Could aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try save ru­ral New­found­land

Gov­ern­ment ex­pect­ing to dou­ble the num­ber of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties within the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - News - BY SA­MAN­THA GAR­DINER

PRO­VIN­CIAL, NL — Could aqua­cul­ture be the an­swer to long-term sus­tain­abil­ity in some of New­found­land’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties?

Ac­cord­ing to Grand Falls-Wind­sor-Buchans MHA Al Hawkins there is a bright fu­ture for young peo­ple in this in­dus­try over the com­ing years.

If you are un­sure what aqua­cul­ture is a quick Google search will tell you it is the rear­ing of aquatic an­i­mals or the cul­ti­va­tion of aquatic plants for food. In New­found­land par­tic­u­larly the in­ter­est is in the cul­ti­va­tion of sal­mon and mus­sel farm­ing.

Jobs within this in­dus­try range from highly tech­ni­cal jobs where peo­ple would need a high qual­ity of ex­per­tise in the area and with in­creased pro­duc­tion there will be op­por­tu­ni­ties in pro­cess­ing, “there is a whole gamut of op­por­tu­ni­ties in that in­dus­try,” Hawkins told The Ad­ver­tiser.

The aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try par­tic­u­larly in St. Al­bans and Har­bour Bre­ton has re­ally re­vi­tal­ized that area of the province and there has been sig­nif­i­cant growth, Hawkins ex­plained.

St. Al­bans boasts a state of the art and very so­phis­ti­cated lab­o­ra­tory.

“For the sus­tain­abil­ity of these com­mu­ni­ties we’ve got to look at the op­por­tu­ni­ties and where we can in­crease the work op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to say,” said Hawkins.

In com­mer­cial sal­mon pro­duc­tion the present ca­pac­ity sits some­where around 25,000 met­ric tones, which will in­crease over the next lit­tle while to 50,000 met­ric tones.

“In the next cou­ple of years we’re go­ing to dou­ble that ca­pac­ity,” Hawkins said.

The same growth will hap­pen with mus­sels, right now the num­ber sits some­where around 3,000 met­ric tones, Hawkins said, and that num­ber will grow to 10,750 met­ric tones.

Achiev­ing these tar­gets would mean more than dou­ble the cur­rent num­ber of year­round jobs sup­ported by aqua­cul­ture to ap­prox­i­mately 2,100.

“That is a sig­nif­i­cant growth rate, we’re dou­bling the ca­pac­ity and dou­bling the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing in the in­dus­try,” Hawkins added.

“One of the chal­lenges for me as Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for La­bor and also for Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills is that I’ve got to look at some of the chal­lenges that some of these com­mu­ni­ties are fac­ing in that you know there may be a short­age in work force, so part of my re­spon­si­bil­ity is to make sure that we do have ad­e­quate num­ber of peo­ple that will be able to fill these po­si­tions,” he said. Im­mi­gra­tion is also a part of Hawkins man­date, mean­ing if there is not a suf­fi­cient num­ber of peo­ple to fill the po­si­tions that be­come avail­able the gov­ern­ment will look at im­mi­gra­tion, and there is a strat­egy in place for that, ac­cord­ing to Hawkins.

“We are en­gag­ing peo­ple and we are en­gag­ing young peo­ple and there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for some of our in­ter­na­tional stu­dents that come into New­found­land and Labrador to find em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and to work here and con­trib­ute to our econ­omy as well,” he said.

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