Gerry Byrne, minister of Fisheries and Land Resources for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gerry Byrne, minister of Newfoundland and Labrador’s new Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, says his department emerged from 2017 with a sharp focus on fisheries, aquaculture, forestry, agriculture, wildlife and lands, to better support economic development, growth and sustainability.

Guided by The Way Forward plan, and the Cabinet Committee on Jobs, Byrne says the department is working to revitalize and develop traditional and emerging industries, on land and on water, that will support and sustain a better future for the province.

“Guided by the vision outlined in The Way Forward, our government is fully committed to managing traditional and emerging industries in a manner that will benefit Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for decades to come,” Byrne says. “The positive response we received during 2017 to our initiatives prove we’re on the right track. We will continue to make the strategic investments required to further develop these sectors.”

Some of the highlights Byrne points to from 2017 include:

  • Growing the aquaculture industry and stimulating private sector employment through a work plan developed in partnership with the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association. Launched last fall during an aquaculture industry summit, the plan will grow salmon production to 50,000 metric tonnes annually, and mussel production to 10,750 metric tonnes. In achieving these targets, the number of year-round jobs supported by aquaculture will more than double, from 1,000 to 2,100.
  • Establishing Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fisheries Advisory Council which is providing advice on maximizing the value of available fish resources to the provincial economy through a collaborative stakeholder approach.
  • Securing the $100 million Atlantic Fisheries Fund, which will strengthen the province’s fishery, protect and grow jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians employed in the seafood sector, and assist with expediting the large-scale, industry-wide transition to groundfish.

Non-fisheries highlights included:

  • Partnering with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture and Food First NL to jointly implement a new Agriculture Sector Work Plan.
  • Increasing efforts to promote and encourage development of agricultural land.
  • Establishing a new Centre for Agriculture and Forestry Development.
  • Combining agriculture and lands management staff.
  • Including Natural Areas Section into the Agriculture and Lands Branch.
  • Successfully negotiating $37 million over five years through the New Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
  • Implementing changes to the provincial Wildlife Act and Regulations, such as lowering the minimum hunting age, expanding the Hunters with a Disability program, and earlier application dates for the big game draw.
  • Protecting, conserving and safeguarding Mistaken Point while promoting it as a world-class tourist destination.