— October 27, 2023 —

Dr. Steve Backman Earns 2023 Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award

ACFFA Raises $2,200 for Salmon Research Award

Dr. Steven Backman – the “grandfather” of fish health veterinary medicine in Atlantic Canada and a passionate supporter of sustainable aquaculture – is recipient of the 2023 Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award.

Approximately 130 salmon farmers, industry stakeholders, scientists, researchers, provincial and federal government representatives, and aquaculture professionals participated in the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association’s Annual Science, Research and Technology Forum this week in St. Andrews, NB where the award was presented to Dr. Backman.

“Dr. Steven Backman’s contributions to Atlantic Canada’s aquaculture sector are unparalleled,” said David Seeley, Secretary/Treasurer of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers’ Association (ACFFA). “His leadership in the areas of fish health and feed innovation have been crucial to the evolution and continued sustainable growth of our sector.”

Dr. Backman is affectionately known as the “Grampy” fish health veterinary medicine in Atlantic Canada because when he moved to New Brunswick in 1988, he was the first and only private sector veterinarian in the area who had specialized training in fish health medicine. He comes from families of both dairy farmers and fishermen, so choosing aquaculture as a career seemed natural to him. Dr. Backman was drawn to aquaculture as a young boy after watching famed conservationist Jacques Cousteau on television. Cousteau believed farming the ocean could protect the wild stocks in the sea as well as vastly supplement the world’s food supply.

Dr. Backman began his aquaculture career as a Research and Extension Officer at the Ontario Veterinary College in a collaborative program with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food to assist tobacco farmers transition to more sustainable crops through the adoption of land-based aquaculture. In 1988, he returned to Atlantic Canada to head up the Veterinary Services Office for Moore-Clark Canada, a division of BP Nutrition. At the time, salmon farming was just getting established, and farmers had access only to a large animal veterinarian and two provincial biology assistants to answer any fish health questions.

Steve holds a Diploma in Agriculture from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree and Diploma in Anatomical Pathology from the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario. He is a USDA accredited veterinarian and is licensed in several jurisdictions; he also serves as IACUC Veterinarian for the USDA ARC in Maine. He is the Charter President of the Canadian Association of Aquatic Veterinarians and Charter Secretary of the Eastern Association of Aquaculture Veterinarians. He just marked this 35th anniversary working at Skretting, where his current role is Product Manager for North America. In his off time, Dr. Backman enjoys working at his Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) operation, Magellan Aqua Farms Inc., in Bocabec Bay and St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

“Dr. Backman’s wealth of knowledge and passion for aquaculture is legendary. He is always willing to share his expertise and enthusiasm for fish health and feed innovation with anyone who wants to learn,” said Seeley. “He is truly deserving of this recognition for his substantial contributions to this sector.”

ACFFA established the Atlantic Canada Aquaculture Award in 2017. The award honours an industry professional who has dedicated 25 years or more in the areas of science, environment, and technology in support of the sustainable development of salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada. Previous recipients include Gary Taylor (Skretting); Alan Donkin (Northeast Nutrition); Leighanne Hawkins (Cooke Inc.); Betty House (ACFFA Science and Technology Coordinator) and Stan McGrattan (Cooke Inc.).

“I have to thank the industry and everyone in this room. This industry is an amazing industry,” said Backman. “We do so much for Canada. We supply food and do it in the most sustainable way. If you take salmon off the plate and replace it with any other protein source, you are dramatically increasing the carbon footprint of that meal. As an industry we are innovative, we are passionate about what we do, and we are extremely conservation-minded in terms of the environment and our footprint. You deserve – as farmers and support people – recognition for that.”

A Charity Casino held during the Gala dinner raised $2,200 for the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association Salmon Research Award, established in honour of Betty House whose passion for and dedication to salmon in Atlantic Canada was marked by her 20+ year career in the salmon aquaculture industry and her role in the Inner Bay of Fundy Salmon Recovery Project. ACFFA will present the grant in 2024 to a post-secondary student who is making contributions to research in fish health, innovation, genetics, and/or technologies that contribute to Atlantic salmon rearing, stocking or conservation.

ACFFA is an industry-funded association working on behalf of Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming industry in addition to a wide range of service and supply companies and organizations. Salmon farming employs over 8,000 people in our region and has a total economic output of $2 billion annually in Atlantic Canada.

For more information, please contact:
Susan Farquharson, Executive Director
Ph: 506-755-3526
Email: info@atlanticfishfarmers.com

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