Finfish Industry fueling the success of rural communities
President of the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Aquaculture Alliance and Owner of Dover Fish Hatchery, Leon Moyaert says, “The PEI Aquaculture Alliance is proud to represent the interests of the finfish sector in the province and recognizes the huge opportunity and economic potential for finfish aquaculture in the Province. We are excited about the bright future of this industry and recognize the significant contribution we are making to rural based economic activity and employment.”
With increasing pressure on wild fish stock, demand for aquaculture products is increasing. With an annual growth rate of 6.6%, the sector is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world. In Prince Edward Island, the finfish industry produces Rainbow Trout, Atlantic Salmon and Halibut as well as Eggs, Fry and Smolt. The estuaries that surround the Island are shallow and not conducive to cage culture due to seasonal temperature extremes, however, the Island’s large quantities of high quality groundwater along with pond cages and land-based tank systems allowed PEI finfish producers to generate more than $2.2 million in economic value last year and employ near 30 people.
Island hatchery operations export much of their disease-free production stock to other Atlantic provinces to allow different finfish aquaculture businesses in the region to grow healthy finfish to market size. Atlantic Sea Smolt located in the community of Rollo Bay is one of those hatchery facilities that grows salmon smolt. This Broodstock operation is where the salmon farming cycle begins. Atlantic Sea Smolt’s own Broodstock (as well as from Dover Fish Hatchery) spawn the eggs and milt for the next generation. These “young fry” are raised in a fresh water Aquifer Well system where they spend approximately 18 months until they reach the smoltification stage, which means they have gone through a metabolic process that will allow them to migrate from freshwater to seawater as part of their lifecycle. As they prepare to adapt to their new environment these smolts change from a greenish-blue to a silvery color, meaning they are ready to be moved to saltwater sea sites located in Nova Scotia. There, they will grow for another 16 – 18 months until they are market ready. A strong and evolving regulatory system controls the transfer of these finfish (and other shellfish), as well as fish health sampling and testing. The PEI aquaculture industry works collaboratively with all levels of government on making these regulations, as well as those impacting leasing and food safety, as fair and effective as possible.
After more than 30 years of salmon farming in Galway City, Ireland, Joe McElwee moved to Prince Edward Island where he has been managing 12 full-time and 3 part-time staff at the Atlantic Sea Smolt operation for the past three years. Joe explained, “Over the past few years, we have invested heavily in the facility and systems to improve the welfare of our stocks and expand our growing capacity. Over the next number of months, we anticipate further investments and improvements that will enhance our capabilities and continue to add additional job opportunities in rural PEI”. Joe McElwee also noted, “Each and every employee at Atlantic Sea Smolt is hired from the local community, contributing to the economic impact in the Eastern Kings area.
Atlantic Sea Smolt’s continued growth in smolt production is required to supply Snow Island Salmon Inc in Nova Scotia. This Canadian farming operation is majority owned by leading Scottish salmon producer, Loch Duart Ltd. which has a worldwide reputation for quality and taste based on a farming methodology that prioritizes the welfare of the fish and rest for the environment, bringing a proven, ethical approach to farming and stewardship. The end result is the highest quality salmon that North American consumers are looking for.
Canada’s Aquaculture industry creates approximately $4 Billion in economic activity, $1 billion in GDP and over $500 million in job creation and labor income. Prince Edward Island is very pro-aquaculture, has room for growth and is supported by federal and provincial governments. Currently the PEI Finfish Producers consist of six growers predominantly located in the eastern & central part of the province (Cardigan, Fortune, Souris, Dover, Brookvale, and Victoria). They include Aquabounty, Atlantic Sea Smolt, Cardigan Hatchery, Dover Fish Hatchery, Halibut PEI and Ocean Trout Farms. The PEI Aquaculture Alliance believes in helping rural PEI communities thrive and grow through investment in innovative, competitive and sustainable primary sectors that capitalize on the tourism lure that Aquaculture / Fisheries generates.
Ann Worth, Executive Director
PEI Aquaculture Alliance
Tel: +1 902 6266506