Dr. Amber Garber of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre received the R3 Award at R3 Gala 2016 on March 23rd for her selective breeding program for salmon. Her salmon broodstock are set to have a higher growth rate, sea lice and bacterial kidney disease resistance. Sea lice resistance reduces the need to bathe the fish in peroxide, which makes the fish stop eating and growing for at least a week every time it is administered. Bacterial kidney disease resistance significantly reduces the need to use antibiotics. All in, her program will increase the market value by producing higher quality fish devoid of the defects in-breeding can produce, lower livestock death rate, and improve environmental conditions.
Dr. Garber is also the creator of the ECO-Bath System, which improves the treatment of sea lice on cultured Atlantic salmon where pesticide containment treatments are permitted (not in New Brunswick). Traditionally, infected fish are treated by surrounding the sea cage with a tarp and adding a pesticide. Because it's in the sea, large volumes of pesticide are needed to reach an effective concentration. Plus, the tarp reduces oxygen in the water enough to stress and kill some of the fish. Responsible aquaculture requires a safe and healthy environment for all living creatures.
The Huntsman Marine Science Centre is to create an effective treatment system (ECO-Bath) that pumps infected fish into an impermeable tarp where a treatment is administered. As the fish are pumped out, removed sea lice are left behind and filtration methods (under development) trap nearly all the treatment pesticides following use. For every cultured fish lost, so goes the costs and potential profit associated with it. The ECO-Bath System work will go a long way to protect fish health, the environment, and the aquaculture industry.