Genome British Columbia - Genome Genomics

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fisheries & aquaculture

optimize the health of our fisheries



The fisheries and aquaculture sector is an integral part of the social and economic fabric of British Columbia. Many rural and First nations coastal communities base their livelihoods around coastal activities and some fish species have iconic status. The sector is also one of the economic engines of BC, producing the province's largest agricultural export, farmed salmon, providing significant employment — 18,000 full and part time workers — and contributing $1.2 billion in direct and indirect revenues annually to the province.

Canadian fisheries & aquaculture: How genomics can address sector challenges.

Read our national sector strategy developed in consultation with sector stakeholders. (PDF)


Powering BC'S Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector

Read our BC sector strategy developed in consultation with Fisheries and Aquaculture sector stakeholders. (PDF)


Mapping BC'S Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector

Read our asset map for BC's Fisheries and Aquaculture sector. (PDF)


"Over 90% of juvenile pacific salmon migrating from freshwater into the ocean will die before returning to freshwater to spawn—there is a belief within the scientific community that this mortality is highest during the first few months in the marine environment and that disease may be a significant factor in this mortality. We still don't know enough about what pathogens or diseases might be involved. The Salmon Health Initiative project will tell us more."


Dr. Brian Riddell

President & CEO,
Pacific Salmon Foundation



The final report of the Cohen Commission Inquiry Into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon highlighted uncertainty around pathogens and disease. In this report, Justice Bruce Cohen noted that a deeper examination was needed to make accurate assessments about the range of possible impacts of pathogens on wild fish stocks.

A new research project, the Salmon health Initiative: Inventory and Assessment of health Risk of Microbes in BC's Pacific Salmon is addressing the specific recommendations related to the study of fish pathogens and diseases made in the Cohen Commission final report.

Our current knowledge about salmon comes primarily from observations of cultured fish (both in hatcheries and in aquaculture). Consequently, there is a fair understanding of pathogens and diseases that impact salmon in freshwater hatcheries and sea-water net pens. However, we know less about pathogens affecting wild Pacific salmon. The project will generate positive impacts for both industry and society as it addresses one of the main challenges affecting the fisheries sector.

The project also builds on over a decade of investments, over $37.5 million, into genomics resources to establish the tools and knowledge base essential for this work. Phased over five years, the project will be the largest ever evaluation of the distribution and impact of potential disease agents conducted on BC Pacific salmon (wild and hatchery). While identification of a specific microbe won't necessarily indicate the presence of disease, it will provide a critical baseline for future monitoring activities. Rigorous analysis and categorization would determine which microbes have the potential to cause disease in salmon.

A public interest panel comprised of government, aquaculture industry, sport fishery, salmon gillnetters and environmental experts also plays an important role in determining disease agent information that is important to them and other end users. Ongoing engagement with these vested groups will assist in the development of a strategy to effectively communicate research outcomes and help identify applications that may assist in the management of wild and cultured salmon resources.



Genome BC recognizes the need to remain engaged with stakeholders in the wild fisheries and aquaculture sector and will continue discussions to understand challenges facing the sector. Identifying promising opportunities to help access new markets or develop new products is just one way in which Genome BC will continue to catalyze collaborations and innovation.

We are actively looking to engage new partners in this work. To get involved and explore how the wild fisheries and aquaculture sector can further leverage the transformative power of genomics and related disciplines to its advantage, contact:

David Charest
Sector Manager, Agrifood and Natural Resources
604.637.4387 or