St. John’s, NL— Senator Fabian Manning, Government of Canada and the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, along with Mike Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Cooke Aquaculture, have announced a C$8.5 million project to develop a cod aquaculture demonstration farm in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"I am pleased to be in Newfoundland and Labrador today on behalf of the Government of Canada to announce the federal government’s contribution to this valuable project," said Senator Manning. "This project continues to place the province as a leader in the diversification of the Canadian aquaculture industry. And, when we invest in our aquaculture industry, we are investing in improved conservation, sustainable jobs, and opportunity for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for years to come."
"Truly this is a cutting edge project that will assist our aquaculture industry in moving to the next level with cod aquaculture"
Honourable Tom Hedderson
The Government of Canada is committing C$1.5 million to the project: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is contributing C$1 million under the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program; and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is investing C$500,000. ACOA’s investment of C$500,000 is being provided through the Business Development Program, which is designed to help clients set up, expand or modernize their business. In Budget 2008 the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture allocated C$2 million over four years to assist with the development of a cod demonstration farm.
A federal, provincial and industry committee worked together for over a year to carry out extensive analysis on cod demonstration farms. They reviewed existing literature, visited cod demonstration sites in Norway, and engaged scientific and financial advisors. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador then conducted a request for proposals process seeking an industry partner, resulting in Cooke Aquaculture being chosen as the successful applicant.
"Our government is pleased to be able to contribute to this extremely important aquaculture project to both the province and the country," said the Honourable Tom Hedderson. "Truly this is a cutting edge project that will assist our aquaculture industry in moving to the next level with cod aquaculture. We look forward to working with our partners in the industry to make this happen, as we recognize that aquaculture growth and development is extremely important to rural areas of the province. We are very pleased with the growth that we have seen in the provincial industry in the last three years and we look forward to further growth through cod aquaculture."
The main purpose of this project is to develop a commercial scale cod farm in the Coast of Bays region with a hatchery/nursery in Belleoram. It has been successfully demonstrated that cod can be grown from egg to market size in the waters of Newfoundland, and this larger scale operation will demonstrate the viability and feasibility of a commercial cod farm.
Cooke Aquaculture plans to stock 200-250,000 juveniles in year one and 400,000 cod annually for year two and three. The first year-class of fish will be harvested in year four. It is anticipated that further year-classes of cod will be stocked in subsequent years as the business continues to grow.
“Our company has already made a significant investment in the development of cod aquaculture in Atlantic Canada,” said Chief Operating Officer, Mike Cooke. “Our Alternate Species team has acquired considerable expertise and experience in this relatively new endeavor and our sales team has created a real interest in high quality fresh farmed cod in the marketplace. We are extremely pleased to be able to partner with both levels of government on this demonstration farm and look forward to working with them in bringing the region’s cod farming sector to full commercialization.”
In addition to successfully bringing commercial quantities of cod to market, this project will also provide an opportunity to train students and workers in the area of cod farming, as well as providing an opportunity for further research and development to occur.
Seventeen new jobs will result from the cod demonstration project, in addition to a number of other employment opportunities in the processing, production and other supply and service sectors.