Aquaculture, or fish-farming, is a growing industry (no pun intended) in the navigable waters of our island: both in the Bras d'Or Lakes system and the coastal regions. It comprises both finfish and shellfish culture. The finfish raised are mainly Atlantic Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, and Brook Trout. The shellfish raised are mainly Blue Mussel, Scallop, and American Oyster. Kelp growing may also coexist with suspended shellfish culture.
Aquaculture sites may hinder navigation to a degree, but do not block access to any body of water of interest to cruisers. Finfish are raised in large pens that are quite visible. Shellfish may be raised by suspended cultivation or bottom cultivation. Suspended, or off-bottom. cultivation uses various types of structures or ropes suspended from buoys several metres below the surface, and does not restrict passage of small vessels. The suspension buoys are usually black and may not be obvious until one is among them. Suddenly finding oneself in the middle of a hundred hectares (~250 acres) of buoys can be unnerving: just proceed cautiously until clear of them. Yellow cautionary buoys are required to mark the extent of the culture areas but may not be conspicuous.
Oysters are often bottom cultivated in shallow water along shorelines. These areas are usually denoted by lease signs along the shore. Although not a hazard to boats, the edges of oyster shells are sharp enough damage an inflatable dinghy. Cruisers should avoid disturbing these areas.
Sailing Directions may give some information on aquaculture sites, but to our knowledge, Canadian Hydrographic Service charts for the island do not indicate areas of aquaculture. Where finfish pens and suspension aquaculture sites are known to exist, we are endevouring to show them on this site's chartlets. For more information on aquaculture sites in Nova Scotia visit: The Nova Scotia Aquaculture Site Mapping Tool.