Atlantic Canada's aquaculture leaders converge on New England

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Starting this Sunday, the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia together with the PEI Aquaculture Alliance will lead a delegation on a mission to the region to learn more about how the industry in America is set up to continue to farm in the presence of disease.

Aquaculture News

[HALIFAX, NS] - This Sunday, the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia (AANS) together with the PEI Aquaculture Alliance (PEIAA), will lead a delegation of 15 industry members, researchers and government officials on a week-long mission to New England to learn more about how the US industry is set up to continue to farm in the presence of disease.

“Atlantic Canada has become very well-known for the wide array of delicious oysters available throughout the region,” says Bruce Hancock, executive director, AANS. “In Nova Scotia, our oyster industry was severely cut down by the presence of disease, but we know the potential is there to grow it again. We have the right locations. We have the expertise. We know the tools are out there. We need government to work with industry to allow us to access the tools that are out there to revitalize our oyster industry and protect the producers we still have operating.”

In 2002, an oyster disease known as MSX appeared in the Bras d’Or Lakes, Cape Breton, completely flatlining the oyster industry. The removal of the Bras d’Or Lakes from oyster production has resulted in an 80 per cent reduction of oyster productivity in Nova Scotia. In August of 2012, MSX was detected in Aspy Bay, wiping our nearly 90 per cent of the oyster stocks being farmed by Alex & Susan Dunphy, the only producer in that bay.

MSX disease has no effect on humans, but is deadly to oysters. Other areas affected by the disease have found ways to continue their oyster industry. The states along the Eastern Seaboard use a non-reproducing, disease tolerant seed that can grow faster and reach market size before the disease can kill the oysters. There, government and industry have found ways to work together to make this a possibility. This mission aims to look at how that relationship, policies and regulations work to create a successful industry in the presence of disease in hopes that can inform government and industry in Atlantic Canada.

“Aquatic disease is an area of increasing concern for the PEI aquaculture industry,” says Ann Worth, executive director, PEIAA. “Traditionally, PEI waters have been considered disease-free and keeping them that way is a high priority for our world class oyster industry. One way we accomplish this is through education and being proactive in better understanding MSX and other potential disease threats. Our cultured oyster industry has developed multiple brands and markets around the world built on our excellence in shellfish farming practices. This mission is a proactive, partnered activity that will facilitate new knowledge and strengthen our sector for continued future success."

The mission includes stops in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island with site visits to farms and tours of research facilities. The delegation will also host two networking sessions aimed at bringing together industry, researchers and government officials — one in Maine and one in Massachusetts.

The AANS and PEIAA support responsible aquaculture development in their respective provinces. They work collaboratively to support Atlantic Canadian farmers in the development and growth of the aquaculture industry. Both organizations and this mission received funding support through the National Research Council of Canada - Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). Support for the mission has also been provided by the Consulate General of Canada in Boston.

Organizations: Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, PEI Aquaculture Alliance, National Research Council of Canada NRC-IRAP

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia, New England US Cape Breton Aspy Bay Eastern Seaboard Maine Massachusetts Rhode Island Boston

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