Message from the Outgoing CAIA President

An excerpt from the CAIA 2010-2011 Annual Report

Submitted by John Rose, President, Icy Waters Ltd.

As I enter my tenth year in this industry – a sliver of the experience of many of my colleagues – I am continually astounded as to how Canadian aquaculture continues to be a strong engine of innovation, employment and growth, despite the numerous challenges it faces.

The uncertain economy, unpredictable weather and daunting regulatory environment would crush the soul of many normal business folk. Nonetheless, our farmers – shepherds of sorts – continue to wake up and tend their ‘flocks’ of fins and shells. Notwithstanding attending bankers meetings, discussing qualitative trait loci with PhD’s, and welding things, they do about a thousand tasks, all the while providing the world’s best products every single day.

The industry’s strength shouldn’t be astounding, given their unrelenting passion to succeed, but I am always pleasantly surprised.

This past year has had some great achievements. Ask anyone in the industry about their program and what they are working on. They will tell you about the people that work for or with them, their families, their farms, new products, methods and technology. The success will be palpable. It might not always directly equate to ROI, or some other Bay Street metric, but if you listen closely the achievements will be profound.

Despite these achievements, it would be easy to focus on the negative. Our lack of a legitimate national
Aquaculture Act, providing surety to all stakeholders, is a significant impediment to long-term, sustainable growth. Investment is global, and dollars will flow to the areas where there is less risk. Despite our access to the best water, best markets, and best food safety regulations, we languish behind global competitors because we have no assurances that the rules are clear and won’t change overnight. The industry isn’t asking for direct contribution; we can find the money. But money won’t come here if it has no assurances of stability. Not unlike the animals we tend, we too will grow despite the challenges, but imagine how we could grow and how efficient we could be if we had a stable regulatory environment?

CAIA continues to fight hard for all its members, ranging from those with a single tank on the side of a stream to those with multiple sites stretching across hundreds of miles of rugged coastline. From working to ensure industry stakeholders have regulatory surety, to fighting the plethora of misinformation and misguided sentiment, Ruth Salmon and her team continue to make sure people listen. The need for a strong national association such as CAIA has never been greater. As the business case for an Aquaculture Act hits the desks of government, members need to be united and strong in their resolve to demand changes. Your continual support, both in terms of membership dues and governance, will make change happen.

Regardless of these challenges and the need to get up each day and either tend to the fish, or tend to the stakeholders, the industry will triumph. Over the next ten years a lot will change, some faces, some names, but the passion to succeed will be constant.

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