Research facilities

Scientists in Canada's Pacific Region conduct research throughout coastal and interior BC, the Yukon's transboundary rivers, as well as the Western Arctic.


Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research (CAER)

Photo: Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research

Located at:

4160 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC
V7V 1N6

The Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research (CAER) is a specialized centre for aquaculture and coastal research co-founded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the University of British Columbia. CAER conducts focused research programs that integrate ecosystem and conservation with sustainable aquaculture practices for growing aquatic species of global importance. Recognized internationally as a centre dedicated to innovative research and education in aquaculture and the marine environment, the six-hectare site offers a unique opportunity for experimental research on fish rearing and indoor-outdoor aquaria.

CAER'ss research activities focus on key areas related to sustainable aquaculture and marine ecosystems:

  • Biotechnology and Genomics
    • assessing and preventing interactions between wild and cultured animals
    • researching the adaptability of fish into new environments
    • developing tools for reproductive control in aquaculture
  • Coastal Habitat Issues
    • detecting noxious and toxic algal blooms
    • preventing the spread of non-indigenous species
    • studying natural sea lice infestation cycles and the links between wild and cultured fish
  • Aquatic Animal Nutrition
    • developing cost effective and nutritional diets for salmon and marine fish species by identifying suitable replacements for fishmeal and oil of plant and/or animal origin.
    • creating environmentally friendly diets by minimizing organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus discharge.
    • enhancing the flesh quality of market-size cultured salmon and marine fish species
  • Salmon Migration Physiology and Ecology
    • researching the physiology and behaviour of fish
    • studying factors affecting broodstock quality for salmon, marine fish and invertebrates
    • developing tools for ecosystem-based modeling techniques
Cultus Lake Salmon Research Laboratory

Cultus Lake Salmon Research Laboratory

Photo: Cultus Lake Salmon Research Facility

Located at:

4222 Columbia Valley Highway
Cultus Lake, BC
V2R 5B6

Cultus Lake Laboratory is a Fisheries and Oceans Canada facility located in the eastern Fraser Valley near Chilliwack, British Columbia. The facility contains several laboratories, including an inorganic chemistry laboratory and a radioisotope laboratory. Also on site are artificial streams, ponds, and an experimental hatchery, all of which make use of an abundant supply of high-quality fresh water which comes from nearby Cultus Lake. Currently, there are 11 DFO employees at the site. Other DFO staff as well as graduate students and university researchers make extensive use of the site for various collaborative projects.

Institute of Ocean Sciences

Institute of Ocean Sciences

Photo: Institute of Ocean Sciences

Located at:

9860 West Saanich Road
P.O. Box 6000
Sidney, BC
V8L 4B2

(on Patricia Bay, at the west end of Victoria International Airport)

Located west of Sidney on Vancouver Island on a 70-acre site, the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) is one of Canada's largest marine institutes. An important link in Fisheries and Oceans Canada's nationwide chain of nine major scientific facilities, the institute is the centre for research on coastal waters of BC, the Northeastern Pacific Ocean, the western Canadian Arctic and navigable fresh waters east to the Alberta border.

The Institute of Ocean Sciences has earned international recognition for its work in ocean sciences. Its more than 250 scientists and researchers are dedicated to providing up-to-date information on all elements of oceanography, including fisheries and ocean research, environmental science and hydrography. They also work closely with staff at other Fisheries and Oceans' labs in BC.

Research at the institute is focused on two DFO science divisions:

  • Canadian Hydrographic Service
  • Ocean Science

Through these efforts, IOS has become a major player in efforts to restore and manage coastal ecosystems, and produces more than 20 per cent of Canada's nautical charts. Studies range from the effects of global warming on marine ecosystems, to contaminants in Arctic ice, tracking 'red tide' in shellfish, the nature of oil spills, and even predictions on where and when a tsunami will strike.

The Institute of Ocean Sciences is also home to the Pacific Geoscience Centre, the main centre in western Canada for monitoring earthquakes. A seismic fault is located on the grounds. Also stationed at IOS is the Canadian Coast Guard Pacific Fleet (Patricia Bay Base) as well as the state-of-the-art Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre. In addition, offices for the Canadian Wildlife Service and North Pacific Science Organization or PICES, Institute of Ocean Sciences an international scientific body devoted to oceanography, are part of the modern 300,000-square-foot facility. IOS also builds active links with industry, both as an active partner and an information resource.

Pacific Biological Station

Pacific Biological Station

Photo: Pacific Biological Station

Located at:

3190 Hammond Bay Road,
Nanaimo, BC
V9T 6N7
Fax: 250-756-7053

PBS is located on the northwest shore of Departure Bay in Nanaimo, across the bay from the Departure Bay terminal of BC Ferries.

The Pacific Biological Station is the oldest fisheries research center on the Pacific coast and forms part of a network of nine major scientific facilities operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Located in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the Station is home to scientists, technicians, support staff and ships' crews whose common interests are the coastal waters of British Columbia, the Northeast Pacific Ocean, the Western Arctic and navigable waters east to the Manitoba, Saskatchewan border.

PBS was established in 1908 and is the principal centre for fisheries research on the West Coast. There are some 22 structures on the site including a four-story office/wet lab building, specialty storage structures for hazardous chemicals and salt water pumping facilities. PBS maintains a number of workshops for research support. There is a 200-lineal-foot wharf used for loading, unloading, and berthage of research vessels, as well as a small boat dock for inshore research boats. PBS also maintains a library and meeting facilities. Aquatic facilities, primarily used by Aquaculture Science, include ambient temperature and heated salt water and fresh (municipal supply) water.

Research at PBS responds to stock assessment, aquaculture, marine environment, habitat, ocean science and fish productivity priorities. Some fisheries management activities are also conducted here.

SAFE Division at SFU

SAFE Division at SFU

Photo: SAFE Offices at SFU

Located at:

SAFE Division offices at Simon Fraser University
c/o School of Resource & Environment Management
Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6
Fax: 604-666-1995

Five SAFE Division staff are based at SFU's Burnaby campus as part of the Co-operative Resource Management Institute (CRMI) in Resource and Environmental Management facilities. Research activities are primarily associated with the incubation, rearing, migration, and feeding behaviour of salmonids, and the health and carrying capacity of the habitat on which they depend. Specific research projects include effects of timber harvesting on fish habitat, water withdrawal and energy generation impacts and effects of riverine conditions on adult salmon migration. Research projects are carried out in coastal and interior B.C., as well as the Yukon.