Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Aquaculture in Atlantic Canada

Shellfish: Mussels, Oysters and others


Farmed mussels from Atlantic Canada are the single most important farmed shellfish in Canada in terms of volume, value and socio-economic contributions to the economy.[1] Approximately 23,000 tonnes of farmed mussels are produced in the region each year, of which 50% is exported, mostly into the U.S. market.[2] Atlantic Canada is the primary supplier of live, farm-raised mussels to the United States and has increased its market share in recent years to surpass New Zealand as the leading supplier of farmed mussels in North America. Mussels are high in protein, low in fat, a good source of minerals and vitamins, and an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Mussels farmed across Atlantic Canada, from the iceberg-chilled waters of Newfoundland and Labrador to the deep-water bays of Cape Breton, and from the productive inlets of Prince Edward Island to the east coast of New Brunswick, all provide superior taste and high quality compared with mussels raised in warmer waters overseas. Prince Edward Island is a main player in the mussel culture industry, growing from a mere 1,150 tonnes in 1986 to over 18,000 tonnes in 2009, accounting for 75% of total Canadian output. The farmed mussel industry has become a vital sector of the Island economy, creating approximately 1,165 direct and indirect jobs.[1] In 2009, mussel production from Atlantic Canada accounted for over 95% of the Canadian farmed mussel production, with ample room to grow. Nova Scotia, a pioneer in the development of mussel culture technology, is a significant contributor to the region's mussel production and offers potential for expansion. Similarly, Newfoundland and Labrador's mussel production is increasing steadily (the second highest volume among all provinces in 2010) and has considerable room for future expansion.


Oysters are another growing component of the Atlantic Canada aquaculture industry. There were 3,078 tonnes of oysters produced in 2009, led by the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island is second only to the province of British Columbia in national farmed oyster production. Nova Scotia has been cultivating oysters for almost a century and offers untapped potential, as does New Brunswick, which has plans to significantly increase oyster production along the northeastern coast of the province. The overall Canadian oyster industry is projected to increase several-fold in the next few years with most of this increase coming from aquaculture and from Atlantic Canada.

Clams and quahogs

Nova Scotia is also setting its sights on future shellfish growth; the province's long-term plan for aquatic farming highlights the significant potential from the production of soft-shell clams and quahogs. Nova Scotia has over 2,900 hectares of clam leases for aquaculture production.

Buoys in water
Photo Credit: Cyr Couturier, MUN Marine Institute
Two hands holding shellfish 
Photo Credit: Cyr Couturier, MUN Marine Institute

Farmed shellfish from the cool, pristine waters of Atlantic Canada are a rich, natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential minerals and vitamins, and their flavour and quality are unsurpassed!

Workers surrounded by containers on a boat
Photo Credit: Cyr Couturier, MUN Marine Institute

If you would like more information on this sector, please contact:

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
P.O. Box 6051
Moncton, New Brunswick

Phone: 1-506-851-2271
Toll-free: 1-800-561-7862 (Canada and United States)
Fax: 1-506-851-7403


Map of Eastern Canada and USA, highlighting Atlantic Canada

ACOA logo and the Symbol of the Government of Canada

Catalogue number: AC5-18/2011E-PDF ISBN: 978-1-100-19852-1 ACOA: 2011-12

[1] Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2011 Aquaculture Canada: Facts and Figures
[2] Statistics Canada, 2010. Aquaculture Statistics 2009. Catalogue no. 23-222X. Ottawa, Ont.