© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Ruth Salmon, centre, executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, was the guest speaker Friday at the P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance’s annual general meeting. She spoke about the need to strengthen the industry across Canada. Looking over the agenda with her are Ann Worth, executive director of the P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance, and Gary Rogers, an Island mussel grower.
Ruth Salmon speaks about opportunities to make national industry as strong as P.E.I.’s
The executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance wants to see things as strong across the country as they are on P.E.I.
Ruth Salmon was the guest speaker at the P.E.I Aquaculture Alliance’s annual general meeting in Cornwall on Friday.
“We’re trying to get politicians to understand the importance (of the industry). Canada has a missed opportunity here,’’ Salmon told The Guardian in an interview following her address.
“Even though things are going well in P.E.I. . . . we’ve flatlined over the last 13 years as a country.’’
She means that production has stalled while competitors around the globe have zipped past Canada in attempts to respond to the demand for seafood.
“It means jobs and opportunities for rural communities. We could be doing so much more.’’
Salmon said consumers aren’t eating enough, with research showing people eat, on average, seafood two to three times per month when they should be eating it twice a week, according to Canada’s food guide.
“We’re trying to work on that legislative, regulatory piece so that companies feel comfortable investing in Canada. We’ve got the business certainty, we know there is a vision for aquaculture.’’
Salmon said her alliance says Canada needs a federal aquaculture act. Currently, the industry falls under the Fisheries Act.
“We work under the Fisheries Act which doesn’t even say the word aquaculture. It was designed for conserving and protecting our wild resource, and that’s critical, but it really doesn’t help guide or inform our industry.
“There are a lot of regulations that are complex and overlapping because we have, in Canada, a mixed jurisdiction (with) municipal, provincial and federal (levels). In a lot of cases growers (and) producers have had to do things twice to satisfy two different levels of government.’’
Salmon praised the work of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, saying she truly believes the Island MP knows industry needs well.
“They’ve got regulatory reform as their priority so we really are in alignment that these things need to be fixed.’’
P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley says the industry in the province is growing stronger.
“Oyster landings have increased in value to almost $8 million, with 30 per cent of the harvest coming from aquaculture . . . (and) we are landing 50 million pounds of mussels a year,’’ MacKinley said.
“It is very impressive that a small province like P.E.I. ranks third in the
country for the volume of food produced by aquaculture.’’
The province increased its financial support to the aquaculture industry by $75,000 and supported projects like oyster promotions, training sessions on media communications for alliance members and the oyster conference in Mill River last fall.
Ann Worth, executive director of the P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance, said the local industry is full of good news stories — from Halibut P.E.I. which announced a 20,000-square-foot expansion to its facility in Victoria to recent equipment innovation in mussel socking and product grading championed by Stewart Mussel Farms.
“Aquaculture is doing so well in our province. We have had a really strong year in our industry. It’s important that we say that out loud,’’ Worth said.