Loan to support rural fish farm

Darrell Cole
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Province supporting growth of Canaqua Seafoods

Canaqua Seafoods biologist and Merlin Fish Farms president Forrest Merlin hands Economic and Rural Development Minister Graham Steele a farmed Atlantic halibut. The province is helping the family-owned small business expand. 

ADVOCATE HARBOUR – A family-owned fish farm in West Advocate is receiving a $1-million repayable loan to expand its operations.

Canaqua Seafoods is growing its land-based fish farm and creating 14 new full and part-time jobs as part of a $5.5-million expansion. The company currently employs 10 full-time and an additional four to seven seasonal and part-time staff.

“This is very big news for us because we have just invested about $5 million in a new halibut project to increase productivity on our land-based farm for halibut,” Paul Merlin of parent company Merlin Fish Farms Ltd. said Thursday. “We’ve made the investment and now we need the time to grow the fish to the size the market needs. Now we’re going to be able to do this.”

Merlin said the loan, that is repayable with interest over 10 years, will help pay operational costs for the new fish his company has brought in.

Economic and Rural Development Minister Graham Steele visited the fish farm earlier this week and was impressed with what he saw.

“Canaqua is an impressive, family-run small business that is creating good jobs families can count on,” Steele said. “The province’s support will help Canaqua continue to provide opportunities for people to put down roots and make a life in rural Nova Scotia.”

Canaqua grows halibut, arctic char and salmon smolt at its innovative facility. The operation is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia, using technology that pumps seawater to onshore tanks. The minister said the company is considered a world leader in land-based halibut farming.

Merlin, who started his first fish farm in Advocate in 1999, said the potential for land-based aquaculture is enormous.

“When practiced sustainably, aquaculture is a perfect fit for Nova Scotia. Farming marine species like finfish, shellfish and other organisms offers great opportunity to expand Nova Scotia’s workforce,” Merlin said. “With the province’s support I can grow my business and provide more people with rewarding, interesting and environmentally considerate jobs.”

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in the fishing industry. Half of all seafood consumed is farmed. The industry is worth about $57 million annually and supports more than 750 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs.

“We are very pleased with the province’s commitment to help Canaqua access the support it needs to grow its state of the art, land-based halibut farm,” said Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia executive director Bruce Hancock. “Aquaculture represents a fantastic opportunity for rural Nova Scotia, and supporting small and medium-sized businesses like Canaqua is key to taking advantage of opportunities to grow our economy, provide long-term, rewarding jobs, and offer better access to locally grown food.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell



Organizations: Merlin Fish Farms, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, ADVOCATE HARBOUR, West Advocate

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