Ontario gives $72K in aquaculture market expansion undertaking

LACLOCHE ISLAND— Blue Goose Aquaculture’s North Wind Fisheries cage culture site hosted an unusually large contingent of visiting dignitaries and provincial civil servants Arthur Potts, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food Food and Rural Affairs stopped by to tour the facility and announce $72,000 in grants to support two market expansion projects that will help the growing Ontario aquaculture industry make inroads into the important US market.

Mr. Potts was introduced to the podium set up in front of staffs bearing the Ontario provincial and Canadian flags flapping in a stiff breeze at the ramp leading to the fish farm cages.

“Few jurisdictions can match Canada’s and specifically Ontario’s natural advantages when it comes to fish farming,” said Karen Tracey, executive director of the Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association, “an enormous coastal geography, an abundance of cold, clean water, a favourable climate, a rich fishery tradition, established trade partners and a commitment to protect our environment.”

Ms. Tracey went on to assert that Ontario aquaculture operations have “set the gold standard in environmental protection. We have embraced a balanced approach that puts fresh affordable and healthy food on the table with common sense, sustainable solutions that are good for generations to come.”

The aquaculture advocate went on to say that “families deserve peace of mind when shopping for environmentally friendly alternatives at their local grocery stores, and Ontario fish farmers know that we can grow our sector to meet current and future demands while respecting and protecting our shared water resources.”

Ms. Tracey introduced Mr. Potts as not only the parliamentary assistant to Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal and the MPP for Beaches-East York, but also as someone who “has a passion for the environment and sustainable solutions,” a family man with two daughters and as an avid recreational diver. “You are in luck, you have come to some of the world’s most beautiful diving waters, which also happen to be perfect for growing fish.”

Mr. Potts opened by thanking Ms. Tracey for her introduction and exclaiming his pleasure to be with the group “in such a beautiful setting. Manitoulin is fantastic all year round,” he said, “but I particularly enjoy it in the summer.”

The parliamentary assistant gave recognition to being on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabek, and said he was pleased to learn of the cooperation and partnerships that have been formed in the fish farming industry with local First Nations.

“Our government is committed to helping our businesses expand and seize new opportunities,” he said. “To find new ways to expand your business, you have to know how you can meet that need.”

Mr. Potts thanked Blue Goose Aquaculture manager Mike Meeker for hosting the announcement at the North Wind site.

“Today I am proud to announce that Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association will receive over $27,000 in funding from Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative to support two very important market expansion projects.”

The parliamentary assistant went on to say that the announced funding will help NOAA members better understand market opportunities for Ontario’s freshwater rainbow trout across borders. “With this funding, the NOAA will be able to help all of their 45 producers and business operators like Mike (Meeker) learn how to become export ready.”

The Growing Forward 2 funding will in particular assist Ontario fish farmers to successfully export into priority markets like the US. “There is a great opportunity for expansion of the freshwater rainbow trout industry,” said Mr. Potts. “I want to commend the NOAA for the work they are doing to help their member farmers make the most of those opportunities.”

Mr. Potts and his entourage had toured the North Wind site prior to making the funding announcement, then travelled to downtown Little Current to see the product being shipped before setting out for a tour of the Buzwah fishery in Wikwemikong.

After lunch at the Island Jar in downtown Little Current, Mr. Potts noted that he was looking forward to having a chance to go diving in local waters. “Tomorrow is a day off,” he said, explaining that he would be staying at a friend’s cottage in the area and taking Mr. Meeker up on the opportunity to dive in local waters.