Island solution stops a worldwide fish killer

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Prince Edward Island scientist Dr. Subrata Chowdhury has developed an environmentally safe answer to the chemicals previously used to destroy fish-killing fungus.

Fungal infections kill 160 million tonnes of fish and costs the worldwide aquaculture industry $3.8 billion each year. About 10 per cent of this damage is caused by the common, but particularly nasty, saprolegnia fungus.

As the chief scientist at Charlottetown-based RPS Biologiques Inc., Dr. Chowdhury has developed Saprotect, a plant-based product designed to protect large-scale salmon farming operations.

The ingredients - and the production method - are a trade secret, but Chowdhury says they can be grown on Prince Edward Island. A recent grant from the provincial government’s Ignition Startup Fund will enable RPS Biologiques to complete the final phase of trials and gain regulatory approval from Health Canada.

Dr. Chowdhury, who also sits on the editorial boards of two distinguished European science journals, is setting up a production facility at BioFoodTech.

“The grant was for $25,000, which is helpful, but it is even more important to be recognized for your work,” he said.  “It helps to do business in a small town where you know people. I am very grateful for the support.”

Chowdhury emigrated from New York with his wife Ranjana (also a scientist) with their two children, Soumyadeep and Pragya. He worked at Phyterra Bio and Solarvest PEI Inc. before he took the leap into entrepreneurship. This project is just one of many he is working on. The company offers a variety of services for the aquatic, animal, and human health sectors.

Managing Director Wes MacAleer praised the Ignition Fund for assisting companies like RPS through the costly product development stage.

 "This will enable us to proceed with field trials without further private investment, ultimately allowing RPS to capture more of the product value once we've proven the commercial viability,” said MacAleer. 

Prince Edward Island is the Mighty Island - we may be small, but we make big things happen.
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