Newfoundland initiative aims to grow industry workforce, public support

The farmed salmon sector in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador enjoys enviable public trust with poll conducted during the pandemic showing 71 percent of the province’s population fully support seafood farming, up 56 percent from the previous survey in 2017.

To further engage the public, particularly the youth, the province launched on Wednesday an educational tool designed to help them understand the farming process and the opportunities and benefits aquaculture bring to the province.

Called Aquaculture 101, the fully developed educational course covers aquaculture – finfish and shellfish – but it is skewed largely towards salmon farming.

“One of the challenges of educating people about aquaculture is the fact it’s difficult for people to get a first-hand farm experience – after all, ocean farming is a highly technical, detailed process that is carried out in rural areas, with strict biosecurity protocols in place. Aquaculture 101 changes that using VR technology and resources to give participants a highly detailed, hands-on feel for shellfish and finfish farming in Newfoundland and Labrador,” says NAIA Executive Director Jamie Baker.

The free online course includes teacher resources combined with a series of presentations that cover all aspects of the sector. In addition to the fully immersive, 360-degree virtual farm tours covering finfish and shellfish, there are video based learning modules that also speak to the history of the sector as well as the science and technology employed in ocean farming.

Newfoundland is a growing destination for salmon producers. The public and government support aquaculture enjoys, and its proximity to important markets on the US East Coast arguably compensates for the biological and environmental challenges that salmon producers face.

The province anticipates that salmonid production will exceed 50,000 tonnes by 2024, as industry further develops and expands operations domestically. Mowi, Grieg Seafood and Cooke Aquaculture all have farms in Newfoundland.

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