Cooke Aquaculture is an international seafood production company headquartered in New Brunswick. In 2014, NSERC and the company established the Cooke Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Sustainable Aquaculture and awarded it to Dr. Jon Grant in Dalhousie’s Department of Oceanography. The overarching goal of the IRC program was to develop models, tools and metrics that could help Cooke and government regulators make evidence-based decisions about aquaculture management. To do this, Dr. Grant’s team looked at various aquaculture-environment interactions to pursue an ecosystem approach to aquaculture management that also takes marine spatial planning into account. They studied sediments and the water column inside fish farming pens, for example, to assess habitat health as well as providing a framework to infer fish health based on associated epidemiological studies.
The IRC program led to further research collaborations to expand on Dr. Grant’s findings. One such case was a partnership between Dr. Grant’s team, Cooke, Innovasea (formerly Vemco), and the Ocean Frontier Institute. This collaboration focused on the application of sensor technology in fish farm settings to improve husbandry practices. A network of sensors inside of pens capture oxygen levels and water temperatures to give fish farmers real-time data they can use to better plan feeding and aeration strategies. This specific application of ocean technology in aquaculture was transformative for the industry, and now fish farms all over the world use Innovasea sensors to monitor their habitats.
- Dr. Jon Grant
Professor, Department of Oceanography