Alternate Species

A number of alternate, newer species are under development and commercialization in Canada. The purpose is to diversify production, enhance natural capture fisheries production, and access new market opportunities for the increasing global demand for healthy, high quality seafoods.

Sea Urchins

The roe (eggs) of green sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) and red sea urchin (S. franciscanus) are an expensive delicacy in Japan, parts of Europe, and increasingly in South and North America. Because the demand for sea urchin roe – called “uni” in sushi bars – has grown dramatically over the past decade, many traditional fisheries have been virtually depleted of sea urchins. The development of sea urchin aquaculture could create a new multi-million dollar industry in Canada – as well as contribute to the rehabilitation of wild sea urchin populations in areas depleted due to overfishing.

Spotted & Atlantic Wolffish

Due to its ability to thrive in cold marine waters, spotted and Atlantic wolffish are considered very promising candidate species for cold water aquaculture in the North Atlantic. Wolffish also display remarkable attributes for domestication (tolerance to density, salinity, water quality changes, egg and larval size, no live prey requirements, and farming-friendly behavior) and market potential (excellent flesh and taste characteristics, niche market, price). Research efforts in Canada are aimed at developing domestic wolffish broodstocks and improving the survival of young wolffish.

Spotted and Atlantic wolffish are listed as “threatened” in nature due to overharvesting, and no commercial harvesting is permitted. The development of farming methods for wolffish will aid conservation efforts of wild wolffish by providing much needed insight into biological factors affecting natural populations. Farmed juvenile wolfish may also play an important role in wild wolffish enhancement efforts.

Marine Plants

In Nova Scotia, Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) is farmed in land-based tanks for the edible Asian sea-vegetable market.

Food grade kelps are being co-cultivated in experimental farms for Integrated-Multi-Trophic Aquaculture, with the view of enhancing the sustainability of fed aquaculture systems and adding value to the overall process. Kelps can be used in a variety of traditional and novel dishes, and are an excellent source of iodine.


Northern or Pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) are native to British Columbia’s coast. Due to the significance of abalone as a traditional food, many BC First Nations have expressed support for the development of a BC abalone aquaculture industry.

In Nova Scotia, red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) are currently being raised from small juveniles purchased from a hatchery in Iceland.

Abalone flesh is creamy white, firm in texture, and has a mild flavour. It is considered a gourmet delicacy in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Since global market demand for abalone exceeds the market supply, abalone is a highly valuable commodity (CAD$30-40/kg).

Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumbers (Parastichopus californianus) are an Asian delicacy with reported aphrodisiac qualities. Products from sea cucumber include muscle strips (fresh or frozen) and dried skins or sections. The main market for sea cucumber products is China and Japan. Sea cucumbers are co-cultured with fish and shrimp in Asia as a means of recycling nutrients and adding value to the production systems. Interest in developing sea cucumber culture in tandem with fish culture is now being evaluated in Canada as a means of enhancing the overall output of the systems.


Cockles (Clinocardium nuttalli) – also called basket cockles – are native to British Columbia’s coast. Due to significance of cockles as a traditional food, many BC First Nations have expressed support for the development of a BC cockle aquaculture industry.

Since the hardiness of cockles allows them to withstand severe winter conditions, they represent the best opportunity for intertidal bivalve culture on BC’s north coast. Market research indicates that cockles would be readily accepted into the upscale food service trade and sushi market.