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Science Response 2011/015

Habitat Utilization in the Vicinity of Three Proposed Finfish Aquaculture Sites in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia


On May 31, 2011, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Habitat Management Division, Maritimes Region, requested that DFO Science, Maritimes Region, provide advice regarding the utilization of habitat in the vicinity of three proposed finfish aquaculture sites in Shelburne Harbour and Jordan Bay, Nova Scotia (referred to as the Jordon Bay, Blue Island and Middle Head sites). The request for advice is in support of Habitat Management’s review of an environmental assessment (EA) of a proposed aquaculture development project pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Specifically, Habitat Management asked:

Based on the type of habitat (as shown in the benthic video taken on June 6, 2011) and the site depths and locations (Figure 1, depths of 10-20 m) what are the potential uses of that habitat by lobster, groundfish, clams, scallops and quahogs?

DFO’s Science Special Response Process was used to respond to this request due to the short deadline for advice of August 31, 2011. This Science Response report was developed and reviewed through email correspondence.  No review meeting was held.  This Science Response report is based on existing data sources from Shelburne and surrounding harbours, which are limited in number and of lower resolution and scale relative to the location and size of the three proposed aquaculture sites.

In summary: 1) lobster landings are relatively high in Shelburne Harbour and Jordan Bay; 2) planktonic lobster larvae have not been studied in Shelburne Harbour and Jordan Bay, although they are likely found throughout much of the area; 3) settlement by young-of-year lobsters within the Blue Island and Jordan Bay sites is possible, but it is expected to be low compared to settlement on the cobble bottoms at the Middle Head site; 4)  adolescent and adult lobsters are likely present within the proposed aquaculture sites at various times of the year; 5) the presence of ocean quahog and numerous groundfish species has been noted within the area of the proposed aquaculture sites; and 6) sea scallop are likely within the proposed area; however, distribution data or density estimates do not currently exist. Additional research would be required to more fully address some of the points discussed in this response.

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