New invasive tunicate hits N.B. waters
An aquatic invasive species never seen before in New Brunswick has been spotted on the Acadian Peninsula.
Michel Poitras, an oyster harvester who teaches aquaculture at the Caraquet campus of the New Brunswick Community College, says the golden star tunicate he discovered off Caraquet earlier this month is worrisome.
Tunicates enrobe mollusks and suffocate them, leading to high mortality rates among shellfish, he said.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating the situation to determine how the species got here, and how extensive the problem is.
A DFO spokesman says a meeting will be held later this week to come up with a battle plan for fighting off the small, damaging invaders.
Aquaculturist Gaétan Dugas said the federal and provincial governments are not doing enough to keep harvesters informed, with no phone calls or emails coming yet to explain the situation.
Invasive tunicates, sometimes called sea squirts, have been a problem in Atlantic Canada for at least 40 years. A new invading tunicate species has been reported in local waters at least once every five years since 1970, according to the DFO website.
The species can arrive through ballast water, attached to hulls or on fishing gear.
The Canadian and P.E.I. governments spent more than $1 million in 2005 trying to find a solution to the tunicate problem in that province, and another $600,000 was pledged in 2008.