The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) is taking a major step towards learning more about B.C’s coastal environment, particularly wild salmon. Today the Association is announcing that it will invest $1.5-million over the next five years, partnering with academics and independent science-based organizations to expand knowledge of B.C’s aquatic environment. The BCSFA expects to announce its initial collaborative project in the first quarter of 2015, and anticipates its seed funding to generate over $3-million in research projects by 2020.
This funding announcement follows the completion of a series of priority-setting workshops that included 50 participants from academia, independent research institutes, conservation organizations, government, and the aquaculture industry. With backgrounds in fish pathology, ecology, population dynamics, oceanography and genomics, these researchers will focus on five key research areas: fish pathogen transmission, salmon migration routes, environmental management, fish health reporting, and information sharing.
“The workshops have effectively moved the discussion from broad concepts to designing and implementing specific research projects,” said Dr. Don Noakes, Dean of Science at Vancouver Island University. “This research will improve our understanding of how wild and cultured salmon interact in the environment, with the goal of ensuring that future generations can enjoy the economic, social and cultural benefits that both wild and farm-raised salmon provide.”
“As active members of coastal communities, salmon farmers understand the importance of wild salmon to the economy and culture, and there is still much to learn about their life cycle in the ocean, their migration patterns and how they are adapting to our changing climate,” said Jeremy Dunn, executive director, BC Salmon Farmers Association. “We want to ensure that the best researchers are doing quality science and our Board of Directors is committed to ensuring that data is analyzed in an objective and transparent manner.”
The BCSFA is also announcing today that it is forming an external Science Advisory Council. The Council will advise on projects and make recommendations on BCSFA-led research over the next five years.
“I am absolutely delighted to learn of the research funding from BCSFA to address questions concerning wild and farmed salmon interaction,” said Tony Farrell, Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture at UBC Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research. “It is a timely and proactive move that is intended to increase public confidence in salmon farming.”
The final priority-setting workshop, which took place December 10 at Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station, was the fourth in a series initiated in 2013 to address the recommendations stemming from the Cohen Commission Final Report on the Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. Of the 75 recommendations made by Justice Cohen concerning actions to conserve Fraser River Sockeye salmon stocks, 13 were related to aquaculture.