UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 2 | Jan.
New centre to support aquaculture stewardship
Research to foster sustainable and healthy industry in province
With more than 25,000 kilometers of coastline and an increasing
global demand for fish products, Scott McKinley thinks British Columbia's
aquaculture industry should be humming.
But it isn't -- yet -- says the director of UBC's new Centre for
Aquaculture and the Environment, set to launch officially today.
"This industry is one that can bring wealth to the province and
create jobs," McKinley says. "UBC recognizes the need to support
it with scientific research. At the same time, B.C. is unique and
the debate over aquaculture's effects on the environment is particularly
strong here. We need to address B.C.-specific issues and find provincially
The centre is the first of its kind on the West Coast and will
be part of the national Network of Centres of Excellence -- Aqua
Net. Its goal is to provide and encourage independent research to
support the stewardship of aquatic resources while fostering a fully
sustainable and healthy industry for B.C.'s farmed fish and shellfish
With this in mind, the centre's work will focus on five key research
themes identified in consultation with industry associations, non-governmental
organizations, and First Nations and non-First Nations fishing communities.
They are: coastal planning and management; environmental interactions;
monitoring and operation technologies; socio/economic interests;
and animal production.
Topics slated for study include fish farm pollution, the interaction
of wild and escaped farmed fish, fish diseases, the development
of "early warning" monitoring technologies to detect changes in
animal well-being, and the integration of First Nations and local
community concerns into the selection of aquaculture sites.
McKinley, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Aquaculture and
the Environment, says those involved in creating the centre are
fully aware of the differing views held by pro- and anti-fish farming
groups on whether aquaculture should be allowed to expand and how.
"We see the centre providing objective scientific findings on
these issues and acting as an honest broker for industry research
and development," McKinley explains, adding that the approach has
proven successful in countries with thriving aquaculture businesses
such as Norway and Chile.
Backed by strong support from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences,
the centre will be a research base for UBC faculty and students
from various disciplines as well as researchers from other Canadian
and international institutions.
Other key research partners include the Dept. of Fisheries and
Oceans, the Science Council of B.C., the provincial government,
and provincial salmon growers and shellfish growers' associations.