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DFO funds projects to analyze contaminant damage to ecosystems

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada has announced nearly $2.9 million to support nine research projects that will analyze the effects of contaminants like microplastics, oil, pesticides and pharmaceuticals on aquatic species.

The four-year program funding will support contaminant research at schools such as L’Université du Québec à Rimouski, University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, McGill University, and Simon Fraser University.

“Canada is well-positioned to be a world leader in the emerging blue economy,” announced Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a statement. “We are home to the world’s longest coastline, three oceans, and thousands of lakes. It is therefore 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,” added Jordan.

In one of the projects, researchers at the University of Waterloo will examine how antidepressants accumulate in fish and cause changes in key biological processes. They will assess the effects from upgraded municipal wastewater effluents that meet current regulations.

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In a similar vein, researchers at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area in Balmertown, Ontario, will use ecosystem-based enclosures to investigate the ecological effects of the psychoactive drug venlafaxine in freshwater ecosystems.

At the University of Toronto, a new project seeks to test the ecological impacts of microplastics on fish and their associated food web in a series of experiments using ecosystem-based enclosures.

Not-for-profit Ocean Wise, as well as McGill University, will also study microplastics and examine the thresholds for negative impacts of microplastic textile fibres in the food web.

Simon Fraser University researchers intend to study several factors that affect how contaminants related to oil spills impact Pacific marine species, including oysters, sea urchins and herring.

“Today’s investments will strengthen Canada’s blue economy and ensure all our decisions continue to be grounded in science and sustainability,” said Jordan.

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