Province Announces Seafood Accelerator Program
Nova Scotia seafood companies will be able to improve current products, create new ones and look at new export markets through a new Seafood Accelerator Program.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell announced the new program June 25, which represents an investment of $570,000 over two years.
The program will be managed by Perennia, Nova Scotia’s development agency supporting sustainability and competitiveness in the province’s agriculture and seafood sectors.
“Helping our producers bring their new and innovative ideas to life can make all the difference in creating growth and jobs in our rural communities,” said Colwell. “These investments will help industry find opportunities to bring new products to market and increase the value of our seafood industry.”
The Seafood Accelerator Program will be broken down into three areas:
Seafood Market Access Food Safety program: up to $15,000 to help seafood companies take the Global Food Safety Initiative certification to enter and expand in new export markets.
Technical Obstacles initiative: $55,000 per year to help companies produce samples, improve packaging, extend shelf life and address other barriers.
New Product Creator initiative: $55,000 per year to help companies develop new products and prototypes.
“Member companies of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance are highly dependent on the sale of our world class products to other countries and to other regions of Canada,” said Leo Muise, executive director, Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance. “This new initiative can help Nova Scotia seafood processors obtain additional value out of the resource.”
Nova Scotia remains Canada’s seafood export leader with more than $2 billion in exports — 29 per cent of Canada’s total seafood exports. The province’s seafood exports have more than doubled since 2012 when they stood at $922 million.
“More export markets are requiring seafood companies to have rigorous food safety programs and the demand for innovative seafood products continues to rise,” said Noel Despres, vice chair, Perennia board of directors.
“Through this program and with Perennia’s guidance, Nova Scotia seafood companies will become better innovators, better marketers and will continue to supply our top-rated seafood products.”
Is Sustainable Aquaculture Lost in Translation?
According to researchers from Dalhousie University, there is virtually no evidence to support decades-long narratives about the sustainability of finfish aquaculture in Canada.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Marine Policy, examined the progress Canada has made towards translating sustainable aquaculture policy goals into measurable outcomes. It describes 11 potential environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators identified by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in 2012 to advance the sustainable development of aquaculture in Canada.
“DFO reports on industry’s compliance with environmental regulations as an indicator of the sustainability of aquaculture,” says Inka Milewski, a research associate in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie and the lead author for the study.
“This approach assumes that current regulations are sufficient to cover the wide range of potential impacts fish farms can have on other species and the ecosystem, and that simply reporting the results of benthic monitoring, drug and pesticide use or dead fish are measures of environmental impacts or sustainability.”
In 2015, the new federal aquaculture activity regulations came into effect, which makes it mandatory for marine finish operators in Canada to report drug and pesticide use. In 2017, marine finfish farms reported using 14.4 mt of antibiotics and 439 mt of hydrogen peroxide pesticides.
According to Milewski, these numbers tell regulators and the public nothing about the potential sub-lethal, cumulative, and far-field impacts of serial exposure to antibiotics and pesticides on non-target species.
The study also used the result of more than 10 years of research focused on a single fish farm in Port Mouton Bay, Nova Scotia, to examine how Canada’s national policy goals for sustainable aquaculture played out at the community level.