Federal support announced for aquaculture businesses

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Sen. Elizabeth Marshall announced $4 million in loans and grants to aquaculture-related businesses and companies during an news conference at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans building at White Hills Tuesday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Aquaculture operations can be far-reaching, with the potential to offer jobs in several communities at once.

For example, Northern Harvest (through subsidiary Northern Harvest Smolt Ltd.) has a land-based hatchery facility in Stephenville. That feeds young salmon into the floating cages of Northern Harvest operations at Bay D’Espoir, where the fish mature.

And with some newly announced federal funding commitments, Northern Harvest will work to establish salmon-raising sites in Rencontre East.

Between offerings from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), $4 million in grants and loans was announced Tuesday, to help grow aquaculture enterprises in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In addition to Northern Harvest, Allen’s Fisheries, Newfoundland Aqua Services, Gray Aqua Group and Notre Dame Bay Mussel Farms are also named as partial recipients of the funding (see fact box).

Of the $4 million committed in total, $708,500 is being provided under DFO’s Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (announced in 2008), while $3.3 million will be in the form of loans for successful applicants to ACOA’s Business Development Program.

“These kind of programs and this help really kind of moves things along,” Northern Harvest spokesman Larry Ingalls said, when contacted by The Telegram.

While the Northern Harvest group of companies is based in New Brunswick, the $2.3 million it will receive in government support for its Atlantic salmon farming operations will go to expansion work here.

“Basically 100 per cent of the company’s expansion in production in the last three years, it’s all been in Newfoundland,” he said.

Ingalls said there is space available along the coasts of this province. Newfoundland and Labrador, he added, has many large bays and fjords, offering protection for ocean farming infrastructure.

“Our operation more than doubled production in the past year. Without the (government) support, that could not have happened,” he said.

He claimed production by the industry as a whole is “significantly more then it would have been” without federal and provincial government assistance.

The latest federal funding commitments were announced by Sen. Elizabeth Marshall at a media event at DFO’s Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre on East White Hills Road in St. John’s Tuesday. The announcement was made on behalf of Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield and the minister responsible for ACOA, Bernard Valcourt.

Following a tour of the DFO facility, Marshall spoke with reporters, mentioning she had conducted an audit of the aquaculture industry while in the role of provincial auditor general. She served in that role from 1992 to 2002.

“I think that the industry is evolving. I mean, in the early days, there were problems. But of course when a new industry starts up there’s always going to be problems,” she told reporters. “But I can see now, compared to what I saw 15 years ago, that the industry is much more established.”

She said there are more companies and more employees and the industry has undergone a “natural progression” over the years.

According to the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA, naia.ca), there are currently four species farmed sustainably in Newfoundland and Labrador: blue mussels, Atlantic salmon, steelhead trout and Atlantic cod.

The total market value for the aquaculture industry in 2011 was $120 million, up from $118 million the year before.

Meanwhile, the overall value of seafood produced in the province last year has been estimated at just over a billion dollars.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Northern Harvest Smolt Newfoundland Aqua Services Gray Aqua Group Notre Dame Bay Mussel Farms Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Rencontre East.Between, New Brunswick Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre East White Hills Road

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Recent comments

  • jaffa
    May 23, 2012 - 02:21

    Aquaponic systems vary in size from small indoor or outdoor units to large commercial units, using the same technology. The systems usually contain fresh water, but salt water systems are plausible depending on the type of aquatic animal and which plants. Thanks. Regards, aquaculture

  • p earle
    March 23, 2012 - 12:49

    Take a bow Mrs Marshall for throwing Ottawa's crums at our man made fishery , aquaculture, while it is destroying the natural priceless renewable resource god put here. Your doing such an excellent job up there, like all the rest that came from this province, to protect our future...not a word from you with all thats going on from the DFo to change the rules of the fisheries act that will allow business and foreigners to do what they want. Your useless like the rest except for taking your salary and pension when you retire providing you do now what Harper wnats you to do...which is destroy our future fishery while he makes a reservation of our island. Harper and the canadian government will do the same to us here as the US did to the plaines indians in the 1800's. pe

  • Casey
    March 22, 2012 - 18:48

    You got it! It sure looks like NL is getting shafted by Ottawa when it comes to protecting the cod stocks. How many ships are fishing the Nose and Tail of The Grand Banks at this moment. Great Job Ottawa!

  • Townie
    March 21, 2012 - 10:17

    What a lame brain government. They can give $4 Million to a manufactured industry, but they are trying to wipe out the natural resource by neglect. Talk about heads up their asses. Good thoughtful representation in the Senate for sure.