Meet the future of Canada’s sustainable aquaculture industry

“We hail from across Canada’s thriving seafood farming sector…and we all share the same passion for advancing this incredibly dynamic and sustainable sector.” – RJ Taylor

By SeaWestNews

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) has unveiled its National Youth Council, to showcase the growing presence of young people in the sustainable future of farming the oceans.

The Council members convened their first face-to-face meeting at Canada’s Farmed Seafood Policy Conference 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario today.

“Seafood farming is a young and growing sector for Canada. We are delighted to be attracting top-caliber young people to create a strong and sustainable future. The diversity and strength of these young people is a testament to a bright future for our sector,” said CAIA Executive Director, Timothy Kennedy.

CAIA established this National Youth Council to connect young professionals in Canada’s aquaculture sector, to propose and develop ideas for the flourishing of the sector, and to be ambassadors for the sector.

“We have brought together a group of fourteen young people from across the country – seven women and seven men – to represent the growing presence of youth in this science, sustainability and future-oriented sector,” said Kennedy.

“Representing six provinces, they are excited and eager to share their knowledge and passion for seafood farming. We look forward to their ideas and energy.”

“We hail from across Canada’s thriving seafood farming sector: finfish to shellfish, land-based to net-pens, freshwater to marine, industry to research,” said RJ Taylor, inaugural Youth Council Chair.

“And we all share the same passion for advancing this incredibly dynamic and sustainable sector.”

Here are the inaugural members of CAIA’s National Youth Council;


RJ Taylor, Co‐owner –  Cedar Crest Trout Farms

RJ Taylor and his sister Arlen run Cedar Crest Trout Farms, a network of five trout hatcheries in Ontario that grows 5 million fingerlings each year. He is also the managing director for the Ontario Aquaculture Association, which represents the province’s thriving farmed seafood industry. Previously, he led science education projects at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the University of Toronto, and Dyson.


Kathleen Allen – Commercial Coordinator North America, Aquaculture Stewardship Council

Kathleen joined ASC in May 2018 as the North American Commercial Coordinator. Kathleen has a Master’s degree in Biology focusing on aquaculture nutrition from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. She has experience working with government and inter‐governmental organizations through her internships with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She has also worked with a private retailer as their sustainable seafood and animal welfare specialist and for an aquaponics start‐up.

Steven Bourne – CEO, Ripple Farms Inc.

Steven Bourne is an accomplished entrepreneur and environmentalist, continuously seeking to make a positive impact in our communities and beyond. Steven is the Co‐Founder to a Toronto born Social Enterprise ‐ dedicated to tackling food insecurity through its Vertical Farming operations with Aquaponics ‐ recently awarded Social Enterprise of the Year Award via Startup Canada.

Wesley Chase –  Agriculture Assistant, Alma Aquaculture Research Station, University of Guelph

My educational background is in Marine Biology. During undergrad I volunteered at the Alma Research Station where I discovered my passion for aquaculture! I have since worked in both research (Hagen Aqualab) and government (OMAFRA), before returning to the AARS where I can apply my practical, theoretical, and outreach skills.

Jill Court – Lead Hatchery Technician, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd

My name is Jill and I’m from a small town on the East Coast. I received my BSc. (Agriculture) with a Major in Aquaculture from Dalhousie University. I currently work in an Atlantic salmon hatchery. Every day presents a new challenge and I feel that’s what I love most about aquaculture.

Megan Kanasawe – Manager, Buzwah Fisheries 

My name is Megan Kanasawe, and I am a graduate of the Aquaculture program at Fleming College. I have been working for Buzwah Fisheries for over nine years. I am so excited to share my ideas and hopes with the CAIA National Youth Council in order to better educate and engage young Canadians to help our industry flourish.

Tristan Lamonica – Junior Data Scientist / Teaching Assistant / Research Assistant, Parliament of Canada (Liberal Research  Bureau) / University of Ottawa

Tristan Lamonica is a master’s student in communication at the University of Ottawa with a thesis focused on artificial intelligence (AI). He has a background in data science, analytics, and content analysis through his employment at the Parliament of Canada. He has also worked as a teaching assistant, social media manager, and research assistant, and served in an advisory role for blockchain enabled AI startups with a specialization in farm‐to‐table food traceability.

Liam O’Leary – Aquaculture Resource Analyst, Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association

My name is Liam O’Leary and I am from Newfoundland and Labrador. I am in my fourth year at St. Francis of Xavier University and I am taking an advanced joint major program in Aquatic Resources and Economics. I worked at Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association this summer and I am very excited to be part of this youth council.

Kenny Leslie – Fry/First Feeding Supervisor, Big Tree Creek, Marine Harvest Canada

Kenny has a BA in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Dundee, and has been in the aquaculture sector in BC for 3 years. He has written a few articles for SeaWestNews ‐ a BC-based aquaculture news site. Kenny has worked on both flow through and now, most recently modern RAS systems growing healthy and happy fry for Marine Harvest at their Big Tree Creek facility.

Angelique Pichette – Hatchery Technician, Grieg Seafood – Marine biologist, ocean enthusiast, hatchery worker. 

In 2010 I completed my BSc. in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Guelph. During my studies I became interested in Aquaculture as a means to help save the oceans by alleviating pressure on wild fish stocks. I then completed my MSc in Aquaculture Nutrition at James Cook University where I studied the nutritional requirements in Redclaw Crayfish for the North Queensland developing Redclaw Crayfish aquaculture industry. I have since worked at a grow‐out farm and hatchery in Saskatchewan and am currently employed with Grieg Seafood as the Lead Hand of the Gold River Hatchery. I am excited to be a part of an industry that aims to provide ethical and sustainable seafood to the world.

John Relyea‐Voss – Saltwater Technician, Brent Island, Cermaq Canada

John started working for Cermaq in November 2017. From Ontario, John travelled to BC in order to work within the BC Aquaculture Industry. John’s passion for Salmon Farming provides him the ability to be in the outdoors, continually learn about aquaculture and support aquaculture in his local community of Campbell River.

Brad Rempel – Farm Technician, Marine Harvest

I’ve been a part of the Aquaculture industry for a total of 6 years, starting at a small processing plant on Quadra Island just off Vancouver Island. I started on the processing line where it was all done by hand. I quickly moved my way through the plant completing many different tasks and settled onto the docks offloading the harvest boats & harvesting on the boats. I had left to work in Alberta for 2 ½ years. After I moved back to Vancouver Island in 2015 I had sought out a position in aquaculture.  I was inspired and very ecstatic to be a part of Marine Harvest Canada as a farm tech based out of the Broughton Archipelago. I became a level 4 technician after 2 ½ years and experienced many different challenges and environmental conditions throughout my career. I love knowing we’re doing our best to raise a healthy & sustainable fish to feed millions of people across the globe & helping clean the environment. My interest in joining the Youth Council was being able to be a voice for my generation of upcoming farmers and further my own understanding of the industry.

Emily Warren – M.Sc. Student, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

My name is Emily and I am currently living on Vancouver Island and completing a M.Sc. I am researching different diets (natural and prepared) on gonad enhancement and faecal production in the green and red sea urchin. Our goal is making sea urchin aquaculture a sustainable new industry in BC.

Jenny Weitzman – PhD Student, Dalhousie University

Jenny Weitzman is an interdisciplinary PhD student at Dalhousie University. Her research operates at the intersection of science and policy where she studies the tools and strategies for holistic decision‐making for aquaculture. Through her work, Jenny hopes to support sustainable development and advance the pathways towards an ecosystem approach to aquaculture.

Gillian Tobin-Huxley
Warehouse Market Coordinator- Afishionado Fishmongers

Gillian is a shellfish aquaculture enthusiast and experienced oyster hatchery technician. She holds a degree in Marine Biology from Dalhousie University and has been involved in industry-relevant research from coast-to-coast. Through her involvement with the Youth Council, Gillian hopes to develop and actualize provincial and country-wide mentorship programs that connect passionate entrants in the industry to active lease holders.


A love for real science and real experiences underlines Kenny Leslie’s advocacy for salmon farming

Cermaq helps First Nations students pursue bright futures

First Nations communities benefit from aquaculture