Aquaculture thrives

By Sonia B. Glover

Aquaculture research and development efforts at Memorial are being strengthened with a recent injection of $4.5 million into the province's aquaculture sector by the federal and provincial governments.

The aquaculture funding was announced Nov. 14, at the university's Marine Institute, by Premier Brian Tobin and Veterans Affairs Minister Fred Mifflin, who is also the secretary of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The funding includes $2.6 million for the construction of an aquaculture research facility at the Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) in Logy Bay and $520,000 for an aquaculture teaching facility at the Marine Institute. The Newfoundland Salmonid Growers Association also received $1.4 million for an aquaculture resource centre to be built in St. Alban's.

Memorial President Dr. Arthur May said the funding for new facilities will allow Memorial's researchers and students to work more extensively on aquaculture development in a state-of-the-art environment, instead of the less than ideal working conditions of the past.

"We feel that the new facility at Logy Bay will be the largest and most modern of its kind in the country today and will provide industry with skilled personnel, as well as enabling our faculty, students and staff to address commercially relevant problems - on at least a pilot commercial scale," he said.

The funding is a huge step forward for the province's aquaculture industry, added Dr. May, pointing out that Memorial has been involved in aquaculture research and development since the early '70s.

"Research at the Ocean Sciences Centre has resulted in a large number of initiatives which have already contributed to the development of the industry in our province," he said. "Some examples of these are the design and early operation of the hatchery at Bay d'Espoir, the development of technology that led to the establishment of a scallop production facility at Belleoram, and research from new or emerging aquaculture opportunities such as halibut, yellowtail, witch flounder and Atlantic cod.

"Most recently, the Ocean Sciences Centre has been involved in the transferring of Norwegian halibut aquaculture technology."

Memorial's vice-president (research), Dr. Kevin Keough, said the state-of- the-art facilities that will be made available through this funding will greatly enhance the university's ability to do research fundamental to the growth of the aquaculture industry.

"They will enable our researchers to attract substantially more funding from other sources, national and internationally, for research and development in this area," he said. "These facilities will provide a unique opportunity for matching the best of science with the needs of the growing industry."

The new aquaculture facility at the OSC will assist research and development efforts and subsequent commercialization of finfish species. The teaching facility at the Marine Institute will ensure the completion of a Phase II facility, which will produce fish husbandry systems to support education and training, with capabilities for industrial assistance and research.

Mr. Mifflin said government is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to diversify the province's economic base and to bring together government, educational institutions and the private sector to initiate growth and make strategic investments in the economy.

"These three facilities demonstrate partnership at work," he said. "Each one will contribute to making aquaculture a significant part of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy well into the next millennium."

Premier Tobin noted that the facilities will go a long way in helping to deal with the educational, biological and technical constraints that have hampered growth of the province's aquaculture sector.

The facilities are being constructed through funding from the $100-million Canada/Newfoundland Agreement on Economic Renewal, $20 million of which is allotted for aquaculture development in the province.

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