Aquaculture bio-security needs top $24M

Rob Antle
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Hedderson stresses funds allocated to tackle issue

A government-commissioned report has identified more than $24 million in infrastructure improvements needed to address bio-security concerns in the aquaculture industry.

Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson says the province has targeted $10 million over the next two years to address the most pressing issues.

A vessel passes in front of cages at an aquaculture operation near Belleoram, on the south coast, in this 2007 photo. A government-commissioned report has identified more than $24 million in infrastructure improvements required for the local industry. - P

A government-commissioned report has identified more than $24 million in infrastructure improvements needed to address bio-security concerns in the aquaculture industry.

Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson says the province has targeted $10 million over the next two years to address the most pressing issues.

Half of that funding is federal. It was originally announced in the March provincial budget, and reannounced in the legislature last week. Most of it will be spent in the 2010 fiscal year.

The issue is "high on our list of priorities," Hedderson said in an interview.

Clarenville-based Rutter Hinz Inc. submitted its report on the issue to the government in March.

The study looked at seven communities currently servicing the industry - Pool's Cove, Belleoram, Harbour Breton, Hermitage, Conne River, Milltown and St. Alban's.

Among the consultant's findings:

additional marine infrastructure is needed in all ports to address bio-security issues;

those include clean "inflow" wharves for aquaculture use, outdoor laydown areas for storing equipment, and additional "outflow" wharves to relieve traffic congestion and user conflicts;

a lack of storage facilities to accommodate fish feed.

"At present, aquaculture operators in the region typically have to share docking, loading and off-loading facilities with multiple other users and industries," the consultant wrote.

"This has resulted in congestion in many areas and increased potential for cross-contamination between sites and industries."

Hedderson said the province will tackle the highest-priority issues first. The consultant ranked the projects in order of need.

The first round will see work on wharves in Hermitage, Pool's Cove, Belleoram/St. Jacques and Harbour Breton.

Hedderson stressed that the province takes the bio-security issue seriously.

"We've got the regulations in place. We've got the inspections in place. Now we need the infrastructure to fully support us in where we need to be."

A lack of proper infrastructure has been a long-standing concern for the aquaculture industry on Newfound-land's south coast.

In 2007, the Coast of Bays Corp. wrote then-provincial fisheries minister Tom Rideout to press for dedicated funding for bio-security infrastructure, saying it could take more than two decades to carry out necessary upgrades.

"If we are to avoid the (infectious salmon anemia) and provide a bio-secure environment, we simply do not have that kind of time," said the April 2007 letter, obtained last year by The Telegram under access to information laws.

At the time, Rideout downplayed the possibility of new infrastructure funding.

"There must be a concerted effort between all users of existing wharves to implement bio-security protocols to mitigate health concerns," Rideout wrote in 2007. "This effort must continue in the absence of new infrastructure."

Earlier this year, Auditor General John Noseworthy criticized the government for dragging its feet on aquaculture industry needs.

Noseworthy findings, outlined in a January 2009 report, "identified a number of issues that, although known by the department, have not been addressed in a timely manner."

Those issues included infrastructure.

According to the auditor general's report, aquaculture was a $38.5-million industry for the province in 2007.

Some $30 million of that total was attributed to the salmonid sector.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Rutter Hinz, Bays, The Telegram

Geographic location: Belleoram, Harbour Breton, Conne River Milltown

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments