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Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2013


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:

  • Safe and Accessible Waterways;
  • Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems; and
  • Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture.

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.

DFO enables research pertaining to aquaculture in Canada through the implementation of research funding programs. These programs vary in their mandates, resulting in a comprehensive strategy for funding scientific research, development or pre-commercialization, whether the research team be made up of researchers internal or external to the department, as well as differences in their funding envelopes and project timeframes.

The following four DFO programs are currently funding Canadian aquaculture research and development:

Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR)

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

Since its inception in 2008 as part of the New Aquaculture Program initiative (now the Sustainable Aquaculture Program), PARR has evolved to target research priorities in consultation with aquaculture regulators and managers that have specifically addressed their regulatory needs. Since 2010, national and regional regulatory priorities have focused research in areas such as: benthic habitat impacts from shellfish culture and marine and freshwater finfish aquaculture to support siting decisions; fish health management through increased understanding of the fate and effects of sea lice treatments on non-target organisms; research on sea lice/farmed/wild salmon interactions to improve sea lice management on farms and mitigate potential impacts on wild salmon populations; shellfish bay-scale carrying capacity; and impacts of shellfish culture on marine vegetation.

Since 2010, PARR has approved and funded over 40 targeted projects for a total value over $5M.

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
  • Industry environmental performance

Since the program’s inception in 2001, over 330 projects have been approved and funded.

Over the last five years, DFO has invested over $25 M into research collaborations for the ACRDP.

For more information, please visit the ACRDP website.

Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP)

In 2008 the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a new contribution program to bolster the development, early commercialization and/or early adoption of innovative techniques for the Canadian aquaculture sector. In the five years of the program, $23.5 million was made available for innovation and market access projects with an additional $100 million being leveraged from industry and other funding partners.

The goal of AIMAP is to catalyze aquaculture industry investment from the private sector, as well as other sectors, that will: 1) Improve the competitiveness of a sustainable Canadian aquaculture industry by encouraging an aquaculture sector that continuously develops and adopts innovative technologies and management techniques to enhance its global competitiveness and environmental performance; and 2) Position Canadian aquaculture products as having high value in the market place based on their environmental performance, traceability, and other considerations.

Since 2008, 164 projects have been funded through AIMAP under the following priorities:
1) Sustainable production; 2) Green technology; and 3) Species diversification.

AIMAP focuses on funding projects at the pre-commercialization stage of the research and development continuum.

For more information, please visit the AIMAP website at:

Genomics Research & 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 determine accurately 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, contact: Mark Hovorka (, or visit

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

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec – MAPAQ) and Merinov

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

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
  • research teams from UQAR

Merinov provides innovation to 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.

NSERC investments in aquaculture

Fuelled by the federal government’s commitment to address the innovation needs of fisheries and related industries, investments in aquaculture research by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and its partners in industry and government are building a strong industry.

NSERC support to research and innovation in aquaculture

NSERC invested over $4.3 million in 2011-12, towards collaborative aquaculture research partnerships. Funding for Canadian universities and colleges to undertake collaborative R&D with the aquaculture industry is available through a variety of established and new NSERC grants. These were created to help connect researchers with industry in order to meet the innovation needs of the aquaculture sector, and to train the next generation of researchers, both for university and private sector research.

By connecting researchers to Canadian companies, NSERC is helping to spur innovation. Close to 1700 new partnerships have been formed 1between university researchers and Canadian companies with the help of NSERC’s Engage Grant Program (EGP). This program provides grants of up to $25,000 to have researchers work for six months on solving company-specific technological challenges. This type of arrangement can also help build a foundation for longer-term research relationships.

Engage Grants are one initiative under NSERC’s Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation (SPI). This industry-driven Strategy seeks to facilitate collaborative research between academia and industry and has resulted in the following changes at NSERC since 2009:

  • Structured business development events supported at the regional level by NSERC’s five regional offices (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and Pacific), who offer introductions and assistance to researchers and companies looking to work together successfully.
  • Grant support for project management within NSERC’s partnership grants;
  • Support for market studies to assist in commercializing promising inventions and to inform research directions within targeted NSERC grants; and
  • Changes to NSERC’s intellectual property policy to expand arrangement options between industry and post-secondary institutions, including assignment of IP rights to industry partners.

In addition, NSERC has widened the range of funding opportunities for businesses that want to tap into expertise in Canada’s community colleges and CÉGEPs. New grants are available for colleges to build a technology access centre to help companies access a college’s expertise and facilities; work with a university partner to commercialise technologies; or have college experts undertake short-term work to address company-specific R&D challenges.

NSERC’s suite of longer-term granting options remains a powerful tool for projects with multiple industrial partners and longer time frames: Collaborative Research and Development Grants, Industrial Research Chairs and strategic programs continue to receive strong applications and see positive results.

NSERC: Open for Research and Open for Business

Over the last three years, new flexible options, combined with NSERC’s flagship suite of grants, have helped more companies than ever before work with researchers to leverage their R&D dollar. Today over 2,400 companies are working through NSERC to establish critical research relationships, develop new and enhanced products and services, and discover new business opportunities.

To learn more about how NSERC can help you, visit (, or contact the Research Partnerships team at 1-877-454-1767 or by email at:

NRC IRAP enables small- and medium-sized aquaculture businesses succeed through innovation

Delivered by a network of over 210 professionals located in more than 100 communities 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.

The Program provides a suite of 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.

In 2011, NRC IRAP was selected to run the three-year Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP) as part of the Government of Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy. DTAPP represents a significant investment into the Canadian economy in an effort to increase the productivity growth of SMEs in Canada across all sectors through the adoption of digital technologies.

Since April 1, 2011, NRC IRAP has provided approximately $2.5M 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 program assistance provided to the aquaculture sector during this period:

NRC IRAP supported Red Hat Co-operative on the development of a framework to quantify growing and operating conditions and objectively assess the impact of using the effluents from an aquaculture facility to enable themselves and other aquaponic growers to better analyze their system efficiencies and economics. Assessment of the aquaponics system must consider the related inputs such as nutrients, water, utility, waste-management and labour costs. The framework will facilitate the development of water and energy balance information and benchmarking parameters will help determine the net benefit of combining aquaculture with hydroponics. For more information contact K. B. Takeda (

Microthalassia Consulting Inc. received NRC IRAP assistance to develop and enhance a harmful algae monitoring program (HAMP) on the British Columbia Coast. This project allowed their president to hire and train a highly skilled technician in the methodologies for identification of harmful marine microalgae. They also looked at new services and products that the firm could commercialize in the near future to support to BC’s aquaculture industries. The firm has now initiated an ACRDP project with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to further develop their HAMP. For further information please contact Nicky Haigh ( For more information on the program and to contact your local NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, visit:

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, over the last 10 years, ACOA has made AIF contributions towards the following R&D aquaculture projects:

Aquaculture R&D Projects related to fish

  • Genome Atlantic (Pan Atlantic): Atlantic Cod genomics and broodstock development to enhance the commercialization of the cod aquaculture industry.
  • University of New Brunswick (NB): Integrated 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
  • Novartis Animal Health Canada (PEI): Platform development and DNA vaccine for koi herpes virus
  • Université de Moncton (NB) : Broodstock research and development related to high pedigreed Arctic Charr to enhance commercialization opportunities
  • Scotian Halibut Limited (NS): Develop certified Halibut broodstock to enhance commercialization opportunities
  • Huntsman Marine Science Centre (NB): Develop an Atlantic Salmon brood stock facility to enhance commercialization opportunities
  • Research Productivity Council (NB): Develop a new fish pathogen diagnostic tool for the aquaculture industry
  • Memorial University (NL): Support for Atlantic Cod broodstock development and fish health management protocols to enhance commercialization opportunities for the aquaculture industry.
  • Atlantic Veterinary College (PEI): Create a Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences to support the regions aquaculture industry
  • Genome Atlantic (PEI): Development of Camelina as a feed supplement for the aquaculture industry
  • Aqua Bounty Canada Inc. and Aqua Bounty Farms Inc. (PEI): Generate technology to produce reproductively sterile Atlantic Salmon
  • Atlantech Engineering & Associates Incorporated (PEI): Advancing water recirculation and effluent treatment technology for the land-based aquaculture industry
  • Solarvest (PEI) Inc.: Microalgae oils for salmon feed nutraceutical application
  • Cooke Aquaculture Inc. (NB): Development and implementation of aquaculture stock traceability
  • Novartis Animal Health Canada Inc. (PEI): Mitigation of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) by vaccination and genetic selection
  • 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): Cultivate seaweed biomass for human food and biomass for active compounds for use in various sectors (e.g., agriculture, nutrition)

For information contact: AIF and BDP, please consult:

Ressources Aquatiques Québec (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.

Information: Céline Audet, PhD, Scientific Director (

Web site:

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