Memorial University is getting a major boost from the federal and provincial governments to research ways to protect farmed salmon from disease.
St. John’s East MP Nick Whalen and Industry and Innovation Minister Chris Mitchelmore were on hand at the Ocean Sciences Centre in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove this morning for the announcement.
Nearly $3.5-million will go to MUN’s Ocean Sciences Department to research ways to protect aquaculture salmon populations from disease. Close to $3-million will come from Ottawa while $500,000 will be given by the province.
Lead researcher Kurt Gamperl says it’s important to address challenges the aquaculture industry faces as it continues to grow throughout the province.
He says the health and welfare of the salmon is a priority because as ocean temperatures rise it’s causing problems physiology and exposure to disease and this project will help shed light on how environmental conditions impact the ability for fish to fight off those diseases.
Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of open pen salmon farming including a Supreme Court ruling in July ordering Grieg Aquaculture to undergo a comprehensive environmental assessment after then Environment Minister Perry Trimper exempted the company from having to do so.
Executive Director with the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, Mark Lane, says despite a highly publicized opposition to aquaculture in the province people need to realize it’s an industry that’s growing and one that is needed across the globe.
He says the global population is going to reach 9-billion in our lifetime, while wild fish stocks are declining. Therefore, sea farming is the only option to ensure people have a healthy source of protein.
Lane says Newfoundland and Labrador has the resources to play a major role on the world stage when it comes to developing an aquaculture industry and should be finding ways to embrace it.