Project Title:

Early Norovirus Detection Tool

Project Organization:

BC Center for Aquatic Health Sciences

Project Investment:

  • Island Coastal Economic Trust: $10,000
  • Applicant's Equity: $5,000
  • North Island College: $1,800
  • BC Shellfish Growers Association: $5,000
  • Total Budget: $21,800

Project Highlight:

Baynes Sound produces more than half of BC's farmed shellfish.

Baynes Sound is the primary shellfish growing area in BC. However, outbreaks in Norovirus (NoV) linked to BC oysters has presented a challenge to the coastal shellfish sector in recent years, resulting in the closure for local harvesters and $9.1 million in lost sales from rejected and unsold product.

In partnership with the BC Ministry of Agriculture, North Island College and the BC Shellfish Growers Association, the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences Association developed a cost-effective diagnostic test for shellfish harvesters to detect Norovirus in BC oysters. The project involved testing and optimization of a molecular assay, and development of a biosurveillance program to identify the source of contamination in oyster tissue and seawater at the earliest stages.

Completed in 2019, the project will eventually enable shellfish harvesters to implement mitigation strategies before NoV becomes widespread. Anticipated outcomes include reduced risk and increased returns to shellfish producers and protection of the reputation of BC’s shellfish industry.

Island Coastal Economic Trust approved funding for this project in 2019 through the Capital and Innovation program.