With four years to go and lots of funding still available, the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been busy raising awareness and interest of the opportunities available under the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF) for innovative projects that improve sustainability, quality and productivity in the harvesting, processing and aquaculture sectors.
“Numerous presentations have been made to processing, harvesting and aquaculture associations, as well as to advisory boards and committees,” said department spokesman Bruce Nunn via email.
Municipal units throughout the province have also been briefed.
Initiated in 2017, the AFF is jointly funded by the federal government and the four Atlantic provinces, with a funding pot of approximately $400 million across the region. Nova Scotia’s share is 30 per cent (between $120 and $130 million). The fund expires March 31, 2024.
Under the fund, contributions less than $100,000 for commercial enterprises are non-repayable.
Nunn said the response the department has been getting at the many information sessions and presentation sessions has been generally receptive, with municipal governments pleased to hear of government’s support for this key economic sector.
“Municipalities tell us that the seafood industry is an important economic contributor to their communities and they appreciate the support the province is providing to the industry,” he said. “Industry participants are increasingly considering how the Atlantic Fisheries Fund can support their businesses and organizations. The interest from industry is obvious as we continue to get requests for information on project eligibility and funding requirements.
Opportunities for funding under the Atlantic Fisheries Fund focus on three areas:
Innovation: developing new products and technologies in the harvesting, aquaculture and processing sectors;
Infrastructure: using new technologies or processes to improve sustainability; and
Science partnerships: collaborating with universities and other research institutions to improve our knowledge and understanding.
Opportunities for funding include projects related to producing quality products to satisfy market demands, long-term sustainability of resources and businesses, addressing labour shortages by improving processes and technologies, incorporating processes and technologies to maintain existing customers, gain new ones, and reach increasing market demands, increased value of fish and seafood products and improved competitiveness in global markets.
In the harvesting sector, automated longlines and sustainable harvesting technology, various onboard handling equipment related to improving the quality of fish when harvested such as live wells for holding lobsters, electronic and new technology adoption for increasing efficiencies and pilot testing alternatives and sustainable harvesting technologies for crab and lobster fisheries are examples of some of the projects that have been approved.
In the processing sector, approved projects have included new technology and state-of-the-art processing equipment to gain efficiencies and automate as well as reduce energy consumption, new technology for live lobster holding and the acquisition of automated live lobster grading systems.
The aquaculture sector has been successful in having funding approved for projects such as automated grading equipment for oysters, productivity and efficiency improvements in grow-out gear for shellfish aquaculture, adoption of new technologies to upgrade grow-out sites and hatcheries for both shellfish and finfish and research on innovative solutions for treatment of sea lice.
In addition to commercial enterprises, non-commercial organizations, Indigenous organizations or groups (other than commercial), industry associations, research and academic institutions and other non-government organizations that support the seafood sector can apply for funding under the AFF for eligible projects.