Science Response 2014/005
Interim Advice for the Development of Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) Aquaculture in British Columbia
There is increasing interest in culturing native California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) in British Columbia (BC). Sea Cucumber aquaculture in BC is in the early stages of developing hatchery stock production and grow-out techniques. A range of potential aquaculture activities are being proposed by various proponents, including suspended and benthic containment, as well as uncontained Sea Cucumber ranching on the seafloor. Science advice was requested by the Aquaculture Management Division in November 2011, for the provision of advice by the fall of 2012, in the form of a review of current knowledge that would provide guidance and advice around the development of Sea Cucumber aquaculture activities in BC. Specifically, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science was asked:
- how the various Sea Cucumber aquaculture activities would interact with different life stages of wild Sea Cucumber stocks;
- what is the scale and direction of any interaction on the status and conservation objectives of wild Sea Cucumber stocks; and
- what are the consequences of such culture activities on fish habitat and ecosystem function.
There is currently little to no science information available to address these questions. A review of the science request resulted in a response that fulsome advice could not be provided on these issues in the timeframe requested. A two-year research project, ‘Ecological interactions between benthic-ranched and wild California Sea Cucumbers,’ was initiated in May 2012 with funding from the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP). Provision of advice, in the form of a comprehensive Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Research Document, was deferred pending the completion of the research project expected in May 2014, with a CSAS regional peer review potentially achievable in the fall of 2014.
Considering the urgency of the request for advice, a Science Special Response Process (SSRP) was initiated based on the current existing knowledge of Sea Cucumber biology, ecology and behaviour to address the following points:
- identify potential risks to wild Sea Cucumber stocks from various scenarios of Sea Cucumber aquaculture;
- provide advice and recommendations, based on existing knowledge of Sea Cucumber biology and behaviour, for the development of Sea Cucumber aquaculture; and
- Identify research priorities.
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