Keith Hutchings, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, announced the funding, which will continue a project involving the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association aimed at controlling the spread of vase tunicate.
“When aquatic invasive species appear in a marine environment, they can pose a significant ecological threat that can impact the province’s fishing and aquaculture sectors. The Provincial Government is pleased to commit $30,000 to continue its partnership with the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association to prevent the spread of vase tunicate. With the assistance of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Memorial University, important research will help ensure the province’s marine environment and economy are protected,” said Keith Hutchings, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
In 2012, a population of vase tunicate was discovered in Placentia Bay, and early detection created an opportunity to test ways to remove the species and prevent its spread. Native to northern Europe, this species develops individually, but can cluster with other vase tunicates to form masses of clumps, weighing down and fouling fishing and aquaculture gear. The Provincial Government initially invested $30,000 to test removal techniques on vessels and wharves. In addition, information was collected on the size of the tunicate population and environmental conditions associated with the growth and reproduction of this invasive species.
“The Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association and its members are dedicated to sustainable aquaculture that is respectful of marine environments, and produces valuable economic activity for coastal communities. We appreciate the Provincial Government’s support of research that will protect shellfish sites and coastal areas from this dangerous invader, which has the potential to do extensive and long-term damage if it were to spread,” said Cyr Couturier, President, Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association.
The Provincial Government’s investment will continue the study of changes in the vase tunicate population, and will also support the evaluation of mitigation techniques. Should these techniques prove successful, they will be used to control the spread of the tunicate in any area of the province where it is found.
This investment to protect marine environments and the shellfish aquaculture industry builds on other investments in aquaculture this year. Budget 2014: Shared Prosperity, Fair Society, Balanced Outlook included an investment of C$6 million in the Aquaculture Capital Equity Investment Program to support the further development of new aquaculture operations, which in turn will stimulate the economy in rural areas. Budget 2014 also provided permanent funding of more than C$300,000 annually for the Provincial Government’s Coastal and Oceans Management Strategy and Policy Framework.