By Liza Mayer
“When you ask someone in America to picture a farm, they close their eyes and see undulating hills, a setting sun, a red barn,” Maine-based Barton Seaver, renowned chef, author and advocate for sustainable seafood, once said.”
That image “is the thread by which we wove the social fabric of our country–the small American family farm. Ask them to picture a fishery, you get curious looks,” he told delegates at the Seafood West Summit in Campbell River, British Columbia in 2018.
Like many in the industry, Seaver believes something needs to be done about it.
“We need a paradigm shift,” said Mark Lane, executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association. “I equate it with recycling. When I was growing up, it was the beginning of the paradigm shift in the way of thinking about recycling. For my kids, it’s a no-brainer; they don’t think about it, it’s just the way we do things. We want aquaculture to be like that.”
“Children need to know where their food comes from,” said New Brunswick journalist Deborah Irvine Anderson. “More than half of the seafood we eat today comes from aquaculture. Children are often taught about farms on land but not about farms on the ocean.”
This winter, Anderson approached the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association (ACFFA) and pitched the idea of a book to help expose young people to aquaculture. Titled, “The Farm on the Sea,” the book tells the story of a rare blue salmon named Sunny, who guides children through the stages of salmon farming. It is aimed at readers from ages six to eight.
“We loved her idea and her passion for educating children about salmon farming,” says Susan Farquharson, ACFFA’s executive director. “The book is engaging and informative, and our members are proud to partner with the book’s creators on this project and to raise money for local food banks too.”
In Newfoundland, the initiative to spread the word about aquaculture goes even further. Efforts are underway to make aquaculture a standard part of the province’s curriculum in primary, elementary and high school classrooms within the next few years. The industry and the province are working together to ensure young people are aware of the opportunities in the aquaculture industry.
“Once you’re on the farm, you’ll see all these people–you’ll see the captain of a crew boat, you see the farm technician, the farm manager, the nutritionist, the veterinarian. We want to show people the different selection of job opportunities out there,” said Lane.