An American company is looking to set up an aquaculture research centre in an abandoned fish plant in Souris.

Debbie Plouffe

The new facility in the Souris fish plant would be designed to prevent any escape of fish or pathogens, says Debbie Plouffe, VP of research for Centre for Aquaculture Technologies Canada. (CBC)

The Centre for Aquaculture Technologies Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Centre for Aquaculture Technologies, which is based in San Diego.

The Canadian operation is made up of former employees of AquaBounty, a genetically-modified salmon producer that also has its base in eastern P.E.I. CATC has its eye on the old fish plant in Souris, which shut down three years ago.

The company specializes in services needed to grow the aquaculture sector, says vice president of research Debbie Plouffe, including studies on fish viruses.

“Creating new products for fish that promote fish health, fish nutrition, improved genetics for disease resistance or faster growth,” said Plouffe. 

Souris fish plant

The Souris fish plant closed in 2011. (CBC)

The project would create up to 15 jobs in the area, said Plouffe, mostly for people with post-secondary education. 

Some residents said that's good news for the struggling town, but others are concerned about what effluent might come out of the plant.

 “I have to see what chemicals are doing what,” said Jim MacDonald, who fished out of Souris Harbour for years.

“Yes, I have concerns.”

Plouffe said there is no reason to worry about what might come out of the plant.

“The facility is designed to prevent escape of any pathogens and any animals,” she said.

Plouffe added while AquaBounty is a client, there are no plans, currently, for the company's genetically-modified salmon to be at CATC's Souris site. 

If CATC's plans are approved by government, Plouffe said the facility could be open by next summer.