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
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
“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
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.