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Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2011


Aquamax Net Manager: green net management

Fish pen nets that hang in the ocean can become covered with algae, crustaceans, tunicates, etc. which impede the flow of water and oxygen in and out of the net pens. The build-up on the nets is referred to as 'biofouling'. Not only can biofouling be unhealthy for the fish, but it can also increase the weight of the net. Biofouling poses a continuing challenge to aquaculture producers in British Columbia. Existing management techniques, such as copper-based anti-fouling dips, pose potential environmental and fish health concerns, are of limited effectiveness, and may reduce net durability.

Shorelink Enterprises has addressed these concerns with the development of an innovative, environmentally-friendly, efficient, economically-viable, and modular anti-fouling technology. The Aquamax Net Manager is a transportable net cleaning system that is moved by vessel or barge from aquaculture site to the aquaculture site. The system does not require that the cage nets be removed from the water for cleaning. It can also be moved over land using its own customized transport trailer or partially disassembled for easy placement in shipping containers for long distance travel.

On-site testing of the Aquamax Net Manager has demonstrated efficient, effective net cleaning capability. In addition to its environmental benefits, this new technology offers significant cost saving potential through reductions in the need for existing anti-fouling agents, net inspections conducted by divers, traditional net cleaning, and through increases in net longevity.

July 2009 – Aug. 2010 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP), Shorelink Enterprises Ltd., Sablefish Canada Inc.
Project team: Deane Larson (Shorelink Enterprises Ltd.), Terry Brooks (Sablefish Canada Inc.)
Contact: Deane Larson ( OR Results of the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program

The Aquamax Net Manager in the water

Key viral characteristics for infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in Atlantic Salmon

In British Columbia, IHNV is the most economically important viral pathogen of salmonids. Since the introduction of Atlantic Salmon to the BC coast in the mid 1980's, there have been two disease outbreaks of IHN in farmed Atlantic Salmon resulting in an estimated $200 million in lost sales.

A central question regarding these outbreaks is the role of natural waterborne transmission in the spread of virus between farms and to surrounding wild salmonid populations. The IHN virus can survive for several hours in saltwater at temperatures below 15°C. Therefore, it's not unconceivable that viable and infective IHNV could be transmitted by movement of water from virus infected Atlantic Salmon farms to uninfected fish either proximal or distant from the source.

Water circulation models can be used in developing pathogen dispersal models and in assessing transmission risks. Key properties required in the development of a viral dispersal model are the relationship between the rate of viral shedding, the viral concentration in sea water and the minimum dose of virus required to induce infection in Atlantic Salmon. At the DFO Pacific Biological Station, quantitative estimates of these parameters have been determined for Atlantic Salmon post-smolts. This information is being incorporated in a water circulation model being developed at the DFO Institute of Ocean Sciences, to provide more accurate geospatial predictions of risk for IHNV in farmed Atlantic Salmon.

July 2009 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Grieg Seafood, Mainstream Canada, Marine Harvest Canada
Project team: Dario Stucchi (DFOIOS), Mike Foreman (DFOIOS), Kyle Garver (DFOPBS)
Contact: Kyle Garver ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm


Kudoa thyrsites – increasing our knowledge

Kudoa thyrsites is an intramuscular parasite that has a world wide distribution and can infect several species of fish. This parasite imposes no fish health risks, but instead affects product quality by causing pitting and softening of the fish muscle tissue after harvest. At low levels of infection the pathology of Kudoa thyrsites infection can go unnoticed, but at higher levels it produces extensive myoliquefaction and the fish meat is no longer commercially viable. Marine Harvest Canada and the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences (BC CAHS) have embarked upon a 3 year joint research and development project to increase our understanding of Kudoa thyrsites. During the first year, two saltwater farm sites will be monitored to determine when the fish become infected and how the infection develops throughout the production cycle. In addition, this initiative will also aim at identifying the infective stage of the parasite and to develop a non-lethal test that allows for tracking individual fish throughout the production cycle. This increased knowledge of the parasite's life cycle and infective stages, timing and progression of infection may lead to effective management decisions to limit or avoid infection, future vaccine development, and improved husbandry strategies.

May 2010 – Apr. 2012 • Funded by:Marine Harvest Canada
Project team: Diane Morrison (Marine Harvest Canada), Luis O.B. Afonso (BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences), Tiffany MacWilliam (MHC), Wyth Marshall (BC-CAHS), Heather Lamson (BC-CAHS), Zina Richmond (BC-CAHS), Paula Galloway (BC-CAHS), Sonja Saksida (BC-CAHS)
Contact: Diane Morrison (, Luis O.B. Afonso (

Plasmodia of Kudoa thyrsites within the muscle

Identify and understand the virulence factors of Aeromonas salmonicida, the bacteria causing Furunculosis

Furunculosis is an infectious disease occurring particularly in farmed trout and salmon. The disease is caused by the Aeromonas salmonicida bacteria. Despite the available treatments (antibiotics, vaccination), Furunculosis is recurrent and causes serious problems for aquaculturists. One solution to this problem involves creating compounds to complement antibiotics and decrease the infectious nature of the bacteria. The development of these anti-infection agents requires, as a first step, better understanding the virulent behaviour of the bacteria and thus finding molecular targets suitable for developing these anti-infection agents. We are therefore studying the type-three secretion system (TTSS), an essential virulence factor of A. salmonicida. More specifically, our analysis examines the role of certain toxins secreted by the TTSS and the stability of the genes coding for this system. Concurrently with this research, an approach including genetic screening and genomic analysis will be implemented to identify new genes involved in the virulence of the bacterium. The objective is to define the infectious nature of A. salmonicida and propose new approaches for treating infections caused by this bacterium.

Mar. 2008 – ongoing • Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Réseau Aquaculture Québec (RAQ)
Project team: Steve Charette (Laval University), Stéphanie Dallaire-Dufresne (Laval University), Katherine Tanaka (Laval University), Geneviève Filion, Michael Reith (IBM - CNRC)
Contact: Steve Charette (

Strategies to prevent off-flavours in fish raised in closed-circuit aquaculture system

In recirculating aquaculture systems, the growth of certain bacteria (Streptomyces) can produce chemical compounds with an earthy odour. These compounds, primarily geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB), are semi-volatile and non-toxic and accumulate in fish tissue. Treatment of the odour/flavour causes delays in fish production and marketing, resulting in economic losses. Pure strains isolated at Laboratoire régional des sciences aquatiques (LARSA) (Université Laval) and identified as Streptomyces lavendulae and S. anulatus have been used to create specific molecular tools from synthetic genes (cyc/GeoA). These tools are designed to facilitate the detection, monitoring and quantification of these bacteria to warn aquaculturists of the presence of off-flavour-producing Streptomyces in aquaculture tanks. This project is also designed to identify the factors leading to the development of Streptomyces.The procurement and use of probiotic bacteria should create competition, thereby slowing the development of Streptomyces and the production of off-flavours, while improving water quality and fish health. Bacterial competition will be evaluated in the laboratory and in recirculating tanks. This project should make it possible to facilitate the development of recirculating aquaculture systems in Canada.

Apr. 2010 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: Armand Frappier Institute IAF-INRS, Université Laval, NSERC Project team:Marc Auffret(IAF-INRS), Grant Vandenberg (U Laval), Alexandre Pilote (U Laval), Daniel Proulx (U Laval), Richard Villemur (U Laval), Janusz Pawliszyn (U Laval), Yves Comeau (U Laval) Contact:Marc Auffret (

Culture of a strain of Streptomyces

Prevention of off-flavours in fish grown in recirculating aquaculture systems

The presence of off-flavours in farm-raised fish represents one of the most significant economic problems encountered in aquaculture related to product quality and may cause a major reduction in the consumption of the products, or make them unsuitable for sale. Off-flavours are due to the absorption of substances, including geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB). When present in water these substances accumulate in the fat of fish.

The main objective of this project is to develop strategies to prevent the occurrence of geosmin and MIB in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). The hypothesis is that it is possible to produce fish in RAS without off-flavours in the fish by selectively controlling the development of off-flavour producing microorganisms by: (i) manipulating key operational parameters of RAS, (ii) optimizing diets that reduce off-flavour producing compounds, and (iii) adding compounds that would selectively eliminate off-flavour-producing microorganisms that have no effect on wastewater treatment biofiltration, and the fish. This will be achieved by: (1) identifying and localizing microorganisms responsible; (2) developing a technique for real-time non-destructive detection of MIB and geosmin; (3) identifying the key environmental, nutritional and operational parameters involved in the development of these microorganisms; and (4) increasing the control on the microorganisms responsible for off-flavours.

Oct. 2009 – Oct. 2012 • Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada(NSERC), Institut national de recherche scientifique(INRS), Interprovincial Partnership for Sustainable Freshwater Aquaculture Development (IPSFAD/PIDDAED), Réseau Aquaculture Québec (RAQ), Société de Recherche et de Développement en Aquaculture Continentale (SORDAC Inc.)
Project team: Richard Villemur (INRS), Yves Comeau (Polytechnic school Montreal), Janusz Pawliszyn (University of Waterloo), Grant Vandenberg (U Laval), Marc Auffret (INRSIAF), Karla Vazquez (INRS-IAF), Roger Dubuc (INRS-IAF), Alexandre Pilote (U Laval), Daniel Proulx (U Laval), émilie Proulx (U Laval), Sanja Risticevic (University of Waterloo), Ziwei Bai (University of Waterloo), Kevin K. Schrader (US Dept Agriculture)
Contact: Richard Villemur (

BioCage to control fish farm escapes via a genetically modified food requirement

The ultimate objective of this study is to develop a line of transgenic Atlantic Salmon with an increased requirement for a specific nutrient that cannot be supplied by foods in the natural environment, but could be incorporated into fish feed formulations. Penned fish would remain healthy, but without the extra nutrient in their prepared feed; escaped fish would be unable to reproduce and would soon die due to lack of the missing nutrient.

The project is a three-year investigation designed to: 1) evaluate several genetic constructs that would have the effect of increasing the specific requirement for a particular nutrient; 2) use a model species to verify appropriate expression of the modified or introduced genes; and 3) validate the ability of special feed formulations to maintain good growth and health in the modified fish.

The requirements of non-transgenic fish for this nutrient have been assessed. An interaction between this nutrient and its natural antagonist in the diet of non-transgenic fish was studied. The genetic construct that increases the requirements for this nutrient was developed. The effect of this nutrient on fish reproduction must be verified before the production of the transgenic fish can be considered.

Oct. 2007 – Nov. 2010 • Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Atlantic Salmon Federation, Réseau Aquaculture Québec (RAQ-FQRNT), Laval University
Project team: Grant Vandenberg (U Laval), Marc Ekker (U Ottawa), Garth Fletcher (Memorial University), Lyne Létourneau (U Laval), François Pothier (U Laval), Rodrigue Yossa Nouaga (U Laval), Pallab-Kumer Sarker (U Laval), Fred Whorisky (Dalhousie U), Bill Robertson (Atlantic Salmon Federation), Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Contact: Grant Vandenberg (

Biological approaches for the prevention and treatment of the fungus Saprolegnia parasitica in fish

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, epidemics are increasingly recognized as a major economic obstacle to aquaculture and trade in many countries around the world. Fungal diseases are the second leading cause of mortality in aquaculture, particularly in crustacean and finfish culture.

One of the most destructive pathogens is the fungus Saprolegnia parasitica.This fungus is widespread in most freshwater fish species and, if untreated, can cause mortality rates of up to 50% in a given population. New restrictions on the chemicals used to treat and prevent fungal infections have resulted in the need to find new alternatives. The objective of the project is to use beneficial microbial cultures or phytochemical products from the boreal forest to treat or prevent fungal infections. It will provide the fish farming industry with a new environmentally sound approach for preventing or controlling pathogens in order to ensure healthy products for Canadian consumers.

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2012 • Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Société de recherche et de développement en aquaculture continentale (SORDAC) inc., Réseau Aquaculture Québec (RAQ)
Project team: Grant Vandenberg (U Laval), Pierre Belhumeur (U Montréal), Jean Legault (U Chicoutimi), André Pichette (U Chicoutimi), David Martel (U Laval), Jessica Seenevaragachetty (U Laval), Vincent Domingue-Gauthier (U Montreal), émilie Proulx (U Laval), Joe Schmidt (AgraQuest Inc.), Céline Audet (RAQ)
Contact: Grant Vandenberg (

Alevin infected by Saprolegnia parasitica

Marketing transgenic fish and foods derived from cloned animals in Canada

The regulation of biotechnology developments is at the root of controversial moral issues. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway, are "early adopters" and are quick to provide a framework for these developments. In other countries, considered "late adopters", there is a considerable time lag between the demonstration of technical and scientific developments and the adoption of appropriate normative frameworks. Canada is in the second group.

The purpose of this project is to explain the time lag in Canada through an analysis of the public policy development cycle in the area of the marketing of transgenic fish and products derived from cloned animals. We advance the hypothesis that the lag could be related to the presence of constraining factors or obstacles resulting from the interaction among ideas, political players and the political/administrative authorities responsible for adopting such policies. Specifically, we will examine the fact that the political/administrative authorities have more experience resolving technical issues than with resolving ethical issues, which reflects the values of the conflicting parties.

Jan. 2009 – Dec. 2013 • Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSCRC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Réseau Aquaculture Québec (RAQ), Réseau EmbryoGÈNE
Project team: Lyne Létourneau (U Laval), Olga Carolina Cárdenas-Gómez (U Laval), Louis-Simon Corriveau (U Laval), Steve Jacob (U Laval), Marc-André Sirard (U Laval), Grant Vandenberg (U Laval) Contact: Lyne Létourneau (

A new centre for seaweed research in Quebec

A centre for seaweed research, aquaculture and development (CEVAM, Centre d'étude et de Valorisation des Algues Marines) has recently been created in Québec. Based at the École des Pêches et de l'Aquaculture du Québec (EPAQ), a fisheries and aquaculture technical school, CEVAM is a provincially-funded partnership between Université Laval in Québec City and the CEGEP de la Gaspésie et les îles, the regional college in Gaspé. The goals of CEVAM are to promote both fundamental and applied research on macroalgae in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Canadian Arctic and to assess the potential for the exploitation of algal resources in natural and aquaculture settings. Training workshops on seaweeds are regularly organised. Research on natural seaweed populations is focusing initially on the ecology of kelp beds in cold water, looking more specifically at local and regional productivity and trophic interactions within these ecosystems. Current aquaculture projects involve three species (Saccharina longicruris, Alaria esculenta, and Palmaria palmata) that are cultured in the laboratory and then transferred to an offshore experimental farm to assess growth and harvest yields. CEVAM research will generate key ecological data for the management of natural algal populations and the development of the algoculture industry in Quebec.

Mar. 2009 – ongoing • Funded by:MÉLS, Laval University, Cégep de la Gaspésie et des îles, Société de développement de l'industries maricole (SODIM), MAPAQ, DFO, FQRNT, NSERC
Project team: Éric Tamigneaux (CEVAM, ÉPAQ), Anissa Merzouk (CEVAM, U. Laval), Vivianne Bélair (U. Laval, CRIQ), Daniel Bourdages (CEVAM, ÉPAQ), Robert Chabot (UQAR), Mathieu Cusson (UQAC), Antoine Dumais-Roy (CEVAM, ÉPAQ), Louise Gendron (DFOIML), Marie-Joëlle Leblanc (MERINOV), Aurélie Licois (MERINOV), Bruno Myrand (MERINOV), Laurent Seychelles (CÉVAM, ÉPAQ)
Contact: éric Tamigneaux (


Brown Alga cultivation in the Gaspé Peninsula to avoid colonization by the bryozoan and to increase the number of annual harvests

The Brown Alga (Saccharina longicruris) cultivation trials conducted in Chaleur Bay, Quebec in 2006 and 2007 involved a single annual production cycle (i.e., from April to November). During these trials, the plants were seriously degraded due to colonization by an invasive bryozoan (Membranipora membranacea) in summer. The objectives of the study conducted in 2008-2009 were to determine whether it was possible to reduce losses due to the bryozoan by altering the production cycle in order to avoid cultivating S. longicruris in summer and to obtain good yields with three four-month production cycles per year (fall, winter and spring cycles). The results show that short cycles do not allow for a sufficient yield. However, placing plants in the water in late fall and harvesting them the following July (8-10 month production cycle) could be an effective cultivation strategy for S. longicruris, with yields of 3.3 kg m-1 of line, comprised of large (blade ≥ 1 m), attractive blades, free of bryozoans.

Apr. 2008 – Jul. 2009 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Société de développement maricole (SODIM), Halieutec, DFO, Les Gaspésiennes inc.
Project team: Louise Gendron (DFOIML), Éric Tamigneaux (Halieutec), Raymond Ferembach (Les Gaspésiennes inc.)
Contact: Louise Gendron ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Appearance of kelp blade covered with the bryozoan Membranipora membranacea compared to a healthy kelp blade(2006)

Development of ELISA assays for detection of antibodies against viral pathogens in fish

Occasionally, viral pathogens that have short infection periods can be difficult to detect using diagnostic assays (e.g., viral culture or PCR). Seroconversion, the development of antibodies against a specific pathogen, is a typical response in many fish surviving systemic exposure to an infectious organism. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) are commonly used to assess the presence and titer of antibodies to viral pathogens (i.e., infectious salmon anemia (ISAV), viral hemorrhagic septicaemia (VHSV)), and are important tools in epidemiology, and disease management strategies in farmed fish. Furthermore, samples can be collected using non-lethal sampling methods, an advantage when testing the health status of broodstock and valuable fish. These assays can provide important pieces of historical information such as whether a population has been exposed to the virus and whether a carrier state has been established in that population, thus guiding decisions regarding transfer (including import/export) or use of fish that may be asymptomatic carriers.

In this project, we will evaluate the current state of development of ELISA assays for the detection of antibodies against viral pathogens, including ISAV and VHS. An ELISA system will be developed and analytical validation of the assay should be performed minimally to determine the sensitivity and usefulness of the assay.

Apr. 2010 – Mar. 2013 • Funded by: DFO – CAAHRD (Centre for Aquatic Animal Health Research and Diagnostics)
Project team: Nellie Gagné (DFO), Mathieu Doucet (DFO), Mélanie Roy (DFO), Mark Laflamme (DFO)
Contact: Nellie Gagné (

Atlantic Salmon being sampled for the vaccine study

DNA vaccine models against infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV)

Infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) is a pathogen of salmonids and causes mass mortalities in aquaculture. It remains a recurrent problem in Eastern Canada and Maine since the initial epizootics of 1996.

DNA vaccines rely on the delivery and uptake of DNA plasmids in cells, and translation of an immunogenic peptide using the host machinery. Successful DNA vaccines have been produced against aquatic rhabdovirus, but DNA vaccines against ISAV are still not performing as expected.

Cross presentation is crucial for the generation of CD8 T cell responses against protein-based antigens. As the physiological capacity of antigen presenting cells to cross-present antigen is generally low, there is significant interest to develop reagents that enhance the targeting of exogenous antigens to the crosspresentation pathway.

Heat shock proteins (HSP) have numerous functions, including facilitating translocation of nascent chains across membranes, and targeting proteins for degradation within lysosomes. Studies have shown the efficient binding of small hydrophobic peptide sequences to HSP. Such binding sequences may be incorporated into a plasmid construct, to maximize the covalent binding of HSP with the antigen of interest.

We propose a novel approach using a plasmid construct expressing ISAV protein subunits combined to an HSP binding sequence, with a suitable linker and signal sequence.

Apr. 2009 – Mar. 2013 • Funded by: DFO – Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Novartis Animal Health Canada Ltd.
Project team: Nellie Gagné (DFO), Mathieu Doucet (DFO), Mélanie Roy (DFO), Mark Laflamme (DFO), Kira Salonius (Novartis Animal Health Canada Ltd.), Nathalie Simard (DFO), Sybil Smith (Novartis Animal Health Canada Ltd.)
Contact: Nellie Gagné ( /aquaculture/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.htm

Mélanie Roy, biologist, preparing cells for transfection

Fish physiology and nutrition

Valorization and commercialization of marine by-products for human and animal feeding and the applications in the prevention of obesity, diabetes and neurodegenerescence

The aim of this project is to identify and incorporate novel ingredients from marine by-products for Atlantic Salmon aquaculture feed.

Nine ingredients will be tested, but only three will be selected for larger scale studies, based on results from Objectives 1 and 2 (see below).

Objective 1: Determination of global gene expression patterns following stimulation by novel fish feed formulations. Initially, global gene expression patterns will be compared over time following stimulation by a series of novel fish feed formulations. This initial study will help us determine which formulations have the most potential at the genetic level. Only formulations showing the most interesting genetic responses will be further studied at the physiological level. The genetic and physiological responses will then be correlated.

Objective 2: Determination of apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC) of the nine selected by-products.

Objective 3: Small-scale nutritional experiments to determine the optimal level of incorporation of the three selected by-products.

Objective 4: Large-scale physiological and nutritional experiments to determine the performance of the three selected by-products. This experiment will determine the commercial potential of the three novel by-products. The best by-products and feed formulation could be eventually commercialized by the aquaculture industry.

2009 – 2014 • Funded by: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), Institut de recherche sur les zones côtières (IRZC)
Project team: Sébastien Plante (UMCS), Jacques Gagnon (IRZC), Nadia Tchoukanova (IRZC), Francis LeBlanc (DFO), Mark Laflamme (DFO), Nellie Gagné (DFO),France Béland (IRZC)
Contact: Sébastien Plante (

Digestibility tanks for salmon feed experiments

Development of novel RNA-based treatment against the infectious salmon anemia virus

Infectious diseases present a significant economic burden to finfish aquaculture industries and there is concern that these diseases may also negatively impact wild fish populations. Specifically, infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) is an important viral pathogen of salmonids that causes mass mortalities. It has remained a recurrent problem in Eastern Canada and Maine since the initial epizootics of 1996. There are currently no post-vaccination treatments available to combat ISAV infections in the fish's later stages of development.

We propose the development of a novel RNA interference-based vaccine against ISAV. RNA interference (RNAi) has been successfully used to combat viral infections in many vertebrate and invertebrate species, and offers the distinct advantage of being used both as a prophylactic vaccine, and as a treatment to combat the virus at the first signs of infection. Contrary to traditional vaccines, RNAi-based vaccines can be developed to be efficacious against all strains of a particular virus.

To date, we have analyzed sequence data and designed interfering RNA which could potentially target all known strains of the ISA virus. These sequences have been cloned and we are in the process of testing the interfering RNAs in cultured cell lines.

Sep. 2009 – Mar. 2013 • Funded by: DFO - Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
Project team:Mark Laflamme (DFO), Adrien Boudreau (DFO), Nellie Gagné (DFO), Keng Pee Ang (Cooke Aquaculture Inc.), Gilles Robichaud (Cooke Aquaculture Inc.)
Contact:Mark Laflamme ( /aquaculture/rp-pr/acrdp-pcrda/index-eng.html

Development of molecular assays for the detection of Perkinsus species

Protozoan parasites of the genus Perkinsus infect many species of marine bivalves throughout the world. Recently developed assays, based on the PCR amplification of specific gene sequences, offer greater sensitivity and specificity than traditional tests; however, these tests are not in widespread use, and they have not been validated to the level expected from legal diagnostics laboratories. We propose to adapt existing PCR-based tests and/or develop new assays for the identification of pathogenic protists from the genus Perkinsus.We will use existing, publicly available, genomic sequence data from all available species to design "updated" real time PCR assays.

The available genetic data suggests that there are sufficient DNA sequence similarities among the different Perkinsus species so that a single PCR-based test could be designed for the detection of the genus Perkinsus as a whole. Further, there are sufficient differences among the genetic sequences of these species so that individual species-specific real time PCR assays could be developed. We intend to develop probe-based real time PCR assays for both the above mentioned cases, i.e., a test capable of detecting the genus as a whole, and individual tests capable of detecting and identifying each individual Perkinsus species.

Apr. 2010 – Mar. 2011 • Funded by: DFO – Centre for Aquatic Animal Health Research and Diagnostics (CAAHRD)
Project team: Mark Laflamme (DFO), Jean René Arseneau (DFO), Mélanie Robichaud-Haché (DFO)
Contact:Mark Laflamme (

Development of interactive and targeted educational resources to help control the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in Atlantic Canada

Information signage

The objective of this project was to increase awareness about the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) throughout Atlantic Canada and prevent the introduction of others (AIS) which are close by (e.g., Didemnum vexillum from the US) by targeting two key audiences: recreational boaters; and First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples Representative Organizations.

Hull fouling is a proven vector for the spread of AIS and boats visit Atlantic Canada from areas infested with AIS not yet present in Atlantic Canada. To target boaters across Atlantic Canada, a website has been developed that displays the locations for AIS on the eastern seaboard of North America and provides information on their impacts and treatments.

First Nations and Aboriginal groups are strongly involved in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors but have not been specifically targeted by previous AIS awareness efforts. Working in partnership with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI and The Native Council of PEI, new materials were developed and distributed through community events such as the Panmure Island Pow Wow and group Annual General Meetings.

Jun. 2009 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program, Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI, Native Council of Prince Edward Island, PEI Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development,Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Project team: Peter Warris (Research and Development co-ordinator for PEI Aquaculture Alliance)
Contact: Peter Warris ( •

Developing Camelina as the next Canadian oilseed

Feed is a major factor in overall profitability for aquaculture producers, making up 50-70% of total production costs. In particular, fish meal and oil, used for many carnivorous species, have fluctuating availability and prices.

Plant breeders and plant genomics specialists are working with fish nutritionists and fish functional genomics specialists to improve and evaluate Camelina tailored to meet the nutritional needs of commercial aquaculture finfish species.

The $6.1-million Camelina project aims to address this issue through the development of diets for cod, salmon and trout that substitute Camelina for some of the fish meal and oil. Camelina is a member of the mustard family, with a well-balanced array of amino acids, making it a potentially viable replacement for fishmeal and other high protein feedstuffs. This hardy plant also has a desirable balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, meaning fish species that accumulate intermuscular fat, such as trout and salmon, will deposit these fatty acids in proportion to their dietary intake.

The project aims to deliver:

  • Improved lines of Camelina optimized for aquaculture feed applications.
  • Digestibility information on Camelina seed and byproducts for salmonids and cod.
  • The identification of salmon, trout, and cod gene expression biomarkers of responses to Camelina-based diets using functional genomic techniques.
  • An assessment of the impact of Camelina-based diets on growth and biological processes.

May 2009 – Dec. 2014 • Funded by: Genome Atlantic, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency – Atlantic Innovation Fund (ACOA-AIF), Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Memorial University of Newfoundland-Ocean Sciences Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Minas Seed Co-operators, Atlantic Oilseeds Ltd., Colorado State University, University of Giessen, Linnaeus Plant Sciences Ltd., Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Saskatchewan Canola Development Council, Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, Research Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Western Economic Partnership Agreement – Western Economic Diversification Canada
Project team: Claude Caldwell (Nova Scotia Agricultural College), Isobel Parkin (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Derek Anderson (Nova Scotia Agricultural College), Dwayne Hegedus (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Chris Parrish (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Matthew Rise (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Cara Kirkpatrick, Camelina (Genome Atlantic), Genome Atlantic, Agriculture and Agri Food Canada Saskatoon Research Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Ocean Sciences Centre, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, University of Saskatchewan, Minas Seed Co-operators, Atlantic Oilseeds Ltd., Linnaeus Plant Sciences Ltd., Colorado State University (USA), University of Giessen (Germany), National Research Council Plant Biotechnology Institute
Contact: Claude Caldwell ( •

Camelina in fields

Innovative sustainable solutions for Canadian finfish aquaculture operations

This AIMAP project allowed the first ever complete integration of the advanced AEG Feeder and AEG Containment Systems while including fish on a commercial, very high-energy, grow-out site in St. Mary's Bay, NS. Smolt availability prevented full stocking of the site as originally planned but a lower number of smolt were entered to allow monitoring of fish welfare with the equipment. Further technology development occurred during this Phase I project, including proof-of-concept of a submersible HDPE collar that saved the equipment/fish from ruin in February 2009 when heavy ice passed through the site and integration of the AquaSonar fish sizing technology with the AEG Feeder to measure fish size on a regular basis. AEG continues to develop logistics mitigation strategies that increase farm safety, fish welfare, and cost-effectiveness. A primary example of this from Phase I involves the new AEG nursery net system that effectively concentrates small smolts for better fish and feed management during the early days following sea cage entry while increasing survival by providing a more protected environment even in the open ocean. Completed activities in Phase I will continue to be monitored during Phase II as these technologies support our activities to raise fish on this established high-energy site in the Bay of Fundy. Value engineering, environmental and economic evaluation, AEG Solutions demonstration, and new product development, as necessary, will continue and be the focus of Phase II activities.

Oct. 2008 – Mar. 2010 • Funded by: DFO - Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program, AEG, NSDFA, ACOA, NRC-IRAP
Project team: Chris Bridger (AEG), Phillip Dobson (AEG), Wade Landry (AEG), Dave Hoar (Motion Design)
Contact: Chris Bridger (

Skills development for sustainable aquaculture and fish preservation – education for employment program – Mozambique

The Mozambican government has embarked upon an ambitious project to professionalize its workforce in key primary resource sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry and others. Both fisheries and aquaculture are key development priorities for the people of Mozambique. The overall goal is to alleviate poverty while contributing to gender equity, improved access to education and health in the country. The Marine Institute, in partnership with the Mozambican national agriculture school (Instituto Agrario de Mocuba) and the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick in Caraquet, is assisting with the development of competency-based educational programs in aquaculture and fish preservation in Mozambique focusing on the applied technology and entrepreneurship aspects. This will enable the sector from the small farm-owner/operator level to large intensive marine shrimp farmers to avail of a highly qualified, nationally certified workforce. The group is working in collaboration with the Centro de Formaçao Profissionnal de Quelimane, Mozambique, to develop short, community-based training programs in fish culture and preservation so that training can be delivered at the farm level. The project is in its second year and curriculum development and validation as well as professor training is ongoing. New collaborations have been developed with the University Eduardo Mondlane's aquaculture program and faculty, as well as with the Directorate of Aquaculture in the Mozambique Department of Fisheries. One of the unanticipated outcomes of the project so far has been increased collaborations in the training of highly qualified personnel for the national university in Mozambique, as well as in the initiation of technology transfer efforts with the country's commercial aquaculture sector.

Oct. 2009 – Jun. 2012 • Funded by: Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Marine Institute of Memorial University, Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick à Caraquet, Government of Mozambique Aquaculture Directorate and Department of Education
Project team: Cyr Couturier, Hilario Canga, Joao Ubisse, Glen Penney, Luc Thériault, Antonio Hoguane (University Eduardo Mondlane), Isabel Omar (Director Mozambique Fisheries Department, Aquaculture Division, Maputo)
Contact: Cyr Couturier ( •

Educational team in Mozambique
Local fish seller in Mozambique
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