Enhancing production in Coho: Culture, Community, Catch (EPIC4)
Fisheries and aquaculture are a $2.5 billion industry in Canada, supporting many thousands of jobs across the country. With 25 per cent of the world’s coastline and 16 per cent of the world’s fresh water, the importance of fisheries to Canada, and the opportunity that this represents for Canada, cannot be overstated. In BC, for example, seafood is the province’s largest agri‐food export ($870 million) and contributes 2.2 billion in direct industry revenues annually to the province. Since the 1990s, however, the commercial salmon fishery on the west coast has decreased in value from $263 million to $24 million. The commercial Coho Salmon fishery has been essentially closed since 1999, in part due to declining and endangered populations. Reopening the Coho Salmon fishery, based on recovered and enhanced populations, would bring both economic and social benefits.
EPIC4, under the leadership of Dr. Willie Davidson of Simon Fraser University and Dr. Louis Bernatchez of Université Laval, will develop and use new genomics tools to address challenges facing the safe, secure and sustainable production of Coho Salmon. The interdisciplinary team of natural and social scientists will sequence the Coho Salmon genome, document the genetic diversity of thousands of individuals and determine how Coho Salmon from different geographic regions vary genetically. They will apply their knowledge to revive and sustain the wild Coho Salmon fisheries. This information will also help develop BC’s Coho Salmon land‐ based aquaculture industry to make it more productive and profitable. Working with stakeholders, EPIC4 will explore and understand fully the economic, institutional, regulatory and social‐ecological opportunities for these tools to optimize their deployment in real‐world settings.
The result will be an economically viable Coho Salmon aquaculture industry serving both domestic and export markets, bringing jobs and economic benefits to communities and enhancing Canada’s role as a world leader in fisheries and aquaculture genomics. The results of the project should also be transferable to other species of Pacific salmon as well as salmonids from other regions of Canada.