Small University, Big Splash: How the Université Sainte-Anne is improving the Nova Scotia lobster industry


Rural regions of Nova Scotia are facing pressing challenges like labour shortages and climate change. As a response to these concerns from local industry, Springboard’s newest and more rural member, the Université Sainte-Anne, is expanding its research capacity to meet the needs of local communities, most of which are linked to fisheries.

Over the past decade, Sainte-Anne has taken on several initiatives to help improve this lucrative Atlantic Canadian industry.

In 2010, Sainte-Anne opened its Marine Research Centre at its Petit-de-Grat satellite campus in Cape Breton. The Centre has since been focusing on applied research and development initiatives with a myriad of companies in commercial fisheries and aquaculture. These projects involve various species such as snow crab, sea scallop, whelk, Northern shrimp, and, primarily, lobster.

The centre, which is dedicated to ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of the fisheries, works in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Together they developed a series of best practices for the lobster industry, as it was observed that a large percentage of lobsters weren’t surviving throughout the several steps of the supply chain.

This initiative led to the first Lobster Handling Course, which was launched in 2016. These training sessions were well-received by the lobster industry and two complementary courses were subsequently developed; the latest of which will be offered February 2020.

Quality assurance is an important component within the live lobster industry. To ensure Atlantic Canadian lobster handlers uphold the market’s high-standards, Université Sainte-Anne created thorough guidelines specifically designed for lobster suppliers and exporters.

The Live Lobster Quality Certification Program, which was developed in 2018, is a third-party auditing process under the Nova Scotia Seafood brand. This is a marketing tool initiated by the Province and used by the industry to distinguish high quality seafood products. The program has been designed to promote and guarantee that high- quality lobsters sold on the market. With this program, it is expected that Nova Scotia lobster companies will become more competitive on the global market.

Building on the work carried out at the Marine Research Centre, Sainte-Anne is continuing to expand its fundamental research capacity by developing a new Lobster Quality Laboratory for Excellence at its main Church Point campus, at the heart of the province’s fishing industry.

The project, which received $2.5M in funding as part of the Building Tomorrow Fund from the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, includes the implementation of new research infrastructures and equipment and hire a lobster biology professor and technical support staff. This research team will examine the stresses that adult lobsters face throughout the supply chain and come up with new innovations to improve the overall health of the animal during shipment.

“Université Sainte-Anne’s lobster-related research has seen increased visibility and recognition in both the industry and government, thanks to the support of ACOA and Springboard Atlantic,” writes Valerie Lalande (Agente de liaison avec l'industrie, Université Sainte-Anne). “Sainte-Anne continues developing new and innovative projects in the live lobster sector, as it’s a key socio-economic pillar for local communities across Nova Scotia.”

  • Supported By:
  • Canada
  • ACOA
  • Springboard Members