Rencontre East may not have been ready to embrace the aquaculture industry several years ago, but residents are now welcoming the industry with open arms.
In late May, Northern Harvest Sea Farms placed two million smolts in 53 cages at three grow-out sites near Rencontre. Twenty-three residents of the community are now working full-time raising those smolts and they’ll be ready for processing in the fall of 2012.
Doug Caines, the general manager of Northern Harvest Sea Farms (NHSF) in Newfoundland, said the employees are doing an excellent job and will be an important part of the company’s future in the area.
New lease on life
The aquaculture industry has revived spirits in a number of communities in the Coast of Bays.
Tom Caines, the mayor of Rencontre, said aquaculture has given his community a new lease on life.
“We realized that this industry could play a big part in helping us to survive as a community,” he said.
“We contacted officials with NHSF in 2010 and said we were ready to get in the game. Aquaculture is here to stay and we wanted to be a part of the picture.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Caines added, “this industry, this work has lifted spirits in the community. I see it in men going to work with their lunch cans and returning in the evenings — everyone is upbeat and happy — it’s excellent.
“What’s really great about all of this new work is that some young people are coming back to the community while others are not going to Alberta to work as they did before. About six vacant homes have been bought up and two new houses are being built here now.”
Chuck Foote is one of those younger residents who decided to work in the aquaculture industry instead of going to Alberta as he has done in the past 10 years.
“For the past 10 years I spent about 11 months each year working in Alberta while my family was home in Rencontre,” Foote said.
“I’m building a house here now for my family as I feel this aquaculture industry will be a big part of the future for Rencontre and the (Coast of Bays). Going to Alberta was fine, but I want to spend more time with my family and be a part of the community.
“The future looks good, and I’m glad to be back in Rencontre.”
Lance Bolt also said he wanted to be back in Rencontre to be with his family.
“I’ve been working in Alberta for about 11 months of every year for the past six years,” Bolt said.
“It’s not easy working away from your three children and worrying about them at home. With the traditional fishery almost being a thing of the past, I feel that the future for aquaculture looks really good in this area. I feel positive about it, and at least it’s steady work with a steady paycheque coming in.
“While the money may not be the same as I made in Alberta, the tradeoff in being with my family more than offsets that. I’m glad to be with my family and in being a part of this community.
“It’s great, too, in seeing lights in the community going on as opposed to going off.”