New Brunswick raises oyster production targets
By Matt Jones
The Canadian province of New Brunswick plans to raise annual oyster production by 10 percent under the province’s new shellfish aquaculture development strategy.
The new target represents a total of 30 million oysters annually, $12 million in farm gate sales, and $6.4 million in exports by 2021.
“A lot of times people arrive with cap in hand and say ‘we need money to do this or capital to expand,’” says New Brunswick Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “Instead, we’ve had businesses that arrive and say ‘if there’s a change in policy, a change in direction as to how we can grow it, we can grow this in a very sustainable manner and actually grow the industry.’”
Doucet says while the government set a modest goal of an annual 10-percent increase, the actual growth compounded over a five-year period could be 60 percent or higher.
“As we enable the industry to grow, we could be looking at 15 percent or more per year,” he says. “The results could be 75 to 100 percent and doubling the business in a very short period of time.”
Doucet says the target was established alongside industry and he feels that it should allow the industry to grow significantly while not disrupting supply and demand relationships.
Doucet is aware that, as seen in Newfoundland with the Grieg Seafood project, social licence for aquaculture operations can be a hot-button issue. He’s confident, however, that they can effectively communicate the benefits of the industry.
“Shellfish aquaculture is a green industry,” says Doucet. “It’s certainly good for the marine systems. If you look at the bays that the aquaculture systems have set up, they’re cleaner after they’re done with them because the shellfish are actually a microfilter for the water system. That’s something that’s going to be pushed. There’s definitely economic value to it, but at the same time we want to make sure it’s well balanced with the ecosystem and the environment.”