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sector_ico_Fisheries_trans Fisheries and Aquaculture

Enhancing Production in Coho: Culture, Community, Catch (EPIC4)

  • Project Leaders: Ben Koop, Louis Bernatchez
  • Institutions: Simon Fraser University (SFU)
  • Budget: $9867636
  • Program/Competition: Large Scale Applied Research Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2015
  • Status: Closed

With 25% of the world's coastline and 16% of the world's freshwater, Canada is well-positioned to build a stronger and vibrant blue economy in an ecologically sustainable manner. Coho salmon, a highly valued species in BC, has faced tremendous challenges from overharvesting since 1989. Despite harvest restrictions and habitat restoration effects, there has been limited progress in reverting the species' steep decline, particularly in southern BC. An interdisciplinary team of natural and social scientists embarked on a five-year project to address challenges in managing mixed-stock fisheries and hatchery-wild interactions, conserving Coho genetic diversity, and sustainability of land-based aquaculture in Canada.   

Led by Drs. Willie Davidson (Simon Fraser University), Ben Koop (University of Victoria) and Louis Bernatchez (Université Laval), the team produced the  

  • First Coho Salmon genome;   
  • Revised the BC Coho Salmon conservation units;  
  • Identified genetic markers associated with local adaptation and disease resistance in aquaculture;  
  • Developed and implemented Parentage-Based-Tagging and Genetic Stock Identification to mixed-stock fisheries and hatchery management;  
  • Produced and validated the use of two SNP arrays for conservation and aquaculture; and,  
  • Assessed the economic value and perception of implementing genomics into decision-making in fisheries management and aquaculture from the public, indigenous communities, industry, and regulatory bodies. 

The resources and expertise developed through EPIC4 have already been translated into the current management of wild coho fishery at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. EPIC4 will continue to serve as the foundation for a sustainable aquaculture industry and effective hatchery program to help restore food and cultural securities for First Nations as well as employment in all associated communities in Canada.