New Laboratory To Help Protect Fish Stocks – NBIF Invests

New Laboratory To Help Protect Fish Stocks - NBIF Invests

SACKVILLE (NB)—The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) today announced $150,000 in funding to help build a new aquatic laboratory at Mount Allison University. Awarded under the Foundation’s innovation capacity development initiative, the wet lab, now under construction, will allow researchers to determine how fish and invertebrates cope and survive under conditions of climate change and exposure to pollutants.

“Environmental changes in water cause fish physiological stress, which, like us, can lead to disease,” says biologist and professor Dr. Suzanne Currie, “plus, fish that are under stress don’t grow as well.”

The new tanks and control systems in the new facility will allow Dr. Currie and other researchers to precisely change the temperature, salinity, and oxygenation of the water. The previous facility, built in 1982, did not allow for the reliable and consistent changing of the composition of the water, and depended on the flow of the university’s general water services system to operate. With this new controlled system, Currie says her work could lead to new best practices for both wild and cultured fish stocks.

“Most of the fish we buy at the supermarket comes from a farm, many of them right here in New Brunswick,” says Calvin Milbury, President and CEO of NBIF, “as we find new and better ways to increase the output of the province’s aquaculture, the outcome of Dr. Currie’s research will be beneficial for many companies, not to mention new discoveries that could impact the future of the industry.”

Another aspect of Currie’s research focuses on the effect rising water temperatures have on fish susceptibility to the environmental pollutants released into the world’s rivers and oceans.

”Finding out at what water temperature fish are the least stressed and affected by contaminants is key for developing new best practices for industry,” says Currie, “for example, industries that release effluent into the water system can be encouraged to do so at times of year when water temperature is optimal.” Currie’s lab will also be able to look at the effects of reduced oxygen, rising carbon dioxide, and ocean acidification on marine life.

Milbury says that once the facility is complete, it will be one-of-a-kind in the country, attracting laboratory work from all over Canada. “Helping to build laboratories like this one is imperative to keep our universities’ capacity to innovate up to speed, both now, and to attract the next generation of New Brunswick researchers.”

To be named the Crabtree Aqualab, following a gift by the Harold Crabtree Foundation, the facility also received funding from Mount Allison University and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

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