditions to avoid rapid loss of quality. Growers in Atlantic Canada have indicated that there are seasonal variations in oyster shelf life. Previous studies have mostly focused on traditional winter markets without considering how harvesting time and other husbandry practices associated with aquaculture may affect the oyster shelf life. This research will focus on the development of tools or techniques to: 1) determine shelf life of C. virginica; and 2) predict oyster shelf life prior to storage.

sept. 2011 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: La Maison BeauSoleil Inc.

project lead: Daniel Bourque (DFO)

Project team: Luc Comeau (DFO)

collaborators: Amédée Savoie (La Maison BeauSoleil Inc.)


Comparison of an offshore and inshore site for oyster aquaculture

Comparison of an offshore and inshore site for oyster aquaculture using the French string technique in the Baie des Chaleurs, New Brunswick. The primary objective of this study is to assess the performance of oysters suspended on French strings in an exposed offshore environment compared to a sheltered inshore environment with respect to their ability to rapidly attain market size.

We will test whether oyster shell growth rates and reproductive rates are similar between offshore and inshore sites. Specific objectives of this research are: 1) to transfer the Mediterranean oyster culture technique (oysters on stings) to an offshore New Brunswick site; 2) to compare the growth, reproductive condition, survival, and market quality of oysters between an offshore and inshore site; 3) to compare fouling at an offshore and inshore site; and 4) to monitor the environmental parameters at an offshore site and an inshore site.

july 2009 – mar. 2011

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Kenny Aquaculture

project lead: Monique Niles (DFO)

Project team: Luc Comeau, Leslie-Anne Davidson (DFO); Sylvio Doiron, (NBDAA)

collaborators:Thomas Kenny (Kenny Aquaculture); Marcel Poirier (MP Aquaculture Inc.)


Modified Mediterranean French string technique — 100 string unit developed by MP Aquaculture Inc

Turning of OysterGro cages

Our project aims to develop a reliable approach to cage flipping (i.e., turning cages over) in order to control biofouling of the cages and the oysters they contain, with a view to improving net productivity and the economic viability of the oyster breeding industry.

The first objective is to determine the optimal frequency for flipping cages, the one which will eliminate the largest possible quantity of biofouling while reducing economic losses due to raising the cages out of the water and to breaking of the frill. This will be useful to the entire oyster industry in southeastern New Brunswick.

The second objective is to determine the shortest out-of-water time that will achieve a high degree of elimination of fouling organisms. The longer the period during which the oysters are out of the water, the greater their mortality. To reduce mortality as well as the growth loss that results from being out of the water, the optimal out-of-water time for eliminating biofouling needs to be determined, based on the size of the oysters.

sept. 2009 – mar. 2012

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: Aquaculture Acadienne Ltée; King Aquaculture; Donald Jaillet

project lead: Angeline Leblanc

Project team: Marc Ouellette (DFO); Marie-Josée Maillet, Marcel Léger (NB Ministry of Agriculture and Aquaculture); Florent Garnerot, Chantal Gionet (CZRI); Erick Battaler (U. Moncton)

collaborators: Maurice Daigle (Aquaculture Acadienne Ltée); Armand King (King Aquaculture); Donald Jaillet


Influence of Eastern Oyster aquaculture on eelgrass populations and their recovery

The aim of this project is to determine the extent and rate of recovery of eelgrass affected by two types of oyster culture methods (suspended bag and bottom table oyster culture) in order to develop best management practices for minimizing impacts on benthic habitat. The first objective is to monitor fine spatial and temporal scale recovery of eelgrass exposed to varying levels of benthic shading and organic enrichment from suspended bag culture structures with various oyster stocking densities. The second objective is to provide regional information on the influence of off bottom (table) culture of Eastern Oysters on eelgrass while determining the extent of recovery during fallowing periods for this culture method. There is a lack of reliable information about how to best place oyster tables in successive years in order to minimize cumulative impacts to benthic habitat (eelgrass). While data on the impacts to sea grass related to this culture method are available, very little research exists on the subsequent recovery of sea grass from such impacts. Furthermore, no known published results exist on impacts to and recovery of eelgrass loss and its subsequent performance during various recovery scenarios. This project will allow industry to develop best management practices to minimize initial impacts to benthic habitat as well as promote recovery in instances where impacts do occur.

may 2010 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) co-funded by: L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée

project lead: Marie-Hélène Thériault (DFO)

Project team: Simon Courtenay, Marc Skinner (DFO)

collaborators: André Mallet, Claire Carver (L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée)



Investigation into the decline of oyster production in the Hillsborough Bay area of PEI

The overall goal of this project is to investigate the decline in oyster production in natural and enhanced populations in the East, West, and North rivers of the Hillsborough Bay area.

The specific objectives of the project are to: 1) establish whether the oyster production problem involves recruitment, growth and mortality; 2) establish the spatial extent of the oyster production problem; 3) identify environmental and human activities that could cause a decline in production by degrading habitat given: human or animal disturbance to the beds, predation, sediment, water quality, and food availability; 4) produce a document that describes the extent of the oyster production issues in the Hillsborough Bay estuaries and the most likely cause(s) for the production problems based data analysis and biological plausibility; and 5) develop potential mitigation measures to improve the oyster fishery in these rivers (i.e., identifying areas for productive enhancement and fishing of wild oysters).

may 2012 – july 2013

Funded by: PEI Aquaculture and Fisheries Research Initiative; PEI Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development co-funded by: PEI Shellfish Association (PEI SA)

project lead: Sophie St-Hilaire (UPEI)

Project team: Jeff Davidson, Pedro Quijon, Erin Rees, Jonathan Hill (UPEI); Frank Hansen (PEI SA); Aaron Ramsay (PEI DFARD)

collaborators: PEI Shellfish Association; Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Rural Development (DFARD)


High density larval tanks for the American Oyster breeding program in New Brunswick

The Coastal Zones Research Institute (CZRI) acquired recently the Cawthron ultra density larval system from New Zealand to scale up its oyster breeding program. The system consists of 60 2.6-liter tanks. They will serve to increase significantly the number of families and larvae being produced every year, and foster the production of high performing spat. This acquisition enhances the selection breeding program to improve performance of the American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and initiated in 2005 by CZRI, thanks to the funding from Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries. Two cohorts of first generation (F1) were produced in 2005 and 2007 with promising results (10 to 21% faster growth in some families). In 2012 – 2013, the breeding program will move to the production of the second generation cohort (F2) and enter a new era for the benefit of oyster hatcheries and growers of New Brunswick.

mar. 2012 – mar. 2013

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP); New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; New Brunswick Professional Shellfish Growers Association

project lead: Chantal Gionet (CZRI)

Project team: André Dumas, Steven Mallet, Mélanie DeGrace, Josée Duguay, Rémy Haché, Yves Hébert, Isabelle Thériault, Marc-André Paulin (CZRI)


High density larval rearing tanks

Assessing seasonal variations in the physiological health of the Eastern Oyster

Cumulative mortality is a major issue within oyster culture. Under optimal conditions, a mortality of 5% per year is often observed, however, these numbers can vary considerably between lease sites. Producers compensate for these losses by increasing the number of oysters cultivated on their leases. However, increasing the number of oysters on each lease can greatly impact the environmental footprint of the site. Valuable resources within the ecosystem are lost (e.g., phytoplankton, nutrients, etc.) and on-site biodeposition is increased, without any return to the industry or consumers in terms of more oysters. This environmental impact becomes even greater in areas of reduced water exchange and areas of maximised carrying capacity. In New Brunswick, oyster mortalities appear to be closely related to environmental factors (e.g., temperature, salinity, etc.) and husbandry or rearing practices. The physiological health of the animal can determine how well it adapts and recovers from exposure to potential stressors. This study will assess variations in the health and condition of oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in New Brunswick in response to environmental changes to identify critical periods of physiological stress. This information will allow the development of management plans and best practices to help oyster producers avoid supplementary stressors, thus reducing mortalities and optimizing resource utilization. This could lead to more environmentally responsible operating practices for the oyster culture industry.

Apr. 2012 – Mar. 2015

Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP); La Maison BeauSoleil Inc.

project lead: Daniel Bourque (DFO)

Project team: Denise Méthé (DFO)


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