Yellow Island Aquaculture has proven that even small companies can become scientific powerhouses when they have the right partners. For 20 years, the family-owned farm – one of the few in British Columbia that rears only native Chinook salmon – has collaborated with universities from across Canada to improve the profitability and sustainability of salmon farming.
Thanks to enhanced rearing techniques and genetic brood (breeding) stock, Yellow Island Aquaculture has become the first commercial salmon farm in Canada to convert to 100 per cent organic production of a native species and the collaboration with Canadian universities has generated a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Synergy Award for Innovation.
Bryan Neff from Western’s Faculty of Science is a member of the award-winning team, which was led by University of Windsor’s Trevor Pitcher. An expert in molecular and behavioural ecology, Neff currently serves as the Faculty of Science’s associate dean (research). Neff and his research team at Western predominately work with fish including salmon, bluegill, bullhead and guppy. These species are socially and economically important in Canada and represent billions of dollars per year to the economy through the recreational and commercial fisheries as well as the aquaculture industry.
The Synergy Awards for Innovation were launched in 1995 by NSERC to recognize partnerships in natural sciences and engineering research and development (R&D) between universities and Canadian industry. Since their inception, the awards have honoured the most outstanding achievements of these collaborations in the natural sciences and engineering. By working together, award-winning companies and universities have proven that effective partnerships are the foundation of achievement. Their success has enriched the academic and research programs within Canadian universities while providing tangible benefits to Canadians.