After huge losses of Atlantic farmed salmon to ISA and storm-related escapees in 2013, the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA) initiated a series of consultations with industry stakeholders. The intent of the consultations was to hear what they had to say about preparation of a new strategic vision for 2014-2015.
In face-to-face meetings and through questionnaires on the DFA website, 122 participants provided input on the priorities for the private and public sectors if the aquaculture industry is to remain sustainable while continuing to increase production.
In order to facilitate responses, DGA named four strategic areas for the consultations: (1) sustainable management including animal health and waste solutions; (2) support capacity including loans, training, and policy/regulations; (3) infrastructure like roads and wharves; and (4) research and development.
The online participants reiterated familiar concerns: disease, escapes and waste management options. They called on government to ensure that industry is following best practices for site selection, biosecurity, and environment protection and to be open to the development of land-based, closed containment facilities. The face-to-face participants echoed the same concerns and requested the development, implementation, and enforcement of a bay management plan and biosecurity regulations for both the finfish and shellfish sectors.
The salmon sector felt strongly that the industry needs a better communications-public relations strategy with government and industry input. They also requested more public awareness of the financial support programs – provincial and federal – available to the companies. Other items raised included the recruitment and retention of skilled workers as the industry expands, the inefficiencies in getting live mussels to market, and the need for a review of some aspects of industry governance.
Arguing that infrastructure requirements need to be addressed before further development to ensure sustainability, the respondents identified the need for more wharves (inflow and outflow), roads, and improved telecommunications (cell phone signals are not available in many areas).
Research and Development
The participants requested more research in three areas especially: in bay management development, in disease risk management, and in aquatic invasive species control and mitigation. These three, however, are among a list of many other topics suggested for further R & D.
After receiving input from the various stakeholders, the role of the provincial DFA is to develop a new aquaculture strategic plan for release in 2014-2015. It is intended to be a plan to guide the industry as it evolves and expands on the South Coast of Newfoundland and to mitigate the factors which caused two of the major players to lose hundreds of thousands of salmon in 2013.
– Wesley Harris
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