St. Andrews, N.B. – Atlantic Canada’s salmon farming industry has the expertise and experience to ignite this region’s economy and create much-needed jobs for coastal communities, New Brunswick’s new Minister of Aquaculture told ACFFA annual dinner guests this week.
Rick Doucet, who was sworn in last month as New Brunswick’s Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, was guest speaker at the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association’s (ACFFA) annual fall conference this week in St. Andrews. The Minister said salmon farming is already one of this region’s biggest economic drivers, employing over 3,000 people in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia alone and generating $356 million to those provincial economies.
Doucet said salmon farmers have built a strong industry over the past 30 years, becoming an economic backbone, especially in Charlotte County where salmon farming creates 1,600 jobs alone.
“On behalf of the province of New Brunswick, I would like to thank you sincerely for the jobs and the GDP that you have brought to the table. Your industry helps pay for our roads, helps pay for our schools, helps pay for our hospitals. You help pay for a way of life for many of us,” said Doucet. “I don’t know if historically, you have ever had somebody stand up and thank you for what you are doing for this province, but from what I have seen over the past 12 years as being your elected member, I want to thank you, because I am pretty proud of what you do.”
Larry Ingalls, ACFFA Board Chair and CEO of Northern Harvest Sea Farms, said this region should be proud of what our family-owned salmon farming companies have accomplished on the world stage.
“Few people have any idea that the Atlantic industry is led by two privately-owned, Charlotte County family businesses. We produce upwards of 50 per cent of all the salmon in North America,” said Ingalls. “We’ve done that while facing stiff competition from publicly-owned, multinational companies. It’s something we should be proud of.”
Minister Doucet, who also serves as New Brunswick’s Minister of Economic Development, said in his speech that the province needs to get serious about promoting a business-friendly atmosphere and that he plans to take steps to streamline government decision-making processes, reduce red tape and cut fees for small businesses. He pledged to work together with industry to create an atmosphere that promotes stability and growth and to assist the industry in getting its products to the rest of the world.
“We are going to work hard and work together to tap into your industry’s economic potential, because it’s there. It’s on our doorstep,” said Doucet.
Ingalls said 2014 was a solid year for salmon farmers, with stable market prices, strong production and few fish health issues. He said salmon consumption is slated to increase around the world.
“The outlook for 2015-16 is bright for our industry. It will give us a chance to strengthen our position in the world, which is very important for companies like ours that are competing in a global industry,” said Ingalls.
Approximately 120 salmon farmers, industry stakeholders, scientists, researchers, provincial and federal government representatives, and community members attended the ACFFA’s fall conference held in conjunction with its AGM. The conference was launched with a presentation from Ruth Salmon, Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance who reviewed a recent study on Social Licence and the Aquaculture Industry in Canada.
“The research suggests that even in the face of a very small but vocal group of activists, aquaculture companies in Canada have achieved, and continue to maintain, high levels of support with their communities,” said Salmon. “In addition the demand for the quality salmon and other seafood products continues to rise.”
Workshop participants also heard presentations on an award-winning collaborative partnership that relies on the expertise of salmon farmers to help recover wild salmon stocks; the latest innovations in net technology, climate change, ocean acidification, sea lice trends and eco-system based management of fish farming.
The ACFFA 2014 Year in Review can be found here.
The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) is an industry-funded association working on behalf of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia salmon farming industry in addition to a wide range of service and supply companies and organizations. Salmon farming employs over 3000 people in our region and has a value of over $330 million to provincial economies.
For more information, please contact:
Pamela Parker, Executive Director