Developing new techniques for the evolution of aquaculture-based seafood is the goal of the Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) program based out of the St. Andrews Biological Station and the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Under the leadership of Drs. Shawn Robinson (DFO) and Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ), the program team promotes the practice in which the by-products (wastes) from one species are recycled to become inputs (fertilizers, food) for another so that the entire operation becomes more socially acceptable, economically profitable and environmentally benign. The concept revolves around fed aquaculture (e.g. fish, shrimp) being combined with inorganic extractive (e.g. seaweed) and organic extractive (e.g. shellfish, deposit feeders) aquaculture to create balanced systems. The research has been ongoing in the Bay of Fundy with the salmon industry for 6 years.
Research is continuing on monitoring the production of the blue mussels, tracing the energy flow through the site, IMTA-compatible methods of seed collection, the role of mussels as a potential remediation tool for some viral diseases, and seasonal patterns of nutritional status of the shellfish. Food traceability studies have shown that mussels are of very high quality and can be identified bio-chemically according to the geographic region in which they were grown based on fatty acids and stable isotopes.
We are continuing to work with various regional and national managers to promote and evolve the IMTA concept within and outside of Canada with our research partners and the Pacific SEA-Lab Research Society in British Columbia. There is now a significant degree of awareness and support for the IMTA concept in Ottawa as a national initiative.