Aquaculture in the Coast of Bays Region, Newfoundland & Labrador
Voice over (Jennifer Caines) (0:43)
“Little things make big differences to small communities.”
Jennifer Woodward (Cooke Aquaculture) (OO:50)
Growing up in Newfoundland, I grew up in a fishing family. The history of Newfoundland is so bound in the fishery and when, in the 1990s the downturn happened, Newfoundland was in dire straights economically. At that time, I was graduating from aquaculture and I looked at aquaculture as a means of conservation. We knew we had problems with the capture fishery, so what are we going to do? People still need to eat healthy food and people are directed to eat fish by their physicians. How do we produce that in an environmentally sustainable manner? Aquaculture, to me, was a fit. But, at that time, I had to leave Newfoundland to work in the aquaculture industry.
Steward May (1:25)
We went from rock-bottom. Our community [Belleoram] one time was, I suppose, one of the communities that had the highest rate of unemployment and the highest rate of social services in Newfoundland.
Conrad Collier (1:40)
We were essentially a single industry town without an industry. We had some very good enterprising entrepreneurs who had the idea of exploring aquaculture.
Steward May (1:53)
Since Cooke Aquaculture come, that has changed. We have gone 75% up the ladder and things are improving. You can see that with a new wharf being constructed here. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. [pan of wharf].
Specifically in Belleoram, the industry has created something like 50 jobs. The majority of them come from Belleoram, but [from] all around the Coast of Bays. Let me give you an example of a person that Cooke has hired that was on social services. It was the first time he received some income. We he got his first pay, it was by direct deposit. People never heard-tell of direct deposit before. After they had paid the bills, his wife said, “Look, we’ve got $100 left in our account. We’ve never had this before.” And then, the next pay period, they had another extra $100. He had two daughters who had passed their Grade 12 a couple of years ago and all of a sudden they said, “We’re going off to college now,” so he had some confidence to send them to college.
Jennifer Woodland (3:09)
So now, to come back to live in Harbour Breton, where five years ago their plant had closed down, the major employer of the town had vacated and none of these people had an opportunity to work, to now see that fish plant re-open and re-vitalized processing aquaculture product and to see these people back at work to be able to return home as a highly educated Newfoundlander to not just a job, but a career in the Coast of Bays, I mean this is just invaluable.
Jennifer Caines (3:32)
Not only are there well educated, trained people coming back, but we are also bringing new people into the region. Because those services are there and because we are gradually developing it, they consider it as a lifestyle. It’s not a remote location here with no services type-of-thing. It’s something that people are willing to come to, to live in, and be part of the community. That’s a big thing, too.
Miranda Pryor (3:59)
There‘s been a tremendous change [in the Coast of Bays Region]. The communities down here have really benefited from aquaculture. [They] have seen everything from people returning to the communities, to new houses being built, to new businesses coming in, and to just real prosperity and a real feeling of “we are actually making a go with this industry and this Region and that we can do it here”. [The aquaculture industry] has brought really good feelings to the Region.
Jennifer Caines (4:23)
I think aquaculture has not presented an alternative, but complementary job creation and wealth creation, so economics is one [benefit]. Very important, I think also, are the fact that people are working, so that helps a sense of community and people feeling productive. There’s activity going on here; there are people going back and forth between the two little stores, there are people on the wharf, there are boats coming and going, and there are trucks going [back and forth]. There is a different feel, and you do feel it when you go into any of these communities whether it’s St. Alban’s, Mill Town, and Harbour Breton now as a good example of really being revived again. So, that’s real.
Jennifer Woodland (5:10)
Specifically, for this region, I feel opportunities unlimited in the development of aquaculture. Right now, we are still in the infancy stages of aquaculture and yet, we are seeing so much economic diversity being brought in. As we get more expertise, such as Cooke Aquaculture and global companies bringing their expertise in, coupling that with the communities of Newfoundland who have the rural experience as well as the cold water experience. The development of aquaculture and making it work with our unique challenges is going to be unlimited. So we are seeing just the beginning, right now, some of the benefits of aquaculture to the Coast of Bays Region.
[Inset: In 2009, Coast of Bays operations produced 13,625 tonnes with a value over $90 million.]
Jennifer Caines (5:44)
We have two processing plants right now that are processing aquaculture fish. The processing plant we contract out in St. Alban’s is probably one of the busiest processing plants in all of Newfoundland and it has been for the past six years.
[5:50 pan of St. Alban’s fish processing plant]
And that’s affected some people – people don’t realize how busy that is. It’s not a plant that shuts down after 14 weeks; it’s not seasonal; it’s year-round employment.
Steward May (6:08)
For the aquaculture industry in the Coast of Bays, right now you are looking about at five to seven [thousand] metric tonnes (salmon & trout) that’s being landed [annually in the Coast of Bays Region].
[inset: In 2009, there were approximately 80 finfish and 4 shellfish sites licensed in the Coast of Bays Region.]
In four to five years, you are looking at 50,000 metric tonnes. And, as the industry grows, so is the Coast of Bays going to grow. It’s going to bring people in for the jobs because everybody will have a job here which is excellent.
[Inset: Aquaculture in the Coast of Bays Region created 655 direct, full-time jobs.]
Not only is this with aquaculture directly, there’s in-direct jobs. There is transportation, we need transportation trucking, we need people with small-engine repair, these and hydraulics. These are the types of things you are going to see over the next few years.
[Inset: Aquaculture in the Coast of Bays Region created additional employment in the supply and service sectors.]
Miranda Pryor (7:00)
Many of these communities were set up based on the traditional fishery, so having aquaculture move in is great, but it’s created a lot of challenges with the fact that that we are using wharves that weren’t meant for us, and we are using infrastructure that really wasn’t build for our industries. So, it’s some challenges but we are learning to overcome those.
Jennifer Woodland (7:18)
Some of the challenges that lie ahead are in the fact that right now we don’t have a lot of those service industries that supply the aquaculture sector because we are just building that right now. As well, we do need to come up with a better regulatory frame to match what we have to deal with here in the uniqueness of Newfoundland: its cold water temperatures, when we can harvest, how we get to the sites and, the siting criteria for some of the sites. We have been developing, through the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, some committees with government to take on these challenges now that the production level of aquaculture is improving and going up.
Jennifer Caines (7:52)
We’re also fairly isolated from the rest of the province. I mean your three hours from an airport and your two hours down a long, lonely road and…there is a price to be paid for being so far away. But, when you look at it, look how close we are to the eastern seaboard of the United States where the main market is. The opportunities for us are to produce and to develop our markets as a fresh product into the market place. We are close compared to Europe to the north-east United States; we are close compared to Chile; and, we are close compared to other regions in the world. And, we do have a history of trade, especially in fish products, between Newfoundland and the whole Atlantic Canada region and the eastern US where, obviously, the bulk of population is to absorb that market. So, we may think we are far away, but in actual fact, in terms of the global picture, we are very close. Our challenge is to find better ways to get the product to the market place in a timely fashion.
Miranda Pryor (8:57)
We have hurricane wind events that will come up in the Fall, we have harsh winter conditions and storm events that [operators] have to deal with and so [we need] a lot of innovation into anchorage, cage design, mesh sizes and that sort of thing. Everything to hatchery design in the province, and the need for hatchery design, and our net cleaning services need to be improved and there is a lot of work being done on that right now. Waste management, [is a consideration] as well, and how we recycle as much as we can. Being such a rural area and a remote province, recycling is very important in the province so how do we recycle a lot of materials from the aquaculture industry [is a challenge].
And then on the mussel side, a lot of innovation [goes] into how we grow our mussels and deal with the Arctic ice. We grow a lot [of mussels] inshore, so we are looking at growing out a bit deeper and perhaps offshore areas, but that presents a lot of challenges as well.
Clyde Collier (9:55)
I would like to see more production of smolt nearby as opposed to bringing it in from other regions for bio-security reasons, just to have the economics of that [activity] taking place in the region would give us a better fish to work with and a better stock rather than travelling these long distances with production. [pan of St. Alban’s hatchery]. Then, there are just general problems with bio-security that I see that just come from a lack of, what I call, common infrastructure, wharves and those sorts of things.
[pan of sign that reads Construction of Aquaculture Inflow Wharf, Hermitage, NL]
Jamie Kendell, (10:42)
Well, in the next ten years, hopefully before the next ten years, a lot of infrastructure has to be put in place. And with us here, at Newfoundland Aqua Service Ltd., we have to make sure we get on land cleaning nets and maybe move towards using a biofoulant - you know, get away from the copper towards something that is more organic and just innovative ways to keeping nets clean and keeping the industry going.
Jennifer Woodland (11:05)
Some of the innovation I’d like to see is probably species diversification. Right now, we are farming cod, which is a new species to be farmed in Newfoundland in the open ocean, as well as steelhead trout and salmon. It may be an opportunity for Newfoundland to look at Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture or potentially different species that are more cold water tolerant. I would like to see some innovation toward some species diversification so we have more product diversification as well.
Miranda Pryor (11:35)
In the Coast of Bays, we have tremendous potential still with the finfish side of things. Of course, we have some shellfish farming here as well.
[view of Inset 2: a map of the Coast of Bays that shows the finfish and shellfish sites] Source: “Seafood Industry: Year in Review” Newfoundland and Labrador, 2009, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
The Atlantic salmon, steelhead trout, and now we are venturing into Atlantic cod. Our waters are colder, their deeper waters, but very clean and a tremendous amount of coastline yet to be explored so it’s really hard to say how far we can go, but we are going to test it and we are going to see how far we can go.
Conrad Collier (12:02)
Right now, as I said, we are at about 10,000 metric tonnes. The estimated capacity for our region is about 40,000 metric tonnes. So, simple math tells us we are at about one-quarter of the way there.
Miranda Pryor (12:16)
I think probably the only thing I’d like to add to anyone that watches this is, if they are ever interested in coming to Newfoundland and viewing our beautiful province, they are certainly welcome. I think that people have misperceptions about how can they farm here because we’re so cold, they’re so far North and there is so much ice. I think that once people come here and see what we have and see what we have to offer, it’s a real eye-opener for people so I just welcome them to Newfoundland (laughter).
Special thanks to (in alphabetical order):
Northern Harvest Sea Farms
Gray Aqua Group Limited
Coast of Bays Corporation
Newfoundland Aqua Service Limited
Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Alliance
Camera and Sound
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Graphics and Statistics
“Seafood Industry: Year in Review” Newfoundland and Labrador, 2009, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Alliance
Finish with Government of Canada logo (13:40)