Premier Darrell Dexter was greeted by protestors as he arrived for an event in Shelburne on Wednesday night, June 20.
The province is making an investment in Cooke Aquaculture to assist its major expansion in Nova Scotia, which includes a fish processing facility expected to create more than 300 jobs in Shelburne.
The provincial investment announced on Thursday, June 21, includes a $16-million interest-bearing loan and a $9-million forgivable loan through the Nova Scotia Jobs Fund and jobsHere. Four million dollars of the $16-million interest-bearing loan can be forgiven based on research, development, and commercialization of innovation in the aquaculture industry.
Cooke also plans to invest $150 million in the expansion, which is already underway.
Dozens of municipal politicians, businesspeople and community members applauded the news.
Premier Darrell Dexter says the investment by the province is helping to create hundreds of good jobs and strengthen the economy in rural Nova Scotia.
"This investment represents a tremendous opportunity for southwest Nova Scotia, and the entire province," said Premier Dexter. "This is about helping mothers, fathers and young people. Today we are creating good jobs that families in communities can count on. This is about creating opportunities for young people to put down roots and make a better life in these communities.”
Cooke Aquaculture has the largest salmon farming operation in Atlantic Canada, employing about 140 Nova Scotians. The company expects to create more than 400 more jobs in rural Nova Scotia.
Cooke will grow its marine operations in Shelburne and Digby, with 120 jobs, build a new salmon hatchery in Digby with 20 new jobs, expand a feed mill in Truro with 30 positions and open a fish processing facility in Shelburne, which will employ an estimated 320 people.
"With this investment, we can continue to build on the innovative, science-based and sustainable practices that our family company has developed in Atlantic Canada," said Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke Aquaculture.
"We are very pleased to hear about this investment as it means a lot to our rural area," said Al Delaney, Mayor of Shelburne. "We are very supportive of Cooke Aquaculture. They understand our rural area and we look forward to working with the Cooke family to help make their business a success in Shelburne."
Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in the fishing industry and has strong growth potential in Nova Scotia. Half of all seafood consumed is farmed.
"The release of the aquaculture strategy was an important step to help ensure aquaculture development is conducted in a way that protects the environment and the traditional fisheries," said Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sterling Belliveau. "This significant investment announced today further demonstrates government's commitment to developing a sustainable industry that will create jobs throughout our rural communities and grow the economy."
Not everyone was happy over the news. The premier was met by several dozen protestors as he arrived at an event the evening before the announcement.
“The peaceful protest was designed to show the NDP caucus that there are many citizens in Nova Scotia who do not approve of the government’s support of what they feel are dangerous and irresponsible aquaculture practices,” wrote Sindy Keeler, of MADAY Shelburne County in a release.
Protestors were from Shelburne, St. Mary’s Bay, Jordan Bay and Port Mouton.