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Survival and behaviour of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) released from an experimental aquaculture operation

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Abstract:

The potential for farmed fish that have escaped from open-cage aquaculture operations to affect native populations will depend on their survival and behaviour in the wild. We used standard commercial practices to rear 10 tonnes of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in a 23ha lake at the Experimental Lakes Area (Ontario, Canada). Each fall (2003–2005), we released farmed rainbow trout (escapees) into the study lake and monitored their movements using automated positioning telemetry. Rainbow trout experienced high annual mortality (~50%), with none surviving beyond 3years. Farmed fish had narrowly defined pelagic distributions that comprised the upper few metres of the water column, even when at the cage site. Although released rainbow trout dispersed throughout the study lake, most spent significant portions of time at the cage site, especially during normal operation when commercial feed was available. Core use areas (50% Kernel) included the farm for half of the released fish. Surviving rainbow trout showed continued reliance upon the cage site in their second year. However, wide dispersal, high growth rate, and lack of reliance on the cage site by some escaped fish warrant further research to assess potential effects of open-cage aquaculture in the water bodies where the industry occurs.

L’effet potentiel des poissons cultivés qui s’échappent des exploitations d’aquaculture en cages ouvertes sur les populations indigènes dépendra de leur survie et de leur comportement en nature. Nous avons utilisé les méthodes commerciales courantes pour l’élevage de 10 tonnes de truites arc-en-ciel (Oncorhynchus mykiss) dans un lac de 23 ha dans la Région des lacs expérimentaux (Ontario, Canada). À chaque automne (2003–2005), nous avons libéré des truites arc-en-ciel d’élevage (échappées de culture) dans le lac d’étude et suivi leurs déplacements à l’aide de la télémétrie de positionnement automatisée. Les truites arc-en-ciel subissent une forte mortalité annuelle (~50%) et aucune n’a survécu plus de 3 ans. Les poissons de pisciculture ont une répartition pélagique étroitement restreinte qui englobe les quelques mètres supérieurs de la colonne d’eau, même au site de la cage. Bien que les truites arc-en-ciel libérées se dispersent dans tout le lac étudié, la plupart passent une partie significative de leur temps près du site de la cage, particulièrement durant les opérations normales quand la nourriture commerciale est disponible. Les zones centrales d’utilisation (50% Kernel) comprennent la pisciculture pour la moitié des poissons libérés. Les truites arc-en-ciel survivantes continuent de dépendre du site de la cage durant leur seconde année. Cependant, la dispersion étendue, le taux élevé de croissance et l’absence de dépendance de la cage chez certains poissons échappés de culture méritent une étude plus poussée pour évaluer les effets potentiels de l’aquaculture en cage ouverte dans les milieux aquatiques dans lesquels cette industrie est établie.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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