The chief of the We’koqma’q First Nation in Inverness Co. says some new federal funding will go toward new aquaculture equipment and upgrading existing resources.
Rod Googoo says they hope to have 92 cages by 2019; they currently have 64 after they only had 27 cages in 2017.
Rodger Cuzner, the MP for Cape Breton-Canso, announced $1 million for their aquaculture operation Friday.
After the announcement, Googoo said the funding will help them reach a processing goal of one million fish per year.
“That allows us to expand, it allows us to get to where we want to be- we’re two-thirds there,” he said. “This million-dollar announcement allows us to get to that point where we want to be- the goals that we have set for ourselves, that puts us right there.”
Googoo said they currently have 45 community members employed, and they anticipate adding 10 additional positions as a result of the funding.
Cuzner said We’koqma’q officials have been doing a great job, and growth will continue with the financial contribution.
“I think that they’ve got some momentum through this; they’ve put the resources into the aquaculture that were necessary,” he said. “They’ve taken a science-based and a business-based approach to their investments, and they’re really making a name for themselves in the industry, in the sector.”
Federal officials say aquaculture employees in We’koqma’q harvested 70,000 steelhead trout in 2016, 170,000 in 2017, and are aiming to harvest more than 400,000 in 2018.
Cuzner said aside from the great business model, reconciliation is important on the federal radar, so they were pleased to invest in the local growth.