Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2015


Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

DFO delivers programs and services that support the sustainable use and development of Canada’s waterways and aquatic resources. On behalf of the Government of Canada, DFO is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada’s scientific, ecological, social, and economic interests in oceans and fresh waters. It is DFO’s mission to deliver to Canadians the following outcomes:

  • Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries;
  • Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems; and
  • Safe and Secure Waters.

In working toward these outcomes, the Department is guided by the principles of sound scientific knowledge and effective management.

DFO is the lead federal department for the sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture. Responsibility for aquaculture management and development (governance) is shared between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. We work together, with many other partners, to ensure that the legislative and regulatory framework for aquaculture is responsive to the public’s and industry’s needs.

DFO’s aquaculture research aims to address regulatory knowledge gaps, and collaborative research and development with the aquaculture industry. Collaborative research facilitates the transfer of the latest technologies to the aquaculture industry. Research on the environmental effects of aquaculture also provides a solid scientific foundation for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat in marine or freshwater ecosystems. On-going research contributes to scientific certainty with respect to aquaculture operations and how they interact with the aquatic environment.

In recent years, DFO’s research effort has been directed at understanding environmental effects of aquaculture on freshwater and marine habitat and ecosystems. We also invest in aquatic animal health research to understand how best to prevent, mitigate and treat disease. As species diversification is often seen as a means of increasing Canada’s global market share, DFO scientists also play a key role in innovative research.

Further information on priorities, plans, programs and projects can be found on the DFO web site:

Photo of the CCGS Viola M. Davidson anchored at St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS, DFO). This is a specialty vessel, being a small, shallow draught vessel; used primarily for science research. Photo: Roger Wysocki (DFO)

The following DFO programs are currently supporting Canadian aquaculture research:

Program For Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)

The Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR) is an internal DFO research program that supports targeted research projects focused on increasing the relevant science knowledge base to support and advise informed DFO ecosystem-based environmental regulation and decision making for the aquaculture sector.

Originally funded in 2008 as part of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program, and recently renewed through to 2018, PARR supports research that addresses both national and regional regulatory priorities, focusing on increasing the scientific knowledge base in the following areas: environmental effects from and identifying approaches to optimize the management of fish pathogens and fish parasites; cultured-wild fish interactions; effects associated with the release of organic matter from aquaculture activities; understanding habitat interactions; and cumulative effects and ecosystem management.

Since 2010, PARR has approved and funded over 40 targeted projects.

For more information, please visit

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)

The Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) is a DFO initiative to increase the level of collaborative research and development activity between the aquaculture industry and the department, and in some instances with other funding partners. The ACRDP teams industry with DFO researchers to undertake research activities that lie within the mandate of DFO but are based on the needs and priorities of the aquaculture industry. The program allocates ACRDP funds to collaborative research projects that are proposed and jointly funded by aquaculture producer partners. The ACRDP funding is approximately $2 million per year and projects are funded through a nationally competitive process.

The key goals of the program are to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian aquaculture industry; increase collaborative research between the department and industry; facilitate the process of technology transfer and knowledge mobilization; and increase scientific capacity of the Canadian aquaculture industry for essential aquaculture research and development.

The broad research and development objectives, under which National and Regional priorities are established, are twofold:

  • Optimal fish health; and
  • Environmental performance.

Since the program’s inception in 2001, approximately 440 projects have been approved and funded. Over the last five years, DFO and collaborators have invested approximately $10 M into research collaborations for the ACRDP.

For more information, please visit:

Centre For Aquatic Animal Health Research And Diagnostics (CAAHRD)

Aquatic animal health laboratory research involving Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Gulf Fisheries Centre. Photo: Nancy House (DFO)

The Centre for Aquatic Animal Health Research and Diagnostics (CAAHRD) coordinates targeted research, the development of quality diagnostics and the provision of sound scientific advice in support of the NAAHP as well as regional aquatic animal health programs overseen by DFO. The goal is to keep exotic diseases out and to ensure that diseases confined to particular areas don’t spread through the movement of fish or fish products. In addition, Canada has to satisfy trading partners that its exports of fish and fish products do not carry any infectious diseases, and that rule of trade requires a lot of testing.

CAAHRD research is conducted by scientists in DFO’s National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System (NAAHLS). Disease research on live animals for the NAAHP program is done in Canada’s only federal laboratory certified as Aquatic Containment Level 3 (DFO’s Gulf Biosecurity Unit – Aquatic Animal Health Lab in Charlottetown PEI). Diagnostic test development and other research on the pathogens are done by DFO NAAHLS scientists there and at three other NAAHLS facilities: the Gulf Fisheries Centre Aquatic Animal Health Lab (Moncton, New Brunswick), The Freshwater Institute Aquatic Animal Health Lab (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and, the Pacific Biological Station Aquatic Animal Health Lab (Nanaimo, British Columbia).

For more information, visit

Genomics Research and Development Initiative (GRDI)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) uses genomics for the aquaculture industry and in the management of the wild fishery. These tools lead to better disease identification and control, development of techniques to accurately determine the population structure of wild marine fish, and to identify endangered species and minimize illegal or inadvertent harvesting. As an enabling technology, genomics provides powerful tools and precise information to support operational mandates and upon which policy and regulatory decisions can be based.

The GRDI was established for the purpose of building and maintaining capacity inside government departments to do genomics research. Through targeted investments the Initiative has enabled the establishment of critical mass in genomics research that supports innovation in key Canadian sectors, and ensures that federal departments can mobilize their support for the overall, national genomics effort (e.g., projects funded by Genome Canada, CIHR). Programs funded under the GRDI are also used to augment human resources and help create partnerships with other government departments, universities, and industry (where applicable) through the sharing of technology platforms and by collaborating in research areas that cut across traditional departmental sectors.

For information visit

National Research Council (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP):

Enabling small- and medium-sized aquaculture businesses succeed through innovation

Delivered by a comprehensive network of Industrial Technology Advisors (ITAs) and employees across Canada, the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) supports the needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in innovative or technology-driven activities.

NRC-IRAP provides a suite of business and technical advisory services, networking and linkages, and non-repayable financial assistance to SMEs. These services are adapted to the SMEs’ industrial, socio-economic, and geographic make-up in order to provide a customized response to their development needs.

Since April 1, 2013, NRC-IRAP has provided over $3 M in financial support to aquaculture SMEs across Canada to assist them in their new product and process development, improvement, and adoption initiatives. Here are some examples of NRC-IRAP’s financial support and innovative services to the aquaculture sector:

  • NRC-IRAP supported Blacks Harbour, NB, company Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. as part of a $3.8 million collaboration with the University of Guelph to develop genomics tools known as Simple Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) chips, along with traditional breeding practices to allow the company to select for salmon that have better flesh quality and are naturally more resistant to parasites and disease. The anticipated outcome is that genomics will help Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. more accurately identify fish that are naturally more robust, meaning healthier fish that require less medication; and
  • NRC-IRAP continues its support and work with the Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Research and Development Network (ACAIRDN). This helps continue the good work of R&D Coordinators (RDCs) in each of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, and the PEI Aquaculture Industry Alliance. NRC-IRAP has also supported RDCs and other initiatives in associations in BC, Ontario, Quebec, and in the NB shellfish industry. The presence of ACAIRDN and individual RDCs has increased the technical acumen of sector associations, enabling tech transfer to their members, establishing and communicating sector R&D priorities to stakeholders, increasing R&D coordination within the sector, and access to outside expertise for their members.

For more information on the program and to contact your local NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, visit:

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

NSERC aims to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports university students in their advanced studies, promotes and supports discovery research, and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects. NSERC researchers are on the vanguard of science, building on Canada’s long tradition of scientific excellence.

The agency supports almost 30,000 postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding approximately 12,000 professors every year and works with over 3,000 Canadian companies that are participating and investing in postsecondary research projects.

NSERC Engage Grants

An Engage Grant (EG) is intended to give a company that operates from a Canadian base access to the knowledge and expertise available at Canadian universities. The grant supports short term R&D projects to solve a problem specific to the company. The company and the researcher must not have worked together before.

University or college researchers can apply to launch a new research collaboration with an industrial partner through a short-term research and development (R&D) project that applies their expertise to address a company challenge. Partnering companies gain by having the expertise of the academics focused on their R&D issues and by discovering what the researchers and the students working with them have to offer.

Engage Grants support well-defined research projects undertaken by eligible university and college researchers and their industrial partners. A maximum grant of $25,000 over a period not exceeding six months will be awarded to support the project costs.

An Engage project must be aimed at solving a company-specific problem through the generation of new knowledge or the application of existing knowledge in an innovative manner. It must be focused on specific short-term objectives. All proposals must provide evidence that they will create a strong partnership between the participants as well as detailed planning and sound budget justification. They must also clearly spell out the underlying assumptions, intended approaches, milestones and deliverables. As an Engage Grant aims to develop a research relationship, the project plan must detail regular interactions between the participants.


Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC)

Launched in 2008, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Program supports Canadian universities in their efforts to build on Canada’s growing reputation as a global leader in research and innovation. The program awards world-renowned researchers and their teams up to $10 million over seven years to establish ambitious research programs at Canadian universities. These awards are among the most prestigious and generous available globally.

In May 2010, the first group of Canada Excellence Research Chairs was announced. Selected through a rigorous, multilevel peer review process, these chairholders are helping Canada build a critical mass of expertise in the four priority research areas of the federal government’s science and technology strategy:

  • environmental sciences and technologies;
  • natural resources and energy;
  • health and related life sciences and technologies; and
  • information and communications technologies.

In June 2011 the Government of Canada announced the creation of 10 new awards. These new Canada Excellence Research Chairs are being awarded in the four priority areas, as well as in other fields of research. A minimum of three Chairs will be awarded in areas related to the digital economy under the information and communications technologies priority area. At least one Chair will be allocated to each of the remaining three priority areas, and four Chairs will be open to all areas of inquiry.


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences. By focusing on developing Talent, generating Insights and forging Connections across campuses and communities, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world.

Created by an act of Canada’s Parliament in 1977, SSHRC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Industry.

We support research and talent that are central to quality of life and innovation.

SSHRC-supported research in the social sciences and humanities enhances our understanding of modern social, cultural, technological, environmental, economic and wellness issues. It raises profound questions about who we are as human beings, what we need in order to thrive in complex and challenging times, and where we are headed in the new millennium.

The work SSHRC supports encourages the deepest levels of inquiry. It spurs innovative researchers to learn from one another’s disciplines, delve into multiparty collaborations and achieve common goals for the betterment of Canadian society. Research outcomes are shared with communities, businesses and governments, who use this new knowledge to innovate and improve people’s lives.

SSHRC also invests directly in Canada’s future. Through the social sciences and humanities, students receive the best possible training in critical thinking, complex decision-making and creative exploration. By investing in scholarships, fellowships and research training, SSHRC helps develop Canada’s best and brightest scholars and researchers into Canada’s future leaders.

Ressources Aquatiques Quebec (RAQ)

Ressources Aquatiques Québec (RAQ) is a strategic cluster supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT). Its regular members are affiliated with Université du Québec à Rimouski, Université Laval, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal, the École Polytechnique de Montréal, INRS-IAF, McGill University and the CÉGEP de la Gaspésie et des Îles. Several researchers from various federal and provincial government departments, as well as researchers from other Canadian provinces or other countries, are also affiliated as government researchers or researchers from outside Quebec. Its members carry out aquaculture- and recreational/commercial fishery-related research projects.

In aquaculture, RAQ researchers focus on fish, mollusc, crustacean, and microalgae/macroalgae production and participate in joint projects using their expertise in engineering, genomics, quantitative genetics, health, microbiology, physiology, nutrition, behaviour and ecology.

RAQ has always had very close relations with the Quebec aquaculture sector, including the Société de développement de l’industrie maricole (SODIM), the Société de recherche et de développement en aquaculture continentale (SORDAC), the Centre de transfert et sélection des salmonidés (CTSS) and several private sector and government partners.

For further information, please visit

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

Summary of ACOA’s role and investments in Atlantic Canada’s Aquaculture Industry

Established in 1987, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is the federal department responsible for the Government of Canada’s economic development efforts in the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. With offices throughout Atlantic Canada, ACOA works with business and communities to make Atlantic Canada’s economy more innovative, productive and competitive. In addition, ACOA ensures that Atlantic Canada’s interests are reflected in both the policies and programs developed by other departments and agencies of the federal government.

ACOA has a broad mandate to increase employment opportunities and earned income in the Atlantic region. The Agency has identified aquaculture as one of several strategic sectors for Atlantic Canada. Through the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) and the Business Development Program (BDP), ACOA has worked in partnership with industry stakeholders to make investments in innovation and infrastructure that build upon the aquaculture industry’s competitive advantages. For instance, since the inception of the AIF program in 2002, ACOA has made AIF contributions towards R&D aquaculture projects.

Aquaculture R&D Projects related to Fish

Young Atlantic Halibut in tank. Photo: Nancy House (DFO)

  • Genome Atlantic (Pan Atlantic): Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development to Enhance the Commercialization of the Cod Aquaculture Industry.
  • Genome Atlantic (Pan Atlantic): Assessment of Polyploid Physiology and Production Traits in Atlantic cod.
  • Genome Atlantic (Pan Atlantic): Development of Camelina as a Feed Supplement for the Aquaculture Industry.
  • Cooke Aquaculture Inc. (NB): Development and Implementation of Aquaculture Stock Traceability.
  • Huntsmen Marine Science Centre (NB): Development of an Atlantic Salmon Broodstock Facility to Enhance Commercialization Opportunities.
  • Research Productivity Council (NB): Development of a new Fish Pathogen Diagnostic Tool for the Aquaculture Industry.
  • Scotian Halibut Limited (NS): Development of Certified Halibut Broodstock to Enhance Commercialization Opportunities.
  • University of New Brunswick (NB): Integration of a Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Research and Development to Mitigate the Environmental Impact of Marine Cage Culture.
  • University of New Brunswick (NB): Effluent Treatment System for Land-Based Aquaculture to Mitigate Effluent Discharge.
  • Université de Moncton (NB): Broodstock Research and Development related to High Pedigreed Arctic Charr to Enhance Commercialization Opportunities.
  • Cold Ocean (NL): Integration of Physiological, Biochemical, Genetic Innovation for Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Memorial University (NL): Support for Atlantic Cod Broodstock Development and Fish Health Management Protocols to Enhance Commercialization Opportunities for the Aquaculture Industry.
  • Aqua Bounty Canada Inc. and Aqua Bounty Farms Inc. (PEI): Generation of Technology to Produce Reproductively Sterile Atlantic Salmon.
  • Atlantech Engineering & Associates Incorporated (PEI): Advancement of Water Recirculation and Effluent Treatment Technology for the Land-Based Aquaculture Industry.
  • Atlantic Veterinary College (PEI): Healthy Fish, Heathy Environment, Health Food.
  • Atlantic Veterinary College (PEI): Creation of a Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences to Support the Regions Aquaculture Industry.
  • Novartis Animal Health Canada (PEI): Platform Development and DNA Vaccine for Koi Herpes Virus.
  • Novartis Animal Health Canada Inc. (PEI): Mitigation of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) by Vaccination and Genetic Selection.
  • Solarvest (PEI) Inc.: Microalgae Oils for Salmon Feed Nutraceutical Application.

Aquaculture R&D Projects related to Shellfish and Seaweeds

  • PEI Aquaculture Alliance (PEI): Management of Invasive Species (e.g., Tunicates) Fouling Aquaculture Farms.
  • Université de Moncton (NB): Technology and Services to Enhance the Commercialization of the Shellfish (e.g., Oysters) Industry.
  • Acadian Seaplants Limited (NS): Cultivation of Seaweed Biomass for Human Food and Biomass for Active Compounds for use in various sectors (e.g., Agriculture, Nutrition).

For information please consult

Ministry Of Agriculture, Fisheries And Food (Ministère de l’agriculture, des pêcheries et de l’alimentation du Quebéc – MAPAQ)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec – MAPAQ) promotes the sustainable development and competitiveness of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Quebec. MAPAQ contributes, with its partners, to the implementation of strategies and programs to promote innovation.

Through Innovamer, its financial support program, MAPAQ supports research and development technology transfer activities, technical assistance services, monitoring services for aquaculture and environmental data as well as initiatives to disseminate information. It encourages collaboration between industry, institutions, and organizations in R&D.

MAPAQ finances the fund dedicated to research and transfer in freshwater aquaculture managed by the inland aquaculture research and development corporation, Société de recherche et de developpement en aquaculture continentale Inc. (SORDAC). MAPAQ also funds organizations active in R&D such as Merinov and the Salmonid Selection and Transfer Centre (Centre de transfert et de selection des salmonides – CTSS), and sits on their administration boards.

Past its prime and grounded near Baie du Cap Vert in the Magdalen Islands, this boat remembers days long past. Photo: Dan McPhee (DFO)


Merinov, the Quebec Innovation Centre in Aquaculture and Fisheries, was established in June 2010 by MAPAQ, the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, and the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR). The center was established by regrouping well-recognized entities and teams:

  • MAPAQ Centre for Mariculture in the Magdalen Islands (Centre maricole des Îles-de-la-Madeleine – CeMIM);
  • MAPAQ Marine Aquaculture Centre in Grande-Rivière (Centre aquacole marin de Grande-Rivière – CAMGR);
  • MAPAQ Aquatic Products Technology Centre in Gaspé (Centre technologique des produits aquatiques – CTPA);
  • Halieutec College, a center for technology transfer from Cégep; and
  • research teams from UQAR.

Merinov provides innovation to the fishing industry and aquaculture throughout the province of Quebec. The Centre conducts applied research, experimental development, and technology transfer to generate new knowledge and technologies useful to the fishing, aquaculture, and aquatic product processing industries. It provides technical assistance to businesses throughout Quebec and is involved in the monitoring and dissemination of information.

Merinov has four centers in the maritime region equipped with basin rooms, pilot plants, laboratories and versatile equipment. It has boats and measuring equipment for operations at sea and in lagoons. Merinov relies on approximately 90 employees recognized for their multidisciplinary expertise, know-how and high quality work in the development of innovative solutions. They work with several organizations in the fisheries and aquaculture sector as well as Quebec and foreign universities.

Merinov is a not-for-profit organisation composed of some one hundred employees posted at four centres located on the Gaspé Peninsula, the Magdalen Islands, and the North Shore.

Through its services and activities – research and development, technology transfer, technical assistance and monitoring – Merinov contributes to the sustainable development and competitiveness of Québec’s aquatic biomass fisheries, aquaculture and valorisation industry.

Merinov carries out projects involving research and development, monitoring, technical assistance and technology transfer to contribute to the sustainable development and competitiveness of Québec’s aquaculture industry.

For its aquaculture sector, Merinov counts on a team of nearly 40 employees to successfully accomplish some twenty projects underway on the Gaspé Peninsula, North Shore and the Magdalen Islands.


Genome Atlantic

Genome Atlantic is a not-for-profit corporation that aims to help Atlantic Canada benefit from genomics-based research and development. They help develop, procure funding for and manage small-and large-scale genomics projects throughout Atlantic Canada.

Genome Atlantic is focused on areas that can have solid social and/or economic impact, and covers human health, mining, energy, the environment, forestry, agriculture, and aquaculture. Areas of particular interest to the aquaculture sector may include:

  • Disease Management Genomics research can inform earlier diagnosis, management and prevention of disease;
  • Production Efficiency Genomics can help producers increase growth or other desirable traits by informing the broodstock selection process; and
  • Feed Enhancement Genomics can help us identify reactions to different feeds, thereby enhancing our ability to fine-tune feed formulas for optimal fish health.

Genome Atlantic regularly engages with the aquaculture sector and the government and regulatory bodies surrounding the industry to determine the priority areas of research. It also supports specific activities that help to explore and quantify the challenges and respective ROI of proposed research.

In addition to this, Genome Atlantic fosters strategic genomics-based R&D By:

  • Linking industry to relevant genomics-based research expertise;
  • Facilitating partnerships between companies, researchers and other collaborators;
  • Identifying and helping to procure appropriate funding;
  • Supporting proposal development initiatives such as workshops, reviews, and budgeting; and
  • Guiding and/or implementing R&D project management paradigms, financial oversight, and reporting structures.

Genome Canada is a major source of funding for many of the projects that Genome Atlantic helps to develop. However, Genome Atlantic is not limited to Genome Canada funding mechanisms and actively pursues other sources of funding such as NSERC, ACOA, NRC-IRAP and others that are appropriate to the size and scope of the R&D initiative.

To date, with a wide range of partners, Genome Atlantic has helped to generate over $70 million in genomics-based research in the Atlantic region, and continues to look for ways to build on this foundation with targeted, strategic research.

DFO diver, Paul Robichaud, retrieving equipment at the conclusion of a project in the Magdalen Islands. Photo: Dan McPhee (DFO)

Genome canada

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization that acts as a catalyst for developing and applying genomics and genomic-based technologies to create economic and social benefits for Canadians. Genome Canada connects ideas and people across public and private sectors to find new uses for genomics, invests in large-scale science and technology to fuel innovation,and translates discoveries into applications, new technologies, societal impacts and solutions across key sectors of national importance, including health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, energy, mining, and the environment.

To ensure effective management and monitoring of Genome Canada funded projects and science and technology platforms, Genome Centres have been established in each region across Canada. These Centres facilitate access to leading edge technology for researchers, allow for different approaches to project development and fundraising, and provide opportunities for public outreach programs at a regional level.


To harness the transformative power of genomics to deliver benefits to Canadians. Mission

Connecting ideas and people across public and private sectors to find new uses and applications for genomics;

  • Investing in large-scale science and technology to fuel innovation; and
  • Translating discoveries into applications to maximize impact across all sectors.


Respond to societal needs by generating discoveries and accelerating their translation into applications
  1. Attract greater investment in genomics research from a broad range of stakeholders, in particular the private sector
  2. Enhance the impact of genomics by transforming knowledge of the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social challenges and opportunities into sound policies and practices
  3. Enhance the recognition of the value of genomics by increasing stakeholder appreciation of genome science, its applications and its implications