New data released by the Nova Scotia government on aquaculture production and employment, as well as the value of port-by-port fish purchases by licensed buyers in 2017, shows that Shelburne County leads the province on both fronts.
Shelburne County accounts for almost half of all aquaculture production in the province, producing 5,680,773 kgs worth $57,437,181. In total, aquaculture production in Nova Scotia for 2017 was 13,355,926 kgs with a value of $116,046,956.54. Aquaculture production is conducted in nine of the province’s 18 counties. The data also shows the aquaculture industry employs a total of 535 full and part-time people across the province, including the 101 who are working in the industry in Shelburne County.
Shelburne County-licenced seafood buyers also logged the highest value of seafood purchases in 2017, coming in at $230,315,328, for a total of 24,248,322 kgs of seafood (all species).
As a region, southwestern Nova Scotia (Yarmouth, Digby and Shelburne counties) accounts for almost half ($547.4 million) of the total seafood purchases in the province, valued at $1.8 billion. When it comes to landings, Yarmouth County leads the way, with 60,474,154 kg of seafood landed and sold, valued at $182,525,141. Digby County buyers purchased 13,084,622 kgs in 2017, worth $134,570,494.
“While Southwest Nova Scotia has the highest level of landings and the sector is critical to the economy of that region, the importance of the seafood sector to the rest of coastal and rural Nova Scotia should not be underestimated,” said Leo Muise, executive director of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance. “All areas of the province are benefiting.”
With the exception of Hants County, port by port seafood purchases are recorded for every county in the province. Between the four counties on Cape Breton Island, seafood purchases totalled just over $390.5 million in 2017.
“The provincial data illustrates what a terrific industry the seafood sector is in Nova Scotia,” said Muise. “Not only are the numbers impressive, the benefits are spread throughout the province.”
“Clearly, seafood is the province’s number one export and this new money entering the economy is good for all Nova Scotians,” said Muise. “If you drill down a bit into the numbers you can conclude that the value of shellfish, primarily lobster and snow crab, is driving the value. In ports where there is a higher percentage by weight of finfish landed, the value is often less than that coming from the predominantly shellfish areas. In other words, it appears that shellfish landings have been increasing and so has the price paid for the product.
“All in all, this is a good news story for Nova Scotia. Not just for those directly employed in the industry but also those working in the support industries like boat building, gear suppliers, logistics, finance and government. Going forward, our collective goal should be to push these numbers even higher. The challenge will be one of sustainability and getting the maximum value out of the products we produce. Everyone has a role to play, be it the harvesters, the buyers, the processors, the regulators, or those involved in the logistics of getting the highest quality product to distant markets. The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance members believe strongly that working together works. I think this data illustrates the point. With everyone pulling in the same direction, the sky is the limit.”