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Research Award Co-Recipients 2009: Dr. Thierry Chopin & Dr. Shawn Robinson

The 2009 Research Award of Excellence goes to Drs. Thierry Chopin and Shawn Robinson, in recognition of their contributions to taking the concept of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) from the ‘proof stage’ to the realm of commercial production with the help of their interdisciplinary team and industry partners. They realized that most of the challenges that would accompany large-scale IMTA development could not be thoroughly anticipated or studied in the laboratory or with pilot-scale projects and, consequently, emphasized the need for scientific research and commercial IMTA to develop together. This is what is now occurring, and to date no ‘deal breakers’ for the adoption of commercial IMTA have been identified. Their IMTA research has truly been an aquaculture good news story, with few aquaculture research projects having generated such international interest in mainstream and environmental non governmental organization (ENGO) media, including a National Geographic documentary.
Dr. Chopin was born and educated in France, where he obtained his Doctorate from the University of Western Brittany in 1985. He moved to Canada in 1989 and is now a Professor of Marine Biology at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. He is Past President of the Phycological Society of America (2004) and of the Aquaculture Association of Canada (2004-05), and current President of the International Seaweed Association (2007-10).
Dr. Robinson was born in British Columbia and educated on both the east and west coasts, obtaining his PhD in 1988 at the University of British Columbia. He began his career with Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a research scientist at the Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, in 1988. He is also a Past President of the Aquaculture Association of Canada (2002-03).

Dr. Chopin was originally an ecophysiologist and biochemist working on the relationship between nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) and the production of phycocolloids in seaweeds of commercial value, both in controlled culture conditions and natural beds. Dr. Robinson was an invertebrate ecologist interested in applying ecological principles to the harvest and culture of commercial species (scallops, clams and sea urchins) so that more efficient and sustainable commercial practices could be developed. They became interested in aquaculture in the late 1990’s when they realized that the significant amount of inorganic nutrients and organic particles generated by fed finfish (salmon) aquaculture could be used to enhance the cultivation of extractive species, such as seaweeds (kelps and dulse) and invertebrates (suspension feeders such as mussels, and deposit feeders such as sea urchins, sea cucumbers and polychaetes), through the development of IMTA systems.
In 2000, Drs. Chopin and Robinson assembled an inter-disciplinary team to investigate the different, complex and inter-related aspects of IMTA. This team included natural and socioeconomic scientists and graduate students from the University of New Brunswick and the St. Andrews Biological Station, industrial partners (Heritage Salmon Ltd. and now Cooke Aquaculture Inc., Acadian Seaplants Limited and Ocean Nutrition Canada) and federal and provincial agencies (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, New Brunswick Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and New Brunswick Innovation Foundation). They were funded from 2001 to 2006 by AquaNet, Canada’s Network of Centres of Excellence for Aquaculture, which allowed them to make excellent progress in R&D due to the dedication of the team members and their interdisciplinary approach. Since 2006, the project has expanded from R&D to C (commercialization) with the support of ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund and industrial partners Cooke Aquaculture Inc. and Acadian Seaplants Limited. In 2008, Drs. Chopin and Robinson, now recognized as world leaders in the development of IMTA, were among the key players in the creation of the Canadian IMTA Network (CIMTAN), which became a reality in 2009. This pan-Canadian academic/government/industry partnership will provide the interdisciplinary R&D and the training of highly qualified personnel needed for the commercialization of IMTA in Canada, with a focus on 1) ecological design, ecosystem interactions and biomitigation efficiencies, 2) system innovation and engineering, 3) economic viability and societal acceptance, and 4) regulatory science.
Le Prix d’Excellence en Recherche pour 2009 est attribué aux Drs Thierry Chopin et Shawn Robinson en reconnaissance de leurs contributions pour avoir mené le concept d’Aquaculture Intégrée Multi-Trophique (AIMT) du stade de la démonstration jusqu’à l’orée de la production commerciale avec l’aide de leur équipe inter-disciplinaire et de leurs partenaires industriels. Ils ont compris que la plupart des défis accompagnant le développement à grande échelle de l’AIMT ne pourraient pas être totalement anticipés ou étudiés ni au laboratoire ni à l’échelle pilote et, en conséquence, ils ont toujours insisté pour que la recherche scientifique et l’AIMT au niveau commercial soient développées ensemble. C’est ce qui est en train de se passer et jusqu’à maintenant aucun frein à l’adoption de l’AIMT commerciale n’a été identifié. Leur recherche sur l’AIMT est vraiment une nouvelle positive pour l’aquaculture et peu de projets de recherche en aquaculture ont généré autant d’intérêt dans les médias grand public et des organisations environnementales non gouvernementales, incluant un documentaire tourné par la National Geographic.

Le Dr. Chopin est né et a fait ses études en France, ou il a obtenu en 1985 son Doctorat à l’Université de Bretagne Occidentale. Il s’est installé au Canada en 1989 et est actuellement Professeur de Biologie Marine à l’Université du Nouveau Brunswick à Saint John. Il a été Président de la Société Phycologique d’Amérique (2004) et de l’Association Aquacole du Canada (2004-05) et est l’actuel Président de l’Association Internationale des Algues (2007-10).
Le Dr. Shawn Robinson est né en Colombie Britannique et a fait ses études aussi bien sur les côtes est et carrière avec Pêches et Océans Canada comme chercheur à la Station Biologique de St. Andrews, Nouveau Brunswick, en 1988. Il est aussi Ancien Président de l’Association Aquacole du Canada (2002-03).
Le Dr Chopin était à l’origine un écophysiologiste et biochimiste travaillant sur la relation entre sels nutritifs (le phosphore et l’azote) et la production des phycocolloïdes chez les algues à valeur commerciale, aussi bien en conditions de culture contrôlées que dans les champs naturels en mer.
Le Dr Robinson était un écologiste des invertébrés intéressé par l’application des principes écologiques à la pêche et la culture d’espèces commerciales (les pétoncles, palourdes et oursins) afin que des méthodes commerciales plus efficaces et durables soient développées. Ils se sont intéressés à l’aquaculture à la fin des années 90 quand ils ont réalisé que la quantité importante de sels nutritifs inorganiques et de particules organiques générée par l’aquaculture de nourrissage des poissons (le saumon) pouvait être utilisée pour accroître la culture d’espèces d’extraction, comme les algues (les laminaires et dulse) et les invertébrés (se nourrissant des particules en suspension comme les moules ou des particules sur le fond comme les oursins, les concombres de mer et les polychètes), par le développement de systèmes d’AIMT.
En 2000, les Drs Chopin et Robinson ont mis en place une équipe inter-disciplinaire pour étudier les différents aspects, complexes et reliés, de l’AIMT. Cette équipe était composée de chercheurs des sciences naturelles et socio-économiques et d’étudiants en thèse de l’Université du Nouveau Brunswick et de la Station Biologique de St. Andrews, de partenaires industriels (Heritage Salmon Ltd. et maintenant Cooke Aquaculture Inc., Acadian Seaplants Limited et Ocean Nutrition Canada) et d’agences fédérales et provinciales (Pêches et Océans Canada, l’Agence Canadienne d’Inspection des Aliments, le Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêches et de l’Aquaculture du Nouveau Brunswick, l’Agence de Promotion Economique du Canada Atlantique (APECA) et la Fondation de l’Innovation du Nouveau Brunswick). Ils ont été supportés de 2001 à 2006 par AquaNet, le Réseau de Centres d’Excellence en Aquaculture du Canada, ce qui leur a permis de faire d’excellents progrès en R&D attribuables au dévouement des membres de l’équipe et à leur approche inter-disciplinaire. Depuis 2006, le projet s’est étendu de la R&D à la C (commercialisation) avec le soutien du Fonds d’Innovation de l’Atlantique de l’APECA et des partenaires industriels Cooke Aquaculture Inc. et Acadian Seaplants Limited. En 2008, les Drs. Chopin et Robinson, maintenant reconnus comme leaders internationaux dans le développement de l’AIMT, étaient parmi les principaux acteurs pour la création du Réseau Canadien de l’AIMT (RCAIMT), qui est devenu une réalité en 2009. Ce partenariat pan-canadien entre des institutions universitaires et gouvernementales et des partenaires industriels va mettre en place la R&D inter disciplinaire et la formation de personnes hautement qualifiées necessaries pour la commercialisation de l’AIMT au Canada en se concentrant sur 1) le design écologique, les interactions écosystèmiques et les rendements en biomitigation, 2) les innovations des systèmes et de l’ingénierie, 3) la viabilité économique et l’acceptation sociétale, et 4) la science en support des réglementations.

Research Award Recipient 2007: Prof. Richard D. Moccia

Professor Richard Moccia currently holds research and senior management cross-appointments at the University of Guelph, where he has been employed since 1987. He is the Associate Vice-President of Research (Agrifood and
Partnerships), as well as Director of the university’s Aquaculture Centre and the Alma Aquaculture Research Station
– both centres of excellence dedicated to the development of aquaculture science and technology. Rich also holds a
faculty appointment as a Professor of Aquatic Science in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences and is the
Chair of the MSc Aquaculture Program. Professor Moccia has been an enthusiastic member of the Canadian aquaculture sector for nearly 30 years. His career activities have always had a strong focus in research, as well as in education and extension service, in various capacities within the aquatics and fisheries sectors in Canada. Rich is a very student-centred educator, and has advised 32 students in either MSc or PhD programs, and has participated in the committees of over 100 other graduate students. His research career began in the mid-1970s, examining thyroid goiter and neoplasia in Great Lakes fish, using fish and birds as biological sentinels of ecosystem effects and environmental degradation. Rich’s more recent research has been directed at industry related problems and he has dedicated himself primarily to applied studies related to the enhancement of the commercial success of the fish farming industry. These studies are highly varied and span such areas as: applied nutrition, aquatic and fish health, ecotoxicology, environmental impact assessment, reproductive and growth physiology and animal welfare studies related to captive aquatic livestock. Professor Moccia has published widely in journals such as Science, Cancer Research, Journal of Wildlife Disease, Aquaculture, Aquaculture Nutrition, Aquaculture Research, Fish and Fisheries, Environmental Biology of Fishes and many others. Prior to his university career, Rich was President of the Ontario Aquaculture Association, as well as Research Director and Vice-president of an aquaculture technology and fish production company which he co-founded. He also established and ran a private consulting company, which was dedicated to helping farmers with fish health and water quality issues. Rich Moccia was also a founding member of two private sector, national aquaculture lobbying groups, including the predecessor to CAIA, and was instrumental in helping to position the industry within the government’s mandate during the early years of the industry’s commercial development in Canada. Professor Moccia is also the holder of a Distinguish Professorial Teaching Award (2002) and a Distinguished Extension Service Award (2004). In his spare time he is an avid hockey player, scuba diver, hiker and coach of minor league sports.

Research Award Recipient 2006: Dr. David A. Higgs

Since August 1975, Dr. Higgs as head of the DFO Fish Nutrition Program based at the West Vancouver Laboratory (presently the DFO/UBC Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research), has conducted collaborative projects within DFO and with universities (professors and graduate students) and/or industry that have been directed primarily to (1) improving the cost effectiveness of hatchery and mariculture operations, (2) minimizing organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus discharge from salmon farms into the environment, and (3) enhancing the flesh quality or consumer acceptance of market-size salmon and sablefish. Major study areas modifying the foregoing goals have included: nutrient and energy requirements; feedstuff digestibility; improvement of fish meal quality; alternate protein, lipid and carotenoid pigment sources to expensive premium quality fish meal and oil and synthetic astaxanthin, respectively; comparisons of the nutrient profiles of farmed and wild BC sources of salmon; development of nutritional strategies to reduce flesh organohalogen concentrations and enhance (n-3) highly unsaturated fatty acid levels for potential human health benefits; nutrition-disease interactions; exercise-nutritional status interactions; nutrition-endocrine interactions; nutrition of non-transgenic versus transgenic salmon; and assessment of the potential nutritive values of salmon prey species and of the energy expenditures of wild Pacific salmon undergoing their spawning migration.

In Memoriam – Dr. Joseph Brown

The Aquaculture Association of Canada mourns the loss of a friend, colleague, and mentor. Joe Brown passed away suddenly at his home in Shoe Cove, Newfoundland, on Sunday, September 4, 2005. A Past President of AAC, Joe was a colorful, vibrant, and cheerful staple to every AAC conference and other aquaculture-related meetings, both in Canada and worldwide. His professional relationships were all sincere, illustrated by the large network of colleagues that also called him a friend. His contributions to aquaculture are countless and outstanding, all the while he was one of the most approachable – and recognizable – figures in his field. In addition, Joe’s commitment to students was unprecedented. The Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University, and the aquaculture community have lost a dear friend. Joe will always be remembered with a smile.

Donations may be made to the Dr. Joseph Brown Scholarship Fund Memorial University of Newfoundland (specify other: Dr. Joseph Brown Scholarship Fund).

Our condolences are extended to Joe’s family and close friends.

Research Award Recipient 2005: Dr. John Castell

Dr. Castell is Scientist Emeritus at the St. Andrews Biological Station of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Born April 19, 1943 in Guelph Ontario where his Father taught at OAC, he completed his BSc (Hon’s) in Biochemistry at the Dalhousie University in 1964. He was Dr. Robert G. Ackman’s first graduate student completing his MSc in Lipid Chemistry at Dalhousie University September 1965. He completed his PhD in Food Science and Technology from Oregon State University in 1970. His Postdoctoral Fellowship was spent under Dr. Orvill Privitt at the Hormell institute at the University of Minnesota. He joined DFO ‘s Halifax Fisheries Research Laboratory in December of 1970 as a Research Scientist. He served as Head of the Disease and Nutrition Section from 1983 to 1988. His research has involved studies of a wide variety of aquatic organisms including both North American lobsters (Homarus americanus) and spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus) in Cuba, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Chinese shrimp (Penaeus chinensis), American and European oysters (Crassostrea virginicus and Ostrea edulis), European crayfish (Asticus asticus), just to name a few of the species. This research would not have been possible without the efforts of many undergraduate, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and colleagues at DFO, Dalhousie University, University of Moncton, the Agricultural College of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Technical College, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maine at Orono and the University of New Brunswick the aquaculture industry and research institutes around the world. Dr Castell served on the Editorial Advisory Board Associate Editor for Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 1983-1986, Member of Editorial Advisory Board for Aquaculture 1984-1992, Associate Editor for the Journal of Aquariculture 1979-Present, and Associate Editor for Journal of Tropical Aquaculture 1985-present. Dr. Castell was instrumental in the establishment of the International Working Group on Crustacean nutrition and served as Editor of Crustacean Nutrition Newsletter 1983-1992. He has served on the Board of Directors of World Aquaculture Society from 1984 until 1991, including a term as president 1989 to1990. He served on several ICES Working Groups and chaired the ICES Working Group on Marine Fish Culture from 1999 until retirement in 2002. Appointed to U.S. National Academy of Science, National Research Council, Committee on Animal Nutrition, Subcommittee on Warmwater Fish” 1981-83. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and University of New Brunswick and founded Castell Aquaculture Nutrition Consulting in 2004. Dr Castell was appointed Canadian Consultant to International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) Cuba (Langosta) Project 1982-1985. This was a three year cooperative international assistance project to improve live holding and processing of the spiny lobster in Cuba. He was Canadian Consultant to IDRC’s China (Penaeus chinensis) Project 1986-1991 He is also a volunteer advisor with Canadian Executive Services Organization and has been involved in aquaculture projects in China 2001 and Panama 2003.

Research Award Recipient 2004: Dr. Edward Donaldson

Dr. Donaldson is Scientist Emeritus at the West Vancouver Laboratory of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Originally, from Cumbria in the UK, he completed his BSc (Hon’s) in Zoology at the University of Sheffield in 1961 and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia in 1964. Funded by a NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, he spent a year in the Department of Medical Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota. He joined DFO ‘s Vancouver Laboratory in 1965 and moved to the West Vancouver Laboratory in 1968 where he was a Research Scientist and became Head of the Biotechnology, Genetics and Nutrition Section. His research covered a range of topics including the development of techniques for induced ovulation and spermiation, production of monosex and sterile populations, growth acceleration and evaluation of stress in wild and cultured salmonids. This research would not have been possible without the efforts of many graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and colleagues at DFO, UBC, SFU, UVic, the aquaculture industry and research institutes around the world. Dr Donaldson has served on the Editorial Advisory Board for Aquaculture since 1983 and as Section Editor Physiology and Endocrinology for Aquaculture since 1999. He has sat on numerous DFO committees including serving as chair of the Deputy Minister’s Science Advisory Committee and has lectured or consulted on aquaculture research in over 30 countries. He currently serves (2001-2004) on the Life Sciences Fellowship Selection Committee, Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre since 1992, serves as an Adjunct Professor at UBC and founded Ed Donaldson & Associates Ltd., aquaculture and fisheries consultants in 2001. Awards received include the American Fisheries Society, 1977 Most Significant Paper Award, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 1989 Ministerial Merit Award, Science Council of British Columbia, 1992 Gold Medal in Natural Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, 1995 Thomas W. Eadie Medal, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 1997 Deputy Minister’s Commendation.
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Prix d’excellence en recherche
M. Edward M. Donaldson, docteur ès sciences, MSRC
M. Donaldson est scientifique émérite au Laboratoire de Vancouver-Ouest du ministère des Pêches et des Océans. De Cumbria, au Royaume-Uni, il obtient un baccalauréat en sciences (avec distinction) en zoologie à l’Université de Sheffield en 1961 et un doctorat en zoologie à l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique en 1964. Titulaire d’une bourse de recherche postdoctorale du NIH, il passe une année au Département de biochimie médicale de l’Université du Minnesota. Il se joint au Laboratoire de Vancouver du MPO en 1965 et au Laboratoire de Vancouver-Ouest en 1968 à titre de chercheur et il y devient par la suite chef de la section Biotechnologie, génétique et nutrition. Ses recherches portent sur divers sujets, dont les techniques de provocation de l’ovulation et de l’émission du sperme, de production de populations monosexuées et stériles, d’accélération de la croissance et d’évaluation du stress chez les salmonidés sauvages et d’élevage. Ces recherches n’auraient pas pu être réalisées sans la collaboration de nombreux étudiants diplômés, de détenteurs d’une bourse de perfectionnement postdoctoral ainsi que de collègues du MPO, de l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique, de l’Université Simon Fraser, de l’Université de Victoria, de l’industrie de l’aquaculture et d’instituts de recherche de partout dans le monde. M. Donaldson siège au comité consultatif de rédaction d’Aquaculture depuis 1983 et il est rédacteur en chef de la section Physiologie et endocrinologie d’Aquaculture depuis 1999. Il siège à de nombreux comités du MPO; il est notamment président du Comité consultatif du sous-ministre des Sciences et il a donné des conférences et mené des consultations sur la recherche en aquaculture dans plus de tente pays. Il siège actuellement (2001-2004) au sein du comité de sélection des récipiendaire de bourse en sciences de la vie, Académie des sciences, Société royale du Canada. Il est membre du conseil d’administration du Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre depuis 1992, professeur auxiliaire à l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique et il a fondé en 2001 Ed Donaldson & Associates Ltd., une firme de consultants dans le domaine de l’aquaculture et des pêches. Il a reçu le prix décerné par l’American Fisheries Society pour l’article le plus important en 1977, le prix d’excellence de Pêches et Océans Canada en 1989, la médaille d’or en sciences naturelles décernée par le Conseil des sciences de la Colombie-Britannique en 1992, la médaille Thomas W. Eadie décernée par la Société royale du Canada en 1995 et la mention du sous-ministre de Pêches et Océans Canada en 1997.

Research Award Recipient 2003: Dr. Tillmann Benfey

Dr. Benfey is a professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where he teaches courses in animal physiology, environmental biology and aquaculture. Originally from Montreal, he completed his BSc in Marine Biology at McGill University in 1981 followed by a MSc in Biology from Memorial University in 1984 and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia in 1988. With funding from a NATO Science Fellowship, he then spent a year at the MAFF Fisheries Laboratory in Lowestoft (UK) before taking up his current faculty position at UNB in 1989. His research programme, sustained largely through the efforts of numerous graduate students, focuses on developing effective methods for producing sterile and single-sex populations of fish for aquaculture. This research programme has benefited from extensive collaboration with DFO, NRC and the aquaculture industry. In addition to his duties as a faculty member at UNB, Dr. Benfey is an Associate Editor for the North American Journal of Aquaculture and is on the Editorial Advisory Board for Aquaculture. He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Aquaculture Association of Canada (1995-97), the Huntsman Marine Sciences Centre (1998-2002) and the AquaNet Network of Centres of Excellence (2001-2003). He has also served on the National Biotechnology Advisory Committee for Industry Canada (1995-97) as well as numerous advisory committees for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the NB Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the NB Broodstock Development Program.