Photo above: More than 400 fishing industry harvesters, processors and representatives gathered in Halifax on Feb. 22 and 23 for the 20th annual Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister’s Conference, which also attracted 40 exhibitors to the accompanying trade show. Kathy Johnson photo.
More than 400 fishing industry harvesters, processors and representatives gathered in Halifax on Feb. 22 and 23 for the 20th annual Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister’s Conference, Wealth through Quality.
Nova Scotia seafood exports grew to $2 billion in 2017, up from $1.8 billion in 2016; export numbers never seen in Nova Scotia before from any industry, said Minister Keith Colwell in his welcome address. “For the third year in a row, Nova Scotia is Canada’s number one exporter of seafood. Thanks to the hard work of industry, and our focus on innovation and quality, the seafood industry is helping to build a secure economic future for our coastal and rural communities.”
Lobster was once again the top export in 2017 at $947 million, followed by crab at $314 million, scallops at $144 million and shrimp at $126 million.
The United States remains the largest market for exports at $955 million, with China in second place at $387 million and the European Union in third at $207 million.
“We all want to see the value of Nova Scotia seafoods to continue to grow,” said Minister Colwell.
“To do that we need to focus on an approach to quality, building our brand and also adding value to our Nova Scotia seafood products… I challenge all of us to look at ways to keep the industry going. Its important we really work together. That makes a difference.”
A number of Nova Scotia industry leaders were recognized at the conference with Minister of Excellence Awards, presented to those “who demonstrated their ability to achieve the highest standards,” said Minister Colwell.
“You’re showing us the way to grow and add value to the fish and seafood industry.” Recipients included North Bay Fishermen’s Co-op, Victoria Cooperative Fisheries Ltd., IMO Foods Ltd., Louisburg Seafoods and long-time industry representative Dick Stewart.
Entitled Wealth through Quality, the conference focused on sustainable growth of the industry through continuous improvement of techniques and equipment.
Conference topic agena items included:
- Supply chain management
- Brand development
- Media strategy
- The Atlantic Fisheries Fund
- The West River Acid Mitigation project in eastern Nova Scotia, which has become the largest liming project in North American history
- Perennia, the not-for-profit corporation with a mission to help Nova Scotia farmers, fishermen and food processors in field services, quality and food safety and product development and commercialization.
- Keynote speakers Ross Hodge, executive officer, Australia’s Southern Rock Lobster Ltd. and John Sanson, CEO of Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association, gave an outline of Australia’s Clean Green Program, a lobster supply chain management strategy.
The Australian program was developed by industry in the late 1990s to address a number of issues facing industry including work health and safety, environmental impacts of fishing operations and food safety and quality.
The Clean Green Program is owned and managed by industry and covers vessel safety management systems, onboard occupational health and safety, food safety and quality handling practices, animal welfare and environmental and sustainability management. The program addresses vessel safety management systems and work health and safety legislative requirements and is amended and updated regularly through consultation with regulators.
The objectives of the program focus on:
- Best practices to minimize and/or eliminate the risk of any hazards associated with their vessel and fishing operation.
- Value from participation by having a program that provides training and support materials that enables harvesters to meet vessel and workplace legislative safety requirements and also ensure they deliver a high-quality product to their buyers.
- Minimum non-conformances when independent auditing is undertaken because the participant has been appropriately trained, knows how to apply the support material and produce all the required documentation to eliminate the need for Corrective Action Request follow-ups.
- Best practice recognition for participating fishing vessels operators from fellow stakeholders and the wider community for setting and achieving high standards in safe vessel operations and practices; ensuring a safe and quality product and responsible fishing practices.
- What it delivers is hazard identification and risk assessment, recognition from regulators, reduction in insurance premiums, good track record for safe vessel operation and a live, healthy, quality product demanding a premium price.