Helping store lobster longer to create a better market was the focus of an announcement April 23 at Ballantynes Cove, Antigonish County.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser announced that a little more than $734,000 was going towards the North Bay Fishermen’s Co-op to support their work “installing a 100,000-pound lobster holding system, with state-of-the-art technology to chill the water for long-term storage.”
“This will enable the co-op to extend its season, hire more people, explore export opportunities and sell more lobster to locals and tourists,” a release to accompany the announcement read.
The funding is coming through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), which is providing a $450,000 repayable contribution through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program; as well as $284,260 from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and province in conditionally repayable support, through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.
Co-op general manager Paul van de Wiel is quoted in the release.
“North Bay Fishermen’s Co-op is excited to be installing technology that will enable us to store our gulf lobster through our season and for several months after,” van de Wiel said.
“It will allow us to market our lobster when there are few or no lobster being fished in Canada. Our new storage facility will be capable of holding lobster throughout the year, better utilizing our equipment and providing more employment in the off season.”
Talking after the announcement, van de Wiel noted the opportunity to pursue a new facility was started as soon as possible.
“As early as we could do it; there is a bit to the application process, so we had to go through that,” he said of the funding.
“When roads open,” he said as far as the timing of the work. “So early to mid-May and we expect to be constructing through the summer and, hopefully, late-summer we’ll have it completed.”
Van de Wiel talked more about the problem of moving lobster in late-May and early-June when there is already a lot of product available.
“Most of the bays are open, which means we just have to find a home for them. Some people sell them for cost; with very little margin they’re selling them. But if we could just put them away and hold them; if we can hold them even for a month, we could make extra money.
“This will allow us to hold them for two, three, up to six months … when the market conditions are good, then we can move them.”
He also talked about the new storage facility opening up the export market.
“Part of the regulation for export is you need chill storage, so we weren’t able to directly export them ourselves,” he said. “This will allow us to export from Ballantynes Cove to markets around the world.”
He said work to install the new system will take place at an existing facility at the cove, and talked more, in his speech during the announcement, about how the system will work.
“Our water here in the gulf area is warmer than what they have where they store in southwest Nova Scotia; they store a lot of lobster … the water is a lot cooler,” he said. “So for us, the issue was, how do we store lobster efficiently so our cost in chilling that water doesn’t get so high.
“Luckily, Joe Boudreau of BioNovations has a system where the water is recycled 100 per cent, it’s a closed loop system. So the water is cooled, it goes through the system, it get filtered and goes right back over the lobster. So we cool the water once, filter it, and efficiency is improved by about 40 per cent; that’s what we expect to see as improved efficiency with this new system.”
Efficiency Nova Scotia, represented at the announcement by Sarah Chiasson, is investing $29,000 in the work; $14,000 for a feasibility study and $15,000 as an implementation incentive.
Fraser also noted the contribution of local company BioNovations.
“The company who is providing the technology this investment is going towards, is also a local, with a world-leading technology,” he said.
Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey described the union as “Antigonishers coming together and finding solutions to help Antigonishers.”
“And supporting our economy,” Delorey added.
Fraser said it was a “terrific day.”
“Paul [van de Wiel] hit the nose on the head; investments into key strategic industries like the fishery don’t just help put people to work, they help keep rural communities alive,” he said.
“To know we’re sustaining jobs in rural communities, that’s the whole reason I became involved in this business [politics] to begin with. To see today’s investment contributing to that is very rewarding.”
North Bay Fishermen’s Co-op fact box:
· North Bay Fishermen’s Co-op has been operating seasonally since 1935, buying lobster, along with other fish including herring, mackerel, halibut and tuna, from harvesters in Antigonish and Pictou counties. Lobster represents about 85 per cent of its sales and is sold live to exporters and processors within the Maritimes.
· North Bay Fishermen’s Co-op currently has 28 members. The project will help maintain 10 positions, add one new full-time employee and create up to six seasonal positions in this rural area.
· The co-op currently has short-term storage for 60,000 pounds of lobster in Ballantynes Cove. The new project will bring the company’s total storage capacity to 160,000 pounds.
· This year, the lobster season in the area will operate from April 29 to June 29, with some exceptions.