In March 2011 Shellfish Hatchery Systems Ltd. installed its first Aquahive across the Atlantic in Quebec, Canada. The lobster hatchery is situated in the fishing port of Chandler.
The first Aquahive installed in the lobster hatchery at Chandler was not only the first in Canada, but the first to incorporate our new bio-filtration system. It also had to incorporate 110-volt pumps and UV system, unlike the standard systems in Europe and Scandinavia, which run on 240-volt.
The lobster hatchery’s principal aim is that of re-stocking and stock enhancement. The lobster species in this hatchery is Homarus americanus or American lobster – a distant relative of the European lobster, Homarus gammarus.
The Canadian system for raising H. americanus differs slightly from the European lobster. The larvae from hatching are kept in conicals with live algal cells and artemia, replenished through their development. Traditionally many of the Canadian hatcheries release larvae at stage 4, although survival is higher at later stages. It has also been problematic to on-grow from stage 4 in the system currently being used in the hatchery. The Aquahive has been installed to allow larvae to be transferred at an earlier stage to the Aquahive trays, greatly increasing the survival rate. The juveniles are then grown on within the Aquahive with increased survival and faster development
Global warming is having an accelerated effect at more northern latitudes. Historically, the coastline around the Gaspésie peninsular has been protected over the period of winter gales by sea-ice, but over the previous and current winters the sea-ice has failed to form, leading to storm damage along the coastline and reports of many lobsters and other sea-life being washed up along the coast. A joint project is now underway between the Ministry of Transport and the Department of Fisheries to engineer a series of artificial reefs which will give the dual benefit of protecting the coastline from erosion and supporting the fishing industry. Considerable work has been carried out in this fishery to evaluate release techniques for juvenile lobsters. Deployment by a boat using a weighted hose to the sea bed is no longer used, because of research showing that as many as 75% of the juveniles can be lost through predation within a few hours of release. The Aquahive tray system is now being used in Canadian waters for the deployment of juvenile lobsters.
While installing the Aquahives in the existing lobster hatchery I had the opportunity to see some of the other innovations being made on site: as well as lobsters, the facility is producing Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), and northern wolffish (Anarhichas denticulatus). The breeding fish held at the hatchery can reach 30 kilos, and raise their heads out of the water in readiness to be fed.
I would like to thank Jean Côté, the project director, and all the staff at the hatchery for their warmth and hospitality. My case on the return journey was much heavier from the gift of the organic maple syrup!