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New Dal IRC In Sustainable Aquaculture

New Dal Industrial Research Chair in sustainable aquaculture most substantial in Canada

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Dalhousie University and Cooke Aquaculture have partnered to create the new Cooke Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Sustainable Aquaculture. The new IRC is a five-year renewable program that will be led by Oceanographer Dr. Jon Grant. Funding for the Chair position and associated research is provided by NSERC, Dalhousie University and Cooke Aquaculture.

Key Points:

This announcement reflects the most substantial industry-university-government partnership undertaken in Canada with respect to aquaculture and the environment. Previous industry involvement in aquaculture research has not featured such a close industry-university collaboration.

Concerns about disease and waste management as well as interaction with commercial fisheries have led to controversy among many stakeholders including the aquaculture industry, government regulators, and coastal communities. There are however many avenues of environmental improvement feasible for ocean culture of salmon in net pens. This IRC will focus on: Simulation modelling for maintaining coastal ecosystem services; integrity of cages and moorings for biosecurity; waste management plans for environmental integrity; assessment of sediment habitat health; prevention of disease and management of fish health; and marine spatial planning of aquaculture and wild fisheries. The NSERC IRC Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture at Dalhousie University will provide a world-class platform for the ecosystem based research and expertise that is required to grow a sustainable aquaculture sector in Nova Scotia. NSERC’s Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) program is 5-year program intended to assist universities in building on existing science and research strengths that are of interest to industry; and provide an enhanced training environment for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Cooke Aquaculture will contribute $160,000 annually for 5 years, totaling $800,000 to match the NSERC contribution. Cooke will also contribute in-kind resources, most specifically boat and diver costs toward the project. Cooke will not only provide funding support for the IRC program, it will provide employment opportunities in the short term (co-op, summer) and in the longer term for graduates as they complete their research programs.

Students and postdoctoral fellows will work with research challenges unique to the aquaculture industry and have the opportunity for ongoing access to the industrial partner for continued research.

Dalhousie’s capacity for aquaculture training of students will increase significantly as a result of this IRC. This will lead to a trained workforce for the aquaculture industry, and a new chapter in the practice of environmentally conscious fish farming.