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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 2 | Jan. 24, 2002

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 driven solutions."

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 products.

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.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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