Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner (left) shakes hands with We’koqma’q chief Rod Googoo following the announcement on June 1, 2018 at the We’koqma’q Mi’kmaq School.

DARTMOUTH: Local projects in the seafood and aquaculture sectors received government funding last week.

On April 10, the provincial and federal governments announced funding support to 11 regional organizations through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund. The funding—a total contribution of more than $1.2 million—will see the implementation of innovative projects and new technologies in the fish and seafood sector.

Among the local recipients was the Ceilidh Fishermen’s Co-op Ltd. which was approved for funding to acquire and install new technology to facilitate a more efficient lobster grading process and improve quality control.

The Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association was approved for funding to adopt new processes and certification to permit the Chedabucto Bay Shrimp Trap Fishery to expand into new markets that require Marine Stewardship Council product certification.

Premium Seafoods Ltd. in Arichat will get financial support to purchase new technology for the refurbishment of a fish processing plant to process whelk. The equipment will help improve the effectiveness of its seafood processing.

The contribution derives from the $400 million Atlantic Fisheries Fund, jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments. The federal government will provide 70 per cent of the funding, with 30 per cent coming from the Atlantic provinces.

The final group to receive funding is We’koqma’q First Nation to convert an existing fresh water hatchery to a fresh water re-use facility which would reduce the amount of water needed as well as chemical costs, significantly lower risk from disease, and improve production. The facility would transform from one that is constantly drawing large amounts of water to flow through the tanks and then exit through an outflow.

In a separate announcement, the federal government confirmed on April 10 that it is providing support to We’koqma’q to obtain Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification for its high-value fish farm. BAP certification will help open up new markets, grow operations, and gain efficiencies, ultimately increasing revenues and job opportunities.

This well recognized certification focuses on processing, sustainability, and accountability best practices. The certification process will help the First Nation identify improvements and implement practices and policies that meet BAP standards.

Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner made the announcement in We’koqma’q.

“The We’koqma’q First Nation’s trout farm is a true success story, generating high revenue and providing employment for community members,” Cuzner said. “BAP certification will enable the band to maximize jobs and profits while continuing to move towards a fully integrated business model and foundation for sustainable prosperity.”

The Government of Canada invested $217,687 in this project through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program while the Province of Nova Scotia invested $100,000 through the Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive program.

We’koqma’q First Nation officially took over the fish processing facility in 2015. At the time, it employed eight people. The facility – which now encompasses a hatchery, grow out site and processing plant – employs more than 50 community members.

“Aquaculture represents the most efficient and sustainable way to grow trout to meet the market demands,” said We’koqma’q First Nation Chief Roderick Googoo. “We’koqma’q First Nation is proud to involved. We are market driven and want to be the best by demonstrating to our customers that we are using responsible aquaculture practice to provide a quality product. We are proud of our employees and the great work they do every day to contribute to our success.”