The International Aquaculture Innovation Centre (IAIC) is a department at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre. The Huntsman's IAIC mandate is to find solutions to challenges for the sustainable development of the aquaculture sector. The local area's economy is directly linked to the opportunities provided to those generating wealth from ocean resources. As traditional fisheries have declined, development efforts have focused on finding meaningful alternate economic drivers.
The IAIC is a multifaceted department collaborating with the industrial sector, university and/or government research scientists; conducting proprietary research for industry and private companies; and/or renting space for various research projects in which the IAIC is not directly involved.
The IAIC in partnership with Admiral Fish Farms Ltd., Gray Aqua Farms Ltd., Northern Harvest Sea Farms Ltd., University of Guelph, Department of Fisheries and Oceans St. Andrews Biological Station, and Research and Productivity Council are developing an enhanced Atlantic salmon broodstock through selective breeding. The Atlantic Salmon Selection and Broodstock Development Program is working to produce salmon with faster growth, resistance to sea lice, resistance to bacterial kidney disease (BKD), and improved production traits such as fillet yield and quality. This is a five year project concluding in 2015. The project is co-located in facilities in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Funding for this project is being provided by project partners, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Atlantic Innovation Fund and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation Research Innovation Fund.
The IAIC is also conducting proprietary research for various purposes.
Breviro Caviar is renting space to research and grow sturgeon using their own staff. In 2011, Breviro Caviar conducted experiments to determine the feasibility of transporting large sturgeon (1-3kg average weight) at high densities between a hatchery site in Spain and a new recirculation facility in the United Arab Emirates. Results indicated that sturgeon of this size, maintained in controlled environments, suffered no negative impacts during a simulated 15 day transport period. Breviro Caviar now produces sturgeon caviar and meat products for the Canadian, European and Hong Kong markets.
Dr. Ed Trippel (Department of Fisheries and Oceans St. Andrews Biological Station) is leading a research project looking at the effects of ocean acidification on early life stages of Atlantic cod by rearing embryos and larvae at four different levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in sea water (pH levels). Gregor Steffen, under the co-supervision of Dr. Catriona Clemmesen, Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Kiel, Germany is the student working with Dr. Trippel on this project.
Cooke Aquaculture Inc./Kelly Cove Salmon is working on green solutions for the removal of sea lice by researching the use of a locally available cleaner fish called cunner, Tautogolabrus adspersus. Cunners are an omnivorous fish that can be found from Newfoundland to New Jersey, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Mary's Bay, Grand Manan and the Gulf of Maine. In 2010, with the help of Evergreen Fisheries Inc. of Digby, NS, and a scientific licence/permit from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Cooke Aquaculture was able to conduct extensive trials at the Huntsman, which proved that cunners readily consumed sea lice and were very effective at removing them from salmon, much like the five species of wrasse being used in Norway today as an effective, chemical-free method of controlling sea lice on salmon farms. In August 2011, Cooke Aquaculture was able to successfully spawn cunner broodstock and bring over 25,000 cunner larvae to first feeding and live feed stages. To complete this research, Cooke Aquaculture Inc. is using the Biocentre, which was designed as a cod hatchery and includes two tank fields, an incubation room and a room to produce live feed. Huntsman IAIC has provided technical support toward live feed production and systems maintenance. Cooke/KCS also have a team of research technicians working on the development of 'cunner' technology. Upcoming trials include a cunner feed preference study that is partially funded by the Department of Fisheries and Ocean's AIMAP program. The cunner project contact is Dr. Keng Pee Ang, VP Research.
The research team at Northeast Nutrition continues to focus on the improvement of the feeds used by Cooke Aquaculture. This involves the investigation of potential new ingredients and the revision of feed specifications and formulae. The studies must always consider the quality, sustainability and cost per kilogram of the final fish products produced by the company. Future requirements and restrictions in the feed recipes are anticipated as much as possible in order to provide the most flexibility and cost effectiveness for future production rations. In 2011, Northeast Nutrition research consisted of a variety of feed research areas, including: use of corn product with reduced yellow pigmentation to allow more flexibility in adapting the ingredients used in their salmon feeds and Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) kelp as a feed additive.
The Huntsman continues to support the development of a sustainable marine economy through its IAIC.