Marine Biotechnology North America summary

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Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

Canada published its first National biotechnology strategy in 1983 and renewed it in 1998. Genome Canada was founded in 2000 as ‘a catalyst for developing and applying genomic sciences that create economic wealth and social benefit ‘. The USA announced in 2011 a National Bioeconomy Blueprint. Neither country has a specific marine biotechnology strategy, plan or policy. The Canadian marine strategy of 2002 and Healthy Oceans Initiative of 2007 contain some elements that might be relevant but the overall focus is on sustainability and integrated approaches to oceans.

Research funding schemes and programmes

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a strong programme in aquatic biotechnology and genomics and the National Research Council supports the Institute for Marine Biosciences in Nova Scotia. Genome Canada, through its regional activity in British Columbia, is a partner in the international Salmon Genome project and has other fisheries and environmental activities that are relevant for marine biotechnology. Québec supports the Marine Biotechnology Research Centre in Rimouski, which is an industry-facing development organization. In the USA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy and Department of Defense support aspects of marine biotechnology, the last 2 focusing strongly on algal biofuels. NSF was the main supporter of the enormous Microbial Observatories programme, and NOAA has 3 relevant programmes, national Sea Grant, Ocean Explorer and National Undersea Research.

Research priorities

Although there is effort on biodiscovery and 0ther aspects of marine biotechnology, including molecular aquaculture in Canada (salmon) and Atlantic Coast of USA (shellfish), the picture is heavily skewed by Dept of Energy and Dept of Defense support for algal biofuels, and private investment in algal biorefineries. There are individual units and centres with a strong marine biotechnology focus (Harbor Branch, Scripps, Bigelow and Maryland spring to mind). Most recently, the state of North Carolina has established a Marine Biotechnology Center of Innovation as part of its economic development plan.

Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities/initiatives

There are some regional initiatives (ArcticNet in Canada, GulfBase in the USA for example) but the most important US-stimulated contribution to international support for marine biotechnology has been the Census of Marine Life (CoML). Canada is also involved in the OECD marine biotechnology initiative.


This draft summary is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not aim nor claim to be complete or final, but should be considered as a dynamic and living information resource that will be elaborated, updated and improved as more information becomes available, including further inputs from experts and stakeholders.

The information on this page is based on information initially compiled by Meredith Lloyd-Evans (BioBridge) as part of the CSA MarineBiotech Project activities (2011-2013).