Vancouver Island University

New lab, Indigenous program to build B.C’s fisheries future

Traditional knowledge and a new lab at Vancouver Island University will help boost economic, social and spiritual well-being of coastal communities.

By SeaWestNews

The new Centre for Innovation in Fish Health on Vancouver Island plans to support the next generation of scientists who will ensure B.C.’s fisheries are healthy for the long term.

The new laboratory at Vancouver Island University (VIU) also aims to tackle climate change issues which are threatening the sustainability of coastal communities that depend socially and economically on fisheries.

The lab is being developed to meet the federal regulations of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for Aquatic Animal Pathogen Level 2.

This level of biosecurity can accommodate research into a broad range of diseases relevant to fish in B.C. while maintaining high standards of safety, the B.C. government said.

“The new Centre for Innovation in Fish Health at VIU is going to help make sure our fisheries are viable and prosperous for generations to come,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

“Our coastal communities depend on healthy fish stocks for their economic, social and spiritual well-being. For too long, the necessary investments and protections required to ensure the long-term viability of this precious resource have been neglected.”

An investment of $215,000 from the Province is funding equipment and renovations, helping to kick-start a strategic partnership between Indigenous communities, industry, not-for-profits, government and the educational sector.

Researchers studying shellfish. Image: Government of British Columbia

“Technology, innovation and research play a key role in the sustainability of our food supply, including fisheries. To help maintain the well-being of this valued food source, we’re supporting the next generation of scientists who will ensure B.C.’s fisheries are healthy for the long term,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-Cowichan North.

“So many communities here on Vancouver Island, and up and down the B.C. coast, depend on the health of our fish stocks, so I’m proud to have this new research facility right here in Nanaimo,” said Ralph Nilson, president of Vancouver Island University.

“We’re going to train the next generation of scientists and keep B.C. coasts healthy and prosperous,” he said.

Meanwhile, VIU has also announced a $50,000 grant for the We Will Survive if the Salmon Survive program to the university’s Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies Professor, Dr. Georgina Martin (image courtesy of VIU).

“The preservation of the salmon is essential for the Secwepemc (Shuswap) peoples’ food sustenance and traditional practices,” said Dr. Martin.

“Without the development of future stewards, both the salmon and the Secwepemc culture are threatened. Our language is nearing extinction.”

The intent of the project is to investigate the concept and creation of a Secwepemc youth program to demonstrate the importance of protecting the Fraser River and the salmon.

“It’s bringing youth and Elders together,” said Dr. Martin.

“It is a long term plan where the youth will connect with the wisdom holders or the knowledge keepers in the community, who will impart to the youth the cultural practices and traditional knowledge of five Secwepemc communities.”


First Nations crucial in Canada’s new approach to aquaculture

A new era for salmon farming in British Columbia

Paving the way for First Nations aquaculture prosperity