AVC and Memorial University apply genomics research to aquaculture industry innovation

Federal and provincial governments invest close to $3.5 million in innovative aquaculture initiative
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Dr. Mark Fast, associate professor at UPEI's Atlantic Veterinary College

The Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI is participating in a pan-Atlantic research initiative to improve the health and welfare of cultured Atlantic salmon using genomic and other biotechnologies. The project will equip the Atlantic salmon aquaculture industry with the information and tools needed to develop more disease-resistant broodstock and improved vaccines, which will result in a more robust industry. The announcement was made at Memorial University (MUN) on August 9 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, where the project will be led.  MUN News Release

Nick Whalen, Member of Parliament for St. John’s East, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), today announced $2.99 million for the project. The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, provincial Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation announced a provincial government investment of $500,000 for the initiative through InnovateNL.

These investments will enable the researcher team to work with Atlantic Canadian industry and academic partners to mitigate the impact of climate-related challenges on salmon aquaculture. The project will focus on the predicted effects of warming coastal waters and improve methods for protecting salmon from pathogens that can lead to diseases, which can have significant negative economic impacts on the industry.

As a result of this project, Atlantic Canadian fish farmers will be able to expand their workforce and revenue and have more disease-resistant broodstock as well as new scientific tools to improve fish health.

“The global demand for healthy and sustainable protein sources continues to grow,” said Dr. Mark Fast, associate professor at the AVC and a collaborator on this project. “The Atlantic salmon farming industry, in Canada and globally, continues to expand and adjust to fill this demand. Now, in the face of continued global climate change and the threat of more intensive summer and winter seasons, this collaborative research grant will determine the underpinnings of Atlantic salmon’s ability to grow and thrive at higher temperatures, providing industry with genetic markers/tests so it can select and produce salmon more suited to this changing ocean environment. This research is important also for identifying the genetic links between temperature changes, immunity, and disease in salmon. These links should provide information on how to develop more effective vaccines and reduce antibiotic use, again in the interest of enhancing the industry’s ability to produce a healthier, cheaper, and more environmentally sustainable salmon.”

The investment from ACOA is being provided through the Atlantic Innovation Fund, which encourages partnerships among private sector firms, universities, colleges and other research institutions to develop and commercialize new or improved products and services.

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The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.



Media contacts:

Paul McGrath, Director, Communications, ACOA NL
709-772-2984, paul.mcgrath@canada.ca

Eric Humber, Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation NL
709-729-4819, 709-725-9655, erichumber@gov.nl.ca

Susan Flanagan, Memorial University
709-691-7876, 709-864-4073, susan.flanagan@mun.ca

Nicole Phillips
Associate Director
UPEI Marketing and Communications
(902) 566-0947
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