Science at the Frontline


ANNE VENIOT:  My name is Anne Veniot. I'm the manager for DFO's National Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory System.  There are four laboratories within our system.  There's one in Nanaimo, one in Winnipeg, one in Charlottetown and the one here in Moncton.  Our laboratories are responsible for delivering the regulatory diagnostic testing to support Canada's National Aquatic Animal Health Program. We are part of the frontline protection system for Canada's valuable fish and seafood resources - with exports alone worth $4.4 billion in 2013.

When our laboratories receive whole fish samples, one of the first steps is the necropsy of those fish.  Necropsy allows technicians to make observations on the internal organs and on the surface of the fish to determine if there are any anomalies.  Our responsibility is to test for viruses, bacteria and parasites that can cause disease.  We use tests that are validated to make sure our test results are accurate.  DFO's diagnostic testing labs help prevent new diseases from being introduced and help maintain our access to export markets.

NELLIE GAGNÉ: My name is Nellie Gagné.  I'm a research scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  My main task would be to do research on aquatic animal diseases and develop and implement testing methods.

We have multiple tests on viruses, bacteria and parasites that we do on fish, shellfish, mollusc and crustaceans.

The field that is my speciality... it is the DNA, the genome, or the trace of the parasite that is left in the tissue. It is a relatively recent field so that keeps us on the edge.  The work we do can be challenging on many levels.  And we sometimes work under pressure when you have an outbreak and we have to respond because it is an emergency.  Although its in a lab and it doesn't seem too exciting when seen from outside, we know that what we do needs to be done well, efficiently, in a prompt manner and we report results that are accurate, precise, consistent... that we are sure of the quality, to meet or exceed international standards.

ANNE VENIOT:  At Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the diagnostic testing experts are the frontline of Canada's national aquatic health program.  Their work helps protect our aquatic animal populations from the introduction of diseases and helps maintain Canada's position as one of the largest fish and seafood exporters in the world.  I think that people are more and more aware of the importance of protecting our environment and the species that occur in them.  So I'm quite optimistic that because of this awareness and including the good science we do in our labs … all these contribute to a brighter future going forward.