Aquaculture Research: Deep water mussel farming in Newfoundland and Labrador


My name is Dr. Harry Murray. I’m a DFO scientist at Northwest
Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St.
John’s. We’re working on a project to
compare the condition and health
of mussels grown in shallow water versus
grown in deep-water sites. ACRDP – Aquaculture
Collaborative Research
and Development program. That’s a funding program
administered directly by the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and it provides funding money
for DFO researchers to work
directly with industry. The grower, Norlantic
Processors, whose president is
Mr. Terry Mills. Terry came to me with a question
about whether or not we could we could start looking
at the idea of growing mussels
in the offshore. He’s been playing around with
the idea for quite a number of
years. My name is Terry Mills. I’m with
Norlantic Processors Ltd. I’m the plant manager, farm
supervisor and I’m also part
owner. We started about 7 years ago in
this part of the bay and we needed extra grow out
sites and the only place left on the Northeast coast was out
in the deeper, say the main
ocean. We started to do some research
on our own, some, just a commercial trials
and the results were
encouraging. We were growing mussels out in
fairly deep water so we did it a
few years, we looked at the results and
then we, obviously we were
certainly out of our league when it comes to, we had to get
some applied science to confirm to confirm what we were
analyzing and so we met with
some DFO people and we met with Harry and we got
a project put together and we
submitted it and off to the races! We’re out here in Notre Dame Bay
in an area called Pleasantview where we’re looking at working
on our ACRDP project to study
the growth of and the health of mussels in
deep water versus mussels
grown in shallow water, which is more typical. Deep water culture is not a new
thing, it’s actually happening
in a number of areas around the world. But it is quite new here in
Newfoundland. And the idea of
going offshore is to increase the overall
sustainability of the industry. As part of this project we have
been also collecting
environmental data. Environmental data is important
because the animals grow in the
water environment, obviously, and anything that
happens in the water
environment is going to affect mussels directly. This instrument here is called
an echosonde and it’s an
oceanographic instrument that allows us to measure
various environmental parameters
like oxygen, temperature, salinity and
chlorophyll. We are going to be
using it today to do an environmental or oceanographic
profile of the water column. There is some thought that there
are areas in deep water
that are basically concentrated food for the mussels. If you can find the zone in the
deep water and put your
mussels there, than the mussels should do very very well. If you can find that zone than
the mussels will be in the
optimal position for growth and for health and very low stress. The other thought is that in
deep water the environment is a
lot more stable. So the animals like a more
stable environment. The more
stable the environment is the better they”ll be as well. We’re learning a tremendous
amount and over this period of
time we were able also to bring in a really fantastic graduate
student over there, Daria
Gallardi. She’s a PhD student working on
the project and she’s introduced
a lot of really new and really innovative ideas
to the whole project. What we are looking into is the
physiological stress response of
the mussels. So we are looking in to some
genes of interest that are
related to particular to environmental characteristics
like temperature or salinity,
for example. This is the part of the work
where we look at the changes of
certain types of enzymes related to the environmental
response of the mussels. We know from previous work that
has been done that there are
certain proteins and their associated genes that can
respond to stress factors,
changes in salinity, to temperature and such. So we are looking at a group of
specific genes related to this
type of system. So what we need to do is, we
need to sample from the gill
tissue. We are going to freeze this and
bring it back to the laboratory
where we can run specific molecular biology tests
on this type of tissue to
let us know how these genes are responding over time. The results have indicated that
mussels grown in deep water
sites do a little better than those grown in shallow water. The project was certainly
worthwhile from a science point
of view and also from a commercial
application to mussel farming in
deep water. This work is very important to
the industry itself as the
mussel culture industry is expanding the numbers of
these shallow water sites are
decreasing and which becomes a big problem
as the industry expands. So it’s a good idea to start
exploring moving offshore in to more deeper areas so that
we can maintain or improve on
the sustainability of the industry over time. There are still many questions
to be answered. We got a lot of
questions answered and I think that this process
and this project will certainly be advanced to
other parts and other regions of
Canada and probably anywhere in the world. This is a mussel sock taken from
our south arm deep site. So
mussels were hanging from 15 meters below the surface for 12 months and
this is what you get: fantastic
mussels.

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