Organic production has been highlighted as one way Nova Scotia sea farmers can gain the competitive advantage to grow their businesses and access new markets. This Saturday, the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia (AANS) will lead a delegation of 15 industry members and government officials on a week-long mission to Ireland to learn more about making the change to organic seafood production and what it could mean for local businesses.
“The farmed seafood market is becoming more competitive,” says Bruce Hancock, executive director, AANS. “It is becoming increasingly challenging for small- to medium- sized businesses to compete with the larger aquaculture companies for market access. By adopting organic certification, smaller operators may be able to access niche markets that will allow for premium prices and increase exporting opportunities.”
The Canadian Organic Standards were released in April of this year, and closely reflect the standards outlined in the Irish Organic Standards. Mission delegates, travelling from all across Nova Scotia and working in various sectors of the industry, will work through two days of training and familiarization with the standards, then visit seven Irish operations that have made the switch to organic production. It is expected that the information gathered on this trip will be used to help producers decide if the switch to organic production is feasible for their operation, as well as help develop an Organic Standard Procedure for Nova Scotia.
The recently released Nova Scotia aquaculture strategy identifies the need to farm responsibly and to improve transparency to the public. The AANS fully supports this move and sees the adoption of an organic standard as one way to help achieve these goals for a particular segment of the industry that chooses to become organic certified sea farmers.
“Organic certification is a great way for producers to show they are responsible seafarmers, but it isn’t the only way,” says Hancock. “Many of our member companies are going on this mission to become better informed about what isinvolved in organic production. Whether they decide to make the switch or not, we believe they are already responsible producers. The knowledge they gain on this mission will help them to clearly market themselves in that way in both the local and international markets.”
For more information visit www.aansonline.ca.