Memorial University received more than $10.2 million in federal-provincial funding this month for research and projects contributing to a more sustainable fish and seafood sector in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Under the investment from the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF), more than $4.3 million went to the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER) for research on stock assessment models and sustainable fisheries; more than $1.3 million went to the Department of Ocean Sciences in the Faculty of Science to research solutions to sea lice in salmon aquaculture operations; and $4.5 million went to the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) for a suite of projects over the next three years.
Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Premier Dwight Ball and provincial Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne announced the AFF investments Dec. 5 at the Marine Institute (MI).
Fisheries research and assessment
Over the next five years, CFER will develop improved groundfish stock assessment models, evaluate the impact of ecosystem changes on the sustainability of important groundfish fisheries and fill key knowledge gaps to contribute to fisheries eco-certification.
Dr. Rob Shea, MI’s associate vice-president (academic, student affairs and research), says the investment means both levels of government are committed to the institute’s research.
“We are proud, in partnership with our government and industry partners, to help advance our fish and seafood industries and our growing oceans sector through our academic programs and through our research, community and industrial partnerships,” he said.
Tom Brown, director of CFER, also welcomes the support.
“We appreciate this significant investment from the Atlantic Fisheries Fund. It will enable CFER to contribute to the development of more sustainable fisheries and improve groundfish stock assessments through incorporation of spatial data collected from state-of-the-art fish tagging technologies and evaluating the impacts of climate change on fish ecosystems,” he said.
“It will also help us to continue building a network of science partnerships nationally and internationally and with key organizations such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada.”
The Department of Ocean Sciences is developing innovative and green solutions for the Atlantic salmon aquaculture sector.
“Cleaner fish, such as lumpfish, are being used as a more environmentally friendly way of reducing sea lice, and interest in using them is growing,” said Danny Boyce, facility and business manager, Department of Ocean Sciences.
“This project will allow us to continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of lumpfish in sea cages.”
Through its partnership with Cold Ocean Salmon, a subsidiary of Cooke Aquaculture Inc., the department is working with Cooke’s vice-president of research, Dr. Keng Pee Ang, to develop the largest, fully integrated demonstration trial in North America using cultured lumpfish to mitigate sea lice in salmon farms.
“This marks a step forward in the wider adaptation of cleaner fish for the Canadian aquaculture industry,” said Mr. Boyce.
Innovation and collaboration
CCFI will carry out a suite of projects related to innovation in aquaculture, fishing and fish processing.
The projects will focus on developing new opportunities, increasing the value obtained from fish resources and improving operational efficiency. It will carry out these projects through collaboration with industry partners, Memorial, MI and other academic institutions.
“We are very pleased to receive this support,” said Robert Verge, managing director, CCFI.
“It will allow us to continue making available to industry the people and facilities of academia to help industry meet the challenges of being internationally competitive and economically viable, especially now at a time when it is struggling with the effects of climate change and changing labour-force demographics.”
In total, the Atlantic Fisheries Fund will invest $400 million in Atlantic Canada over seven years to meet market demands for products that are high quality, value-added and sustainably sourced; $18 million of the AFF fund will support 65 projects throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
“This new funding means more innovation and jobs for communities right across Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Minister Wilkinson. “I am pleased that we are working with businesses and communities to grow our fisheries and ensure that they remain healthy for future generations.”
“The Atlantic Fisheries Fund is creating new opportunities for provincial producers of sustainably sourced, high-quality fish and seafood products,” said Premier Ball.
“This latest round of investments provides important financial support to harvesters, processors, aquaculture operations, academia and other stakeholders throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and reaffirms the federal government’s recognition of the important contribution the fishing and aquaculture industry plays in supporting and sustaining many rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Evolving fishing sector
Minister Byrne says the announcement sends a clear message to the province’s fishing sector.
“The sector in Newfoundland and Labrador is moving ahead and we are positioning the industry to respond to evolving and growing demands of consumers around the world,” he said.
“Enhancing the provincial fishing sector is a key component of our Way Forward strategy. We will continue to work with the federal government and industry stakeholders as we secure maximum benefits for the people and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador who rely on the fishery for their livelihood.”