Nova Scotia

Ocean Frontier Institute project gets $25M donation from seafood baron John Risley

Ocean Frontier Institute project headquartered at Dalhousie University also gets $25-million donation from seafood billionaire John Risley.

Launch of Ocean Frontier Institute project announced at Dalhousie University

The new Ocean Frontier Institute research project was announced Sept. 6, 2016, at Dalhousie University. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

A Nova Scotia billionaire has given $25 million to a major ocean research project headquartered at Dalhousie University. 

John Risley's contribution was announced at a news conference at Dalhousie Tuesday morning with Treasury Board president Scott Brison. The federal government will contribute $93.7 million to fund the seven-year Ocean Frontier Institute project. In total, $220 million is being invested.

"Today's announcement will demonstrate to Canadians and to the world that in Canada science is back," Brison said.  "Prime Minister Trudeau committed that as ... a government we would elevate science and evidence-based decision making and we are fulfilling his commitment with action."

The Ocean Frontier Institute will bring together international scientists, students and industry to focus on issues such as climate change, reversing fish species collapse and evaluating the sustainability of aquaculture, the university said.

"What better place for this visionary investment than right here in Atlantic Canada," said Richard Florizone, president of Dalhousie University. "We are entirely up to this challenge."

John Risley went public as the $25-million donor on Tuesday. (CBC)

Dalhousie will act as the headquarters, but will partner with Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador and the University of P.E.I.

Risley co-founded Clearwater Seafoods 40 years ago. He also founded Columbus Communications

"It is enormously important the community appreciate the extent to which the institute has and will bring together so many partners across the Atlantic Canadian scene," Risley said in a statement.

The massive investment is unprecedented in Canada's ocean science sector and was welcome news to research students.

"It means that there will be opportunities for me as I continue my career,"said Ciara Willis, an undergrad student at Dalhousie. "It will mean good opportunities in Canada and especially here in Atlantic Canada, where I would like to stay."

With files from the Canadian Press

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