Sea Cucumber Containment

Exploring and developing containment methods for growth of sea cucumbers in British Columbia.

Project Dates: October 15, 2020 – February 15, 2021
Funding Amount: $25,000
Students Hired: 2

Sea cucumber containment systems are currently being tested in the lab prior to testing in the field at an oyster tenure.

Project Summary

The sea cucumber aquaculture industry in British Columbia is challenged by the lack of readily available and inexpensive containment methods for growth of sea cucumbers on the ocean floor. The project aims to tackle this challenge by developing and testing containment methods for sea cucumbers grown alone or in co-culture with other farmed species. Two containment systems have been proposed, including modified geoduck 'bags on the bottom,' and tubular plastic netting stabilized by PVC piping. These systems will be designed and tested in a lab space to determine the optimal mesh size, anchoring mechanisms, installation protocols, and stocking densities. Experimental containment systems will then be tested in the field to assess their practicality and functionality for sea cucumber aquaculture. Increasing access to practical and inexpensive containment will help expand the industry and promote sustainable aquaculture practices.

Industry partner, BC Pacific Oysters, is collaborating on the project as a means to allow expansion of their farm in Jervis. Inlet, BC to include a new revenue stream from cultured sea cucumbers.

Research Team

Dr. Emaline Montgomery, Lead Researcher
Dr. Emaline Montgomery is a research associate and biology instructor at North Island College. Her research focus is sustainable invertebrate aquaculture and polyculture.
Dan McDermid, Industry Partner and Researcher
Dan McDermid is a founding partner of BC Pacific Oysters, which has been culturing geoducks, oysters, mussels, and scallops since 2007.
Dr. Chris Pearce, Research Advisor
Dr. Chris Pearce is a research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo where he has been conducting research on sustainable invertebrate aquaculture for the past 18 years.

Project Outcomes

Three containment systems were tested in the lab. One was identified as being suitable for further testing in the field.

Three stocking densities were also tested in the lab. Medium density was identified as being suitable for further testing in the field. The selected containment method and stocking density will allow the industry partner to successfully include sea cucumbers into their tenure. Fieldwork could not be completed in the original project timeframe due to COVID restrictions and a personal health emergency incurred by the main representative of the industry partner.