Lab Canada

Over $1M funds research toward sustainable aquaculture

Vancouver, BD – Over $1 million is about to be invested in leading edge aquaculture R&D. AquaNet, Canada’s research network in aquaculture, has announced funding for five R&D projects designed to improve responsible and sustainable Canadian aquaculture.

Leading Canadian researchers are gearing up to work in close partnership with industry, government, First Nations, and NGOs. Collaborative teams will work to accelerate commercialization of new finfish species, develop standards for organic aquaculture, identify new feeds for aquaculture, reduce shellfish disease, and improve aquatic animal welfare. The projects have secured over $3 million in co-funding and cash and in-kind contributions.

“The new projects reflect AquaNet’s emphasis on responsible and sustainable aquaculture, for the sake of our environment and in response to public demand for responsibly produced aquaculture products,” says Dr R Scott McKinley, executive scientific director of AquaNet. “The projects integrate natural and social sciences, involve international experts and Canadian aquaculture sector partners and reflect the need for development and pre-commercialisation efforts. The research excellence of our scientists and effective coordination by AquaNet has resulted in new levels of shared funding involving multiple partners and streamlining limited resources. The significant sector contributions speak to the relevance of our research in policy development and culture operations.”

Atlantic Canada’s fish farmers are eager to produce in-demand halibut and cod, but their efforts have been slowed by difficulties in the production of commercial-scale numbers of young Atlantic halibut and cod in hatcheries. AquaNet-funded research and partnerships with federal and provincial governments will help the aquaculture sector to bring these commercially important species to full commercial production. “AquaNet’s support has been crucial in securing additional funding to make this large-scale pre- commercialisation project a reality and advance marine finfish aquaculture in Canada,” says AquaNet project leader Dr Tillmann Benfey from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

Other projects include development of standards for organic aquaculture production (Dr Keith Culver, director of the Centre for Social Innovation Research, University of New Brunswick), and an assessment of how salmon flesh quality is affected by salmon diets (Dr David Higgs, scientist – UBC/DFO Centre for Aquaculture & Environmental Research, in collaboration with the federal government’s aquaculture collaborative research and development program).

Other researchers will investigate ways to limit infections of the disease MSX in shellfish (Dr Franck Berthe, Canada research chair, aquatic health sciences: mollusc health and associate professor, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island), and ways to improve the welfare of fish during live transport (Dr Tony Farrell, chair in sustainable aquaculture, UBC/DFO Centre for Aquaculture & Environmental Research, University of British Columbia).