Healthy Fish. Healthy Environment. Healthy Food.

“This is a new frontier of science that will make a difference in people's lives,” says Dr. Ian Gardner, UPEI and AVC’s Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology. “This research deals with the health of our oceans, but is also about what goes on our plate at dinnertime."

UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College is known as an international leader in fish-health and animal- population research. These two areas of expertise come together in UPEI’s newest research chair.

Schooled in the United States and his native Australia, Dr. Gardner comes to UPEI/AVC from the University of California at Davis. He joins the Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology (CVER)—one of the foremost centres of research in its field in the world, now home to six funded research chairs.

“I’m excited to be part of this team,” says Gardner. “This is research with real impact. Consumers are looking for affordable sources of protein—and aquaculture can provide that. Government is looking for economic development, and aquaculture is a growing industry in the world. We can help balance the world’s growing need for fish with the oceans’ need for environmentally sustainable farming techniques.”

As the world’s stock of wild fish dwindles, aquaculture becomes an increasingly important source of quality protein for a hungry planet. The current global value of aquaculture is estimated at more than $70 billion, with an annual growth rate of 10 per cent—making it the world’s fastest-growing food-production sector. Fish and lobster sales in Canada alone are valued at $2 billion per year.

“And yet,” says Gardner, “aquaculture has an unfortunately poor reputation among some members of the public. Our research at CVER will assure sustainable techniques for farming fish, so that when people come asking pointed questions about the environmental impact, we can answer using sound, peer-reviewed science.”

Gardner is internationally recognized for developing tests to assess disease risk in terrestrial- and aquatic-food organisms. These tests have been used in global veterinary and public-health activities, and have influenced policies at the US Department of Agriculture and the World Organization for Animal Health.

Gardner is among the most cited researchers in his field, with over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications in leading journals, such as Preventive Veterinary Medicine, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Veterinary Pathology.

His research interests include risk analysis of livestock health and food safety, and the epidemiology of musculoskeletal injuries in racehorses. Though most of his research has involved land-based species, Gardner will shift his focus to aquatic species.