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Aquaculture Research Facility Opening In Souris, PEI

n 2008, Souris-resident Courtney MacInnis had a young daughter to support and an unfulfilling future as a waitress.

Aspiring to meaningful employment with regular hours and benefits, she listened to her grandmother and enrolled in Holland College’s Bioscience Technology program. A 2010 graduate, MacInnis found a new future as a research associate with the Center for Aquaculture Technologies Canada (CATC) and a career path leading home to Souris.

CATC is launching a 21,000-square-foot operation in a facility once housing Ocean Choice International, now owned by Souris Harbour Authority. With a September 2015 opening, this renovation will provide key resources advancing technologies that improve aquaculture productivity.

Debbie Plouffe, vice president of research, oversees the Souris facility.

“It’s a good repurpose of an existing structure. We worked with the community and the harbour authority, plus completed a third-party environmental-impact assessment. We want to create a one-stop shop for aquaculture research here in Souris. There are European competitors, but no other purpose-built private facility in North America.”

Studying fish health and water conditions with high-quality data sets regulators can easily audit is a distinct advantage when developing new products for fish health and nutrition.

“Utilizing Canadian resources and expertise, there’s a huge market opportunity for innovative products and producing more fish globally,” said Plouffe. “Aquaculture will be crucial to feeding the world’s nine billion people by 2050.”

Plouffe is a molecular and cell biologist who left Alberta for a new life in P.E.I. The CATC team includes scientists Rachid Ganga and Tiago Hori from Morocco and Brazil; Souris native and research associate Alex Peters; Holland College graduate Matthew Bryenton; and UPEI graduate Angela MacDonald.

With the Souris expansion, 10 additional staff will be hired over the next two years.

“You might not know what you want until you experience it,” says Courtney MacInnis, now raising her family in Souris. “We want to expose students to possibilities and opportunities others have. They can enjoy work and do something they love, without moving away from home.”

Margaret Magner, Ph.D., is a freelance journalist in Charlottetown (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on P.E.I.’s bioscience sector.


Need to know

The Center for Aquaculture Technologies (CAT), established in 2012, uses advanced technologies to improve aquaculture productivity. It maintains research operations in San Diego, California, and Prince Edward Island.