Having contributed $276-million to the economy last year, it was announced at the summit, the plan is to triple commercial salmon production to 50,000 metric tonnes, increase commercial mussel production to 10,750 metric tonnes, increase food self-sufficiency to at least 20 per cent and double person years of employment in the industry from 1,000 to 2,100.
Ball said the aquaculture industry continues to prove itself as a sustainable industry, and the province is doing its part to bring forward initiatives that would see continued development to support jobs in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Our job right now is to work with the industry, follow that investment, encourage that investment and to actually be an investor in cases as well,” he said. “We see seafood as some of the biggest farming opportunities within our province.”
The plan was announced back in May, and through discussion with industry representatives throughout the summer, 28 actions were identified and are expected to be fully operational within the next 20 months.
Some of the actions identified in the aquaculture sector work plan include:
- Responding to the human resource needs of the industry with tailored labour market supports, immigration attraction, and efforts to help make youth aware of opportunities in aquaculture;
- Responding to the capital and infrastructure needs of the industry by adjusting government funding programs and exploring partnership opportunities to develop facilities that strengthen the value chain for mussel and salmon producers;
- Responding to the public awareness and market access needs of the industry by developing a marketing strategy that promotes products and builds public trust;
- Responding to the needs of provincial entrepreneurs by promoting opportunities for aquaculture supply and service companies, which in turn creates new employment and maximizes industry competitiveness; and
- Responding to the public’s need for sustainable aquaculture development by reviewing all provincial policies related to aquaculture, including the provincial Code of Containment and other measures used to promote sustainability, which ensures the province remains a leader in best practices for years to come.
Jennifer Caines, project manager for Northern Harvesters Sea Farms NL, has spent more than 30 years in the aquaculture industry.
The company she works for operates 13 farms throughout the province and employs 160 people. It also supports numerous other jobs through contract work in processing, transportation, diving, cage manufacturing and maintenance.
Caines calls the initiatives brought forward a step in the right direction.
She was particularly interested in the employment strategy and labour market supports, because operations can’t grow unless there’s a workforce to support it.
“We are seeing people come back into the region because those jobs are there. We’ve got employees who came back from Alberta because they no longer want to work away,” she said. “We need more people seeing that, and I think the Labour Market Strategy component will help highlight the diverse opportunities there are.”