Government of Canada and Province of Nova Scotia help Support the Redevelopment of the Oyster Industry in Bras d’Or Lake

DARTMOUTH, NS – Canada’s fisheries are the backbone of many coastal communities and a driving force of the economy. The seafood sector is a rapidly shifting environment – competition is intensifying, consumers are looking for sustainability and quality. That is why the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia (NS) today announced funding support to the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (the Centre) through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF).

On behalf of the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Murray and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso, and the Honourable Steve Craig, Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, announced a total contribution of over $2 million to help the Verschuren Centre with the development of a land-based oyster hatchery. Once open, the hatchery will prepare broodstock and provide healthy seed, followed by facility decontamination of equipment and water, which prevents unnecessary spread of MSX (an oyster parasite) between oyster aquaculture sites.

Funding this project addresses two of the main priorities for oyster growers in Nova Scotia for the past 15 years: finding a way to address concerns and the spread of MSX and a lack of oyster seed. The lab-based process established at the Centre will reduce parasite prevalence and intensity in MSX infected oysters resulting in almost zero mortality. For oyster producers in Cape Breton, on the Bras d’Or Lake, this work is especially welcome as the oyster industry in that area has been devastated by the MSX parasite – at one time Bras d’Or Lake accounted for approximately 80% of oyster landings in Nova Scotia. Healthy, parasite-free oyster larvae from the Centre will allow the once rich oyster industry on the Bras d’Or Lakes to rebuild and return much needed economic stability to the local community.

Funding the Centre will benefit local and regional economies in NS now and in the future. The contribution comes from the $400 million Atlantic Fisheries Fund, jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments, and focuses on increasing opportunities and market value for sustainably sourced, high-quality fish and seafood products from Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic Fisheries Fund is in its fifth year and will continue to invest in projects over the seven-year life of the program.The commercial fisheries and aquaculture industry, Indigenous groups, academia, industry associations and organizations, including research institutions, may apply.Quotes

“The Atlantic Fisheries Fund is enabling innovative ways to harvest, process and deliver high-quality, sustainably sourced fish and seafood from the commercial fisheries and aquaculture sectors. The exciting work happening at the Verschuren Centre is key to the revitalization of a once thriving oyster industry in the Bras d’Or Lake, and a welcome infusion of high-quality oyster into Nova Scotia’s fish and seafood sector.” 

The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“As a proud resident and representative of Cape Breton, I am deeply appreciative of the work that the Verschuren Centre will undertake to help revive a once vital and thriving community-based industry. Gathering together for a meal of fresh seafood – including oysters – is a tradition for many Nova Scotians, and I look forward to the day when Bras d’Or Lake oysters are part of that tradition once again.”                 

Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso

“This investment is a positive step to re-establishing a strong local oyster industry in Cape Breton. It will help the Nova Scotia seafood industry remain safe and sustainable and provide top-quality seafood products to the world. We are excited to join with our federal and industry partners in these important investments.”

The Honourable Steve Craig, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Nova Scotia

“Atlantic Fisheries Fund support for this project will truly deliver community and industry benefits to lease holders in the Bras D’Or Lake Biosphere. The revitalization of this key shellfish sector – through a novel mitigation strategy, seed nursery and hatchery – will enrich this world renowned jewel for all who live, work and depend upon it for their livelihood.”

Beth Mason, President and CEO, Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment