Success Stories

RPPSG Profile And Comments About The Aquahive

3rd August 2018

The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie, or RPPSG, is a nonprofit association representing 160 professional fishermen in southern Gaspé. RPPSG's goal is to ensure the sustainability of its member's main activity, lobster fishing. Many conservation measures have been adopted over years, but fishermen believed they had to do more to reduce their impact on the resource. One solution was to release lobsters produced in hatchery. The purpose of the hatchery project was thus to raise Stage IV lobster postlarvae, Homarus Americanus, in numbers high enough to compensate 3 to 5 % of their catch. These would be provided to RPPSG's members to release on their fishing grounds in an effort to enhance the stock of lobster.

Inspired by other fishermen's association involved in such activities in Maine (USA), New-Brunswick (Canada) and Orkneys (UK), RPPSG started its hatchery project in 2010. At first, lobsters were cultured using homemade structures kept in the larval culture tanks, then released through a pipe run-down from a tank aboard the boat to a diver about 8-10 m deep. All the process was space and time consuming, larvae and structures were hard to handle and furthermore, many postlarvae were eaten right away by fishes following the diver releasing the lobster postlarvae, ruining 3-4 weeks of work!

When visiting Orkney's hatchery in Scotland Jean Côté, RPPSG scientific director and hatchery manager, learned about the Aquahive and in 2011, he decided to try this innovative system specially designed for the production of lobsters from larvae to juveniles. M. Côté found out that it is an excellent system, with a simple tray system that requires only one-time handling of the small lobsters when they are put into their individual cells. In addition, a great advantage of the Aquahive is that larvae can be transferred from larval tank to the trays at Stage 3 and Stage 4 at the same time, avoiding the period of highest predation in the tank which occurs during the Stage 3-4 molting. Also, it allows keeping thousands of postlarvae until they reach Stage 5 or 6, ensuring a better survival after release because they are bigger and stronger. Finally, when time comes to set trays on the bottom to release the Stage 5 or 6, it further involves the fishermen directly in the project which is a powerful means of sensitization about the fragility of this resource.

Using the Aquahive increased the overall survival of the lobster larvae and the production capacity of the hatchery. Jean Côté liked it so much that in 2017, he added a second unit to its hatchery to double the production of the hatchery. "I would recommend it to any lobster hatchery, especially if you want to release larger postlarvae. You also get a tremendous support from the Aquahive team, helping you setting up the system, starting it and using it." Since he's using the Aquahive, 440,000 Stage 4, 5 and 6 postlarvae have been released in southern Gaspé.

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