BURNT ISLAND – Meeker Management Services, owned by Mike Meeker, has purchased the Burnt Island fingerling grow-out business from Blue Goose.
“It is very exciting for me because it is now my own business. For me it’s a big deal, all decisions are mine; if I screw up, I pay the price,” said Mr. Meeker. “Blue Goose embraced my vision of having a top-quality fingerling grow-out operation on the Island.”
“A lot of time and money went into upgrading this facility and it is now a first-class operation, one I’m very proud of,” said Mr. Meeker.
Purvis Bros. Fisheries owns the property and buildings and has leased the facility to Mr. Meeker. “I have worked with the Purvis-run company as my landlord for the past six years and it has worked out well.”
Mr. Meeker explained that John Deeg and Dean Millsap have transported four loads of small fingerlings to stock the large tanks and additional fingerlings will arrive in the next couple of weeks. These small fingerlings will be grown to 50-100 grams and then stocked in the net pens for further grow-out to market size.
Having a fingerling supply so close to existing fish farms will be beneficial to operations because the cost of transporting fingerlings from Southern Ontario is quite high, said Mr. Meeker. The proximity to farms will also permit operators to stock their cages in early May. “I can grow about one million fingerlings per year at the Burnt Island site to supply Northern Ontario net pen operations. This is only a fraction of what is needed but will help with a guaranteed supply. The next step is to incubate and hatch some eggs on site.”
Bruce Third is working full-time to look after the fish and is “doing a very good job,” said Mr. Meeker, noting that he and other workers will be filling in when extra help is needed. “Counting the fish, grading them for size, doing inventories and loading them on the transfer truck for shipment to the net pens are very busy times. It seems when doing these activities you never have enough help.”
Burnt Island has been the site of growing farmed fish since 1994. Mr. Meeker worked with Coldwater Fisheries to develop the site to grow Arctic char. You will only find rainbow trout there now, however, with those little ones numbering in the thousands.
Mr. Meeker pointed out he is in the process of taking back ownership of the compost business, ensuring that Meeker’s Magic Mix will continue to be available to wholesale and retail customers.
“I’ve been involved in the fish business here on Manitoulin for over 30 years and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. There are definitely no plans for retirement,” he added.