Jeff Nickerson - NS Saltwater Production Manager Cooke, Michael Szemerda - VP Saltwater Operations Cooke, Dr. Chris Moore - Dean of Science Dalhousie University, Dr. Martha Crago – VP Research Dalhousie University, Dr. Jon Grant – NSERC Cooke Industrial Research Chair, Dr. Richard Isenor - Atlantic Manager NSERC, Nell Halse – VP Communications Cooke, Andrew Lively – Director Marketing Cooke, Ross Butler – Senior VP Cooke.
Cooke Aquaculture is partnering with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Dalhousie University and to create the new Cooke Industrial Research Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture.
The partnership is a five-year renewable program that will be led by Oceanographer Dr. Jon Grant. Funding for the Chair position and associated research is provided by NSERC, Dalhousie University and Cooke Aquaculture.
The arrangement is described as the most significant industry-university-government partnership for aquaculture in Canada.
The aquaculture industry has had its problems. Concerns about disease and waste management as well as its effects on commercial fisheries have led to controversy along coastal communities.
The research partnership aims to improve the industry.
This IRC will focus on: Simulation modeling for maintaining coastal ecosystem services; integrity of cages and moorings for biosecurity; waste management plans for environmental integrity; assessment of sediment habitat health; prevention of disease and management of fish health; and marine spatial planning of aquaculture and wild fisheries.
Proponents of the program say the NSERC IRC Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture at Dalhousie University will provide a “world-class” platform for the ecosystem based research and expertise that is required to grow a sustainable aquaculture sector in Nova Scotia.
NSERC’s Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) program is a five-year program to help universities build on existing science and research strengths of interest to industry; and enhance training for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Cooke Aquaculture will contribute $160,000 annually for five years, totaling $800,000 to match the NSERC contribution. Cooke will also contribute in-kind resources, specifically boat and diver costs toward the project. The company will also provide employment opportunities in the short term (co-op, summer) and in the longer term for graduates as they complete their research programs.
Dalhousie's capacity for aquaculture training of students will increase significantly as a result of this partnership. University and industry representatives say this will lead to a trained workforce for the aquaculture industry, and a new chapter in the practice of environmentally conscious fish farming.
"This partnership will add significant new capacity to research into sustainable aquaculture at Dalhousie University. Along with Professor Grant's expanded research program, next year there will be a new professor to provide additional research and training capacity. This growth will allow significantly more new research as well as additional training of the next generation of experts on sustainable aquaculture." – Dr. Chris Moore, Dean of Science, Dalhousie University.