College seeks grant for aquatic monitoring program

Spencer Anderson, Comox Valley Echo

Published: Tuesday, December 06, 2011

North Island College is reaching for a potential $1-million grant to develop an applied research program in aquatic environmental monitoring.

NIC staff has submitted an application with the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in a bid to secure funding from NSERC’s Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges initiative, launched this past October.

The grant would allow the college to hire a researcher capable of coordinating the program with faculty and industry partners, as well as connecting students to educational opportunities related to the field.

NIC is also working with the B.C. Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences and aquaculture industry representatives to craft a research agenda suited to the north and west region of the Island.

NIC president Jan Lindsay said she was very pleased with outside support for the application, which included letters from mayors from the North Island and support from the four main fish farm companies in the region: Creative Salmon, Marine Harvest, Greig Seafood and Mainstream Canada.

She said the proposed research program is tailored for the fastgrowing aquaculture sector, and will complement programs NIC already offers, including entry-level courses on aquaculture and biology.

The environmental monitoring aspect of NIC’s pitch “can very much apply to other areas of natural resource industry,” Lindsay added.

If successful in achieving the grant, the program would be an initial hub in the college’s vision for a Natural Resource Education and Applied Research Centre, an umbrella framework that would identify specific education and research credentials required for students to break into a variety of natural resource sectors on the North Island.

“I just think it’s such an important step forward for the college to move in this direction with applied research and [be] able to provide support to the economic interests in the – North Island region through this type of activity,” Lindsay said.

NIC expects to hear back from NSERC by April.

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