In the past 10 years, aquaculture has emerged as an increasingly important supplier of fish and seafood. In Canada, aquaculture has become one of the fastest growing food production industries. Similar to land-based farming (beef, poultry, and pork), the aquaculture's industry success, and Canada's competitive edge in the global marketplace, is driven by innovation.
The Government of Canada recognizes the significant benefits to society associated with aquaculture and has made aquaculture development a key priority. The information on this website explains Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) role in the responsible management of the industry, ensuring that the department works with provinces and territories to administer, monitor and enforce compliance with laws and regulations.
Visit the links below to learn more about innovation in the aquaculture industry.
Innovation relies on three fundamental stages: research, development and commercialization (RDC); unique unto themselves, yet fully integrated. They are the building blocks of achieving market advantage and economic success, benefiting the rural and coastal communities involved in this industry.
Research comprises the work undertaken to increase the knowledge, and the use of this knowledge, to develop new applications such as the development of additional species for aquaculture such as sablefish, Atlantic cod, geoduck clam. Some research takes place in the laboratory, however much of the work occurs in the field.
Development is the transition period and includes activities from research to commercial-scale aquaculture. This could be viewed as a large-scale or industrial setting for research, for example, completing some of the concept validation work required to move a product or idea to commercial use.
Commercial defines an operation that is dedicated to an activity that has been proven to be viable, meaning the elements or assumptions of the activity have been proven and can be modeled in a business plan. The objective and expectation of this stage are to create profit.
Commercialization is the process of turning an idea or invention into a useful product or service. Some view commercialization to mean turning an idea or invention into a marketable product or service that will return a profit. Commercialization is a component of the broader innovation process and can include trials or studies that make a financially viable operation more profitable.
Two examples of DFO's contribution in research, development and commercialization of the aquaculture industry is the work underway in the areas of polyculture and biotechnology (see sections below).
In collaboration with industry and other partners, DFO also provides funding through the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) for research and development projects that are funded jointly with the private sector. The ACRDP is a $4.5-million program designed to identify gaps in scientific knowledge and develop research projects to address them. Key areas for ACRDP research are:
Visit this link again to learn more about what DFO is doing to assist with RDC efforts across Canada.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) encourages innovation and the development of new technologies, like closed containment systems that could improve the environmental performance of the salmon farming industry's current practices.
There has been keen interest in closed containment systems for salmon aquaculture over the last year, including a recommendation to invest public dollars into developing closed containment technology.
Closed containment is a barrier technology that attempts to restrict and control interactions between farmed fish and the external aquatic environment. The goal of closed containment technology is to minimize possible environmental effects and provide greater control over factors beneficial to aquaculture production.
DFO regularly re-evaluates improvements to aquaculture equipment and practices - like advancements in cage technology - to examine the advances the industry has made through research and development and on-the-farm experience. We are interested in the technological advancements over the last 5-7 years.
DFO assessed the technical feasibility of closed-containment technology for salmon aquaculture. DFO led a peer-review of six working papers through the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, the department's primary scientific review process.
It is challenging to evaluate closed-containment because no standards have been established and there is limited information on past performance. Critical to this review is that the closed-containment system be evaluated within a commercial production scale.
This technical review is the most current evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses regarding the specific components of closed containment technology, along with an assessment of their ability to integrate efficiently into one complete system. DFO is also conducting an economic analysis of a model, commercial-scale closed containment facility. The technical review, along with our economic analysis, will inform the department’s future management and policy decisions.
Closed containment technology is not as simple as it seems. It is complex; it is not the ‘silver bullet’ that some proponents think it is. This technical review demonstrates the intricacies and knowledge intensive work involved in the operating the technology.
A great deal of emphasis is placed on responsible marine aquaculture practices worldwide. One concept that is currently being examined is Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA). This is the idea of growing finfish, shellfish and marine plants together for the benefit of all crops and the environment. Canadian researchers are studying various aspects of this new integrated model in a pilot project that involves the rearing of Blue mussels and kelp near pre-established Atlantic salmon aquaculture sites in the Bay of Fundy. Research is also underway in British Columbia.
IMTA is based on nutrient recycling which combines, in the right proportions, the cultivation of salmon (fed aquaculture) with that of mussel (organic extractive aquaculture) and kelp (inorganic extractive) aquaculture for a balanced ecosystem management approach. This approach takes into consideration the operational limits within the farm tenure, as well as food safety guidelines and regulations. Mussels are filter feeders and are used to extract the fine particulate wastes from fish cages, like the nutrient-rich food pellets that are not consumed by the fish, while the macro algae absorb dissolved inorganic waste created by the fish farm.
IMTA is an approach that uses the mussels and kelp to recycle the nutrients and can lead to "greener" aquaculture practices through the reduction in waste products in the marine environment and possible sedimentation on the ocean floor. Additional benefits also include a decreased risk of algal blooms and cloudy water. The culture of various species could also lead to economic gains for fish farmers.
Please visit the links below to learn more about IMTA research in Canada:
Biotechnology is a term that encompasses a broad spectrum of scientific applications used in many sectors, such as health, natural resources, and agriculture. It involves the use of living organisms, or parts of living organisms, to provide new methods of production and make new products.
Biotechnology has been in practice for centuries and includes such traditional applications as the use of yeast in making beer, as well as modern applications such as using gene modification techniques to improve crops. Biotechnology also includes genomics science, the analysis of gene structure and function of an organism.
For the record, no genetically engineered fish (GE) have been approved for commercial use, consumption or release in Canada, nor has DFO received any regulatory applications to import or grow GE fish for consumption or release.
Scientists at DFO carry out aquatic biotechnology and genomics research, in secure land-based facilities, to develop tools to help in the conservation and sustainable use of wild fish stocks, the marine environment, and the development of Canada's aquaculture industry. Biotechnology and genomic innovations contribute to the aquaculture industry's growth and success through the diagnosis and management of disease; and through the assessment of any potential impacts that escaped genetically modified fish might have on wild populations.
The application of biotechnology and genomics research to support aquaculture is helping to:
Our biotechnology and genomics science.
Species diversification is often seen as a means of increasing Canada's global market share. The development of new species requires significant research investment to develop broodstock and adapted husbandry practices, and to understand optimal farming conditions and environmental performance. Through the ACRDP, DFO scientists play a key role in pre-production aquaculture science and aquatic biotechnology.
Visit the links below to learn more about the ACRDP projects aimed at developing alternate species for their potential in an economically-viable aquaculture setting.Assessment of genetic diversity of the European oyster in Nova Scotia using microsatellite markers
*DFO researchers are involved in both the New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador aspects of the project.
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