Research Projects
NSERC Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network

Research Projects

Project Title:
Can filter-feeding bivalves ingest planktonic sea lice, leading to reduced lice numbers
on cultivated salmon? (D1P6)

Project Description:
A possible benefit of adding filter-feeding shellfish to the typical monoculture model of salmon farming is the potential for reducing viral, bacterial, and/or parasitic diseases in the cultured fish as a result of the filtering of planktonic dispersal particles (e.g. bacteria, viruses, larvae, nauplii) by the shellfish. This project is examining a number of filter-feeding shellfish species for their ability to ingest planktonic nauplii/copepodids of sea lice under laboratory conditions and assessing the affects of commercial-scale quantities of shellfish on lice levels at a commercial salmon farm site. The laboratory phase of the project, currently underway, is designed to determine which of four species of suspension-feeding bivalves(i.e. bluemussel, Pacific oyster, basket cockle, Japanese scallop) consume lice larvae and their ingestion rates at various temperatures (5, 10, 15ºC). If potential species are identified that can consume nauplii/copepodids, then a field experiment will be established to compare lice levels on cultured fish in: (1) experimental cages surrounded by commercial-scale densities of cultured shellfish and (2) control cages and control sites without shellfish. If successful, bivalves grown by salmon farms could potentially reduce the abundance of sea lice on caged salmon using a biological control approach, possibly reducing the need for costly chemo-therapeutants.
(Gravid sea louse and adult basket cockle. -
Credits: Janis Webb)

Project Leader Name:
Chris Pearce, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station (PBS)

Project Leader e-mail Contact:

Team Members’ Names and Affiliations (researchers and students):
Stephen Cross (UVic)
Simon Jones (DFO-PBS)
Shawn Robinson (DFO-SABS)
Janis Webb (UVic graduate student)

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