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  • New opportunities to untap region’s potential: Sustainable Northern Coastal Communities regional engagement sessions continue

    Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    News Releases
    Melanie Callahan

    Dr. Jose Lam, professor of entrepreneurship in the business administration program and Dr.  Lakshman Galagedara, hydrologist with the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative, have been conducting a feasibility study on innovative and value-added dried fish and aquatic products for domestic and international markets.

    Some of the research surronds: food security issues, goal of doubling local food production, ways to find new food sources and innovation in products coming out of rural Newfoundland.

    Salt fish has traditionally been a low-value product and we need a more diverse product, the researchers say, including products that could be both harvested and processed in the area.

    There is a need to determine commercial viability of innovative and value-added dried fish and other aquatic products, the research said. The innovation comes from finding new products and the niche market for these products.

    The group was presented a case study from a rural town in northwestern Norway. Twelve fish plants, in a town of 1,700 people, employ 20% of the population. The success comes from the long standing connections to the marketplace.

    Participants posed the following questions: How can we find the niche market? Can we look at companies that only employ a few people rather than big corporations? Can we look at different products, like smoked seafood for example?

     “The key is to have the market,” said Sam Elliott, St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. “We have to meet the specs of the industry and to have a Newfoundland-wide brand. We have the quality, we just need a unified brand that would help us in the market to differentiate ourselves.”

    Experiential tourism

    Exapanded food production also allows for new opportunities in the toruism industry.

    “We are looking at experiential tourism industry but we are bound by fishing regulations,” said Andre Myers, mayor of Bird Cove and representative of the Viking Trial Tourism Association. “Now, some fisherman can sell from their boat. Some are having lobster boil-ups on the beach. There are gaps, but these are also opportunities.”

    Shanna Pilgrim, owner of the Mayflower Inn and Adventures, is looking to expand their operations to include a salted-fish tourism experience.

    “My father is a retired fisherman; we could use father’s old stage to show how we salt fish here. Tourists can watch how it is processed. We are looking at vacuum packing the salt fish and sell the products to the tourists. We can sell buy the single serve meal, cook it themselves and have the whole experience.”

    Innovation doesn’t always mean creating new products; it's creative thinking, said Mark Tierney, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

     “Innovation doesn’t always mean reinvented the product, it’s also about reinventing the market, the packaging, and things like that,” said Mr. Tierney. “With social media, Facebook specifically, internet branding is much more accessible and affordable, and easy to execute.”

    New trade agreements may unleash potential

    Graduate student Jack Daly, Department of Geography, presented his research on the Impacts of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) on Sustainability on Northern Tip Coastal communities.

    Mr. Daly told of the strengths of the area including the rebounding shrimp population, human capital and cold storage operations. Challenges include climate change, infrastructure, policies and labour issues. Some of examples of opportunities are connecting harvesters to consumers, modernization, quality vs. quantity and uses of by-products.

    CETA outlines exports of fish products from Canada to European Union.  Currently, exports are high but potential has not been met, said Mr. Daly. The goal of the agreement is to create more economic interaction and encourage economic diversification. Amongst the biggest benefits to the Great Northern Peninsula is tariff reductions and access to an innovation fund.

    “Sometimes the smallest player with the least resources have to fight the hardest for the money,” said Mr. Daly. “That is why I’m interested by this research. Maybe it’s about collaboration, working together to have a louder voice.”

    The goal of his research is to see how the region will be affected by CETA and how it can benefit the region, with a focus on viability of fishery and governance.  He will look at what’s working now and how it is working, and interactions between government, and its participation with the public to determine problems and find solutions.

    Residents wonder what CETA means for rural areas, and are appreciative of Mr. Daly's research in this area.

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