2010 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Dr. Al Castledine

2010 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Dr. Al Castledine

Dr. Al Castledine retired in the spring of 2010 from his position as Director of Aquaculture Policy, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. A degree in English and a desire to experience some of the world took him to Tanzania, East Africa with CUSO for several years in the early 1970’s teaching English and Biology in a boys’ secondary school. It was there that the idea came up to come back to Canada to pursue a passion for fish with the hope of some day returning to Tanzania to work on artisanal aquaculture. This was a simple, perhaps naïve, idea that has taken a number of twists over the years given the complexity of marriage, children and work. After Tanzania, a couple of years of undergraduate courses lead into a Master’s Program in fish nutrition at the University of Guelph followed by a year’s research on Asian carps in Malaysia compliments of a CIDA scholarship. Then off to the University of Victoria for a PhD in biochemistry focusing on fat metabolism in rainbow trout supported in part by NRC. A year in Ottawa (1981-1982) working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans producing a report on the fish feed industry, amongst other duties, followed. Then off to Ontario from 1982 until 1987as an aquaculture extension biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. In 1987 the opportunity to return to the west coast came up initially as aquaculture production specialist with the British Columbia government succeeded by various roles including both management and Director positions in seafood and aquaculture development in marine and fresh waters. In 2001, Al worked with DFO in Ottawa in an interchange agreement – it was an exciting time – the federal aquaculture policy framework was being developed, the Office of the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development was in full swing and many other new initiatives were being discussed and implemented.

Indeed, the ten years between 1999 and 2009 saw a lot of engagement by the Provinces with the federal government on aquaculture through the Canadian Council of Aquaculture Ministers Aquaculture Task Group (Al co-chaired the Task Group for a number of years). This Task Group provided an opportunity for the Provinces to shape and to support a number of key federal initiatives such as the National Aquatic Animal Health Program, the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program, and the significant resources currently deployed within the Department to support industry Market Access Program among others.
Several years ago, as Director of Aquaculture Policy in British Columbia, Al took the initial first steps toward aquaculture development focused on communities and area and ecosystem based approaches to management. Two conventional industry development positions were re-profiled to focus on social licence issues. These actions are recognition that social licence and not technology (at the moment) is the most important factor hindering further growth of aquaculture in British Columbia (and probably lots of other places).
Al was, for many years a member of the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists, taking the steps to qualify to become a member because of the logical connections between aquaculture and agriculture (the irony of the recent British Columbia court decision declaring aquaculture to be a fishery, notwithstanding). He may have been the first Professional Agrologist in Canada to come from an aquaculture background and was recognized as Agrologist of the year for Victoria and the Islands Branch in 2000.
Al has been a member of AAC for many years and served on the Board in several capacities and as president in 1994-1995.
He would like to recognize the many wonderful and talented people he has met and worked with in what has been a very challenging and rewarding 35 years in aquaculture research, extension and management. As for Tanzania, Al and his wife Birgit, headed there in June 2010 to explore volunteer opportunities with high hopes that these will concern aquaculture.