“I’m confident the investments will help the aquaculture and fisheries sectors to become even more sustainable and environmentally friendly” - Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries.

Investments in aquaculture and wild fisheries to drive Canada’s ocean economy

“I’m confident the investments will help the aquaculture and fisheries sectors to become even more sustainable and environmentally friendly” – Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries.

By Fabian Dawson

Canada’s ambition to grow the seafood sector by 2035 to $25 billion will largely be driven by sustainable aquaculture and wild fisheries, states Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC), an agency that is dedicated to drive the growth of the country’s ocean economy.

Emerging markets such as seaweed and fish alternatives, including circular economy solutions from the ocean, will also contribute to this growth, stated the agency as it launched its 2024 Sustainable Seafood Call for Proposals yesterday.

The Sustainable Seafood 2024 call will support innovations across a broad range of sector operations and deliver new value creation opportunities for Canada’s seafood sector, said The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) in a joint statement.

According to the OSC, this initiative aims to not only streamline operations but also to introduce new seafood species to the market and support seafood processing in Canada.

The integration of cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies can revolutionize the preservation, processing, and traceability of seafood, signaling a new era of digital transformation in the supply chain,” the OSC stated.

“Such advancements are poised to unlock unprecedented value, driving prosperity, sustainability, and security within Canada’s seafood industry.”

The deadline for proposed solutions that are aligned with the goals of Ambition 2035 to drive Canada’s ocean economy, is April 16, 2024.

Ambition 2035 was informed by the Blue Economy joint vision by FCC and CAIA which aspires Canada to be in the top 3 best quality and sustainable seafood producers list by 2040.

Both FCC and CAIA are highlighting the innovation efforts in their respective sub-sectors. FCC published its Innovation Storyboard last fall while CAIA has recently hosted innovation showcases in Ottawa featuring emerging technologies in salmon farming.

“This call will advance innovations like those highlighted in our recent Innovation Storyboard. We have the longest coastline in the world. We have among the brightest minds. Now the Supercluster has a program focused on putting the two together,” said FCC President, Paul Lansbergen.

Timothy Kennedy, CAIA President & CEO said Canadian aquaculture companies have for a long time been investing in enhancing their processes, to world-leading levels.

“This call for proposals will encourage the development and adoption of new innovations that will continuously improve environmental performance while growing jobs, improving Canada’s food security, and ensuring healthy communities,” he said.

Currently in Canada, commercial fisheries and aquaculture generate $4.5 billion annually in gross domestic product and provide thousands of good middle class jobs, many in Indigenous, rural and coastal communities.

To date, the Ocean Supercluster has approved more than 90 projects with a total value of more than $400 million which will deliver more than 200 new made-in-Canada ocean products, processes, and services to sell to the world.

Its latest call for proposals comes as U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is urging countries to increase aquaculture production to fight global hunger and undernourishment.

The UN food agency said it hopes to see 35% growth in the sector by 2030 as part of the FAO’s “Blue Transformation” road map, which seeks to change the world’s aquatic food systems by the start of the next decade.

In its country profile on Canada, FAO states there is potential for significant increases in Canadian aquaculture production to hike domestic supplies and create export opportunities.

Meanwhile, Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, has announced over $3.5 million in funding for 18 initiatives under the Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program (FACTAP).

This federal funding supports small and medium-sized businesses in their efforts to adopt and incorporate innovative, clean technologies in their business operations.

The program also includes funding to pilot test late-stage innovations or process technologies in Canada’s aquaculture sector.

“Our government is giving our aquaculture producers, harvesters, and processors, as well as commercial fishers the tools they need to implement more environmentally efficient practices, and invest in cutting-edge techniques and technologies,” said Minister Lebouthillier.

“From coast to coast to coast, I’m confident the investments will help the aquaculture and fisheries sectors to become even more sustainable and environmentally friendly,” she said.

(Screengrab from a YouTube video shows Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries.)