Long-term systematic storage of environmental specimens has become an important component of formal environmental monitoring programs in many countries. In 1977, the Contaminants Surveillance Program (CSP) began in the Great Lakes Basin. In support of the CSP, Fisheries and Oceans Canada began archiving fish tissue samples and created the Great Lakes Fisheries Specimen Bank (GLFSB). In 2006, responsibility for the GLFSB was transferred to Environment Canada and it was renamed the National Aquatic Biological Specimen Bank (NABSB). The new name better reflects the current contents and purpose of the specimen bank which now supports Canada's Chemicals Management Plan (CMP). The NABSB employs standardized banking protocols, computerized sample tracking, maintenance of all data and metadata associated with each specimen, and modern storage equipment situated in a dedicated facility at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, Ontario. Since 1977, specimens from the NABSB have contributed to more than 60 scientific publications, reports, and/or book chapters on the status, trends, and bioaccumulation of metals and various organic contaminants such as PCBs, dioxins, furans, and aromatic hydrocarbons, in aquatic ecosystems. Collection and archiving of specimens in the NABSB continues such that the specimen bank currently holds more than 52,000 samples from 18,749 specimens of top predator fish, forage fish, plankton, and other invertebrates collected over 32 years of environmental monitoring in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes and beyond.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2