Government of Canada invests in research to study the effects of contaminants on aquatic ecosystems in Central Canada
March 29, 2021
Ottawa, Ontario - The Government of Canada is further investing in research to better inform the protection of our oceans, lakes, rivers and waterways and the many species that call them home. The unfortunate reality is that microplastics and pharmaceuticals enter our water systems due to human activity. This means we must continue to study and understand the threats that our ecosystems face.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $658,026 in funding for contaminants research. This funding supports three research projects to study the biological effects of contaminants on aquatic species.
The University of Toronto received $217,870 over three years to study the ecological impacts of microplastics on fish and their associated food web. With Canadians throwing away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year and only 9% being recycled, this study will help to understand how the microplastics pollution affects aquatic ecosystems.
The IISD Experimental Lakes Area received $220,736 over three years to characterize the effects of exposure to an antipsychotic pharmaceutical on several aquatic species by undertaking a series of experiments that use ecosystem-based enclosures. The University of Waterloo received $219,420 over three years to support a research project that will examine how anti-depressants move in the environment and impact fish.
The Government of Canada will continue to invest in science and research to understand what our lakes, rivers, and waterways need to sustain the countless lifeforms that call them home. When we better understand a problem, we are better equipped to address it. Whether it is studying how contaminants impact the species that Canadians see in our lakes and rivers or their impact on the species we harvest, today’s investment will help collect the data and information needed to keep Canada’s waterways healthy for generations to come.
“Canada’s central and prairies regions are rich with freshwater habitat and species. It is critical that we study and understand all threats, including contaminants, to our aquatic ecosystems to ensure that these bodies of water can continue to sustain the countless resources and livelihoods they generate. Today’s investments will strengthen Canada’s blue economy and ensure it continues to be grounded in science and sustainability.”
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Our government supports evidence-based decision making. By investing in research on the impacts of microplastics and pharmaceuticals that make it into the five Great Lakes in Canada, thousands of smaller lakes, and inland waterways, we are able to better understand and protect the various aquatic species and ecosystems. By supporting research like this, we will build back even better, greener, and consciously more inclusive for future generations.”
The Honourable Baridsh Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth
“Future policies to mitigate microplastics should be informed by science. The support we received from Fisheries and Oceans Canada is critical to enable our ecosystem-based experiments measuring the fate and ecological effects of microplastics. Our work will inform effect thresholds for future risk assessments to protect freshwater fish and their surrounding aquatic ecosystems.”
Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Head of Operations for the U of T Trash Team, University of Toronto
“Antidepressants are a lifeline for millions of people Canada, and as COVID-19 measures have taken their toll on populations, we are seeing prescriptions for those drugs growing. But we need to know more about what happens when these drugs flush through humans into our freshwater lakes, and the impact they may have on our environment. That is why we are spearheading a ground-breaking new project into venlafaxine (a commonly-prescribed antidepressant) at IISD Experimental Lakes Area—the world’s freshwater laboratory—the only place in the world where researchers can experiment long-term on whole lakes to discover the impact of threats and pollutants on whole freshwater systems, from the water chemistry to fish populations.”
Jose Luis Rodriguez Gil, Research Associate, IISD Experimental Lakes Area
“I would like to thank the Government of Canada for its support in addressing the biological effects of contaminants on aquatic organisms and specifically by providing research funding to the University of Waterloo. It is critical for us to examine how pharmaceuticals move in the environment, in particular how they bioaccumulate in fish and cause changes in key biological processes and we are very pleased to have this important project led by Professor Mark Servos, a Canada Research Chair in Water Quality Protection, who has extensive knowledge in the areas of ecotoxicology and integrated water resources management.”
Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International, University of Waterloo
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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