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Some of the halibut were transferred into one of the large existing lobster-holding tanks on the
island, while other smaller fish were put into fibreglass tanks (bottom) specially installed for the
An eight-month initiative is looking to fast-track a new halibut production industry on PEI. Through a joint effort between DFO-AIMAP, PEI’s Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development (PEIDFARD) and several private firms, Halibut PEI aims to determine the feasibility of using off-season lobster-holding facilities for grow-out of Atlantic Halibut fingerlings.
Currently, several PEI lobster holding facilities with access to salt water wells stand unused for up to nine months of the year. Proponents of the initiative believe that land-based grow-out of the valuable fish could comprise a new and profitable way to keep existing infrastructure in full use and staff employed throughout the year. Stable water conditions and minimal renovation expense mean that a new industry could be underway without delay, once it has been demonstrated that the facilities can produce high-quality, market-sized fish in one 8-month growing season.
The study is currently underway at MorningStar Fisheries, a lobster holding facility in Victoria, PEI owned by Ocean Choice International Ltd. Fingerlings were provided by Scotian Halibut from their Clark’s Harbour Hatchery in Nova Scotia. The research team includes Project Manager Jim Dunphy of J. Dunphy Inc., fisheries and aquaculture consultant Bob Johnston, and Dr. Gerald Johnson of the UPEI Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. Jim Dunphy is confident that a new industry is on the horizon: “We are committed to sharing the results of our project with other investors who may be interested in establishing halibut grow-out operations in their facilities. This could create a new aquaculture industry in PEI as well as creating full time jobs in plants where employment has been seasonal up to this time.”
The research grant of $160,000 from DFO’s Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) was part of DFO’s overall $23.5 million commitment to industry R&D over the next five years. The DFO funding was augmented by $40,600 from the PEI Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development and a total of $127, 000 from the participating firms that also included Waterline Ltd. and Viodiaq Inc.
Duration: July ‘08 – Apr ‘09.
Funded by: DFO-AIMAP. Co-funded by: Halibut PEI, Scotian Halibut, Ocean Choice International, Waterline Ltd, Viodiaq Inc., UPEI-AVC, J Dunphy Inc., Robert Johnston Consulting, PEI DFARD
Project team: Jim Dunphy (J Dunphy Inc.), Bob Johnston (Robert Johnston Consulting), Gerald Johnson (UPEI-AVC), Brian Blanchard (Scotian Halibut), Melissa Rommens (Scotian Halibut), Wayne Van Toever (Waterline Ltd.), David Speare (UPEI-AVC), Ocean Choice International
For information contact: Jim Dunphy (902- 892-0953)