Fouling organisms in bivalve aquaculture cause significant economic losses for the industry. Husbandry strategies to reduce biofouling can involve avoidance, prevention, and treatment. In this way, the type of rope used to collect spat or grow bivalves may prevent or reduce fouling by particularly harmful species but remains largely untested. Further, while a range of eco-friendly control methods exist, their effect on widespread, common biofoulers is poorly known. We tested biofouling accumulation and spat collection for seven commercially used ropes, and evaluated treatments of ambient and heated seawater, acetic and citric acid, and combinations of both applied across a range of exposure times to two commercially grown shellfish (Mytilus galloprovincialis and Ostrea angasi) and three biofouling species (Ectopleura crocea, Ciona intestinalis and Styela clava). Rope types differed significantly in terms of fouling rates and spat collection, with specific rope types clearly advantageous, despite not being used commercially in our study area. Treatments proved variably successful, with E. crocea highly susceptible to all treatments, Ciona intestinalis moderately susceptible, and Styela clava relatively resistant. Excluding S. clava, efficacious treatments were attainable that did not adversely affect shellfish. Combining heat and acid treatments were more successful than individual treatments and provide a useful avenue for further trials. This study provides baseline evidence for treatment efficacy that will tailor longer-term, field trials to validate and streamline biofouling treatments in shellfish aquaculture.
Sievers M, Dempster T, Keough MJ, and Fitridge I (in press). Methods to prevent and treat biofouling in shellfish aquaculture. Aquaculture. DOI: j.aquaculture.2019.02.071.