A mussel processing plant in Notre Dame Bay is the first processing operation in the world to receive the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.
The Norlantic Processors Ltd. plant in Pleasantview had gone through a rigorous process, and officially received the certification in late November, but it was only recently announced by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.
“Achieving mussel BAP for our plant, further demonstrates our continued commitment to producing the best mussels in the world," said Terry Mills, president of Norlantic Processors.
In addition to the processing plant, Mills' company also has three mussel farm sites totalling 728 hectares and the operation is looking at pursuing BAP certification for its mussel farms in the future.
The company currently produces around a million pounds of blue mussels per year, and the product is marketed to customers throughout North America under the NPL brand.
Certification a shot in the arm
Acquiring BAP certification is a lengthy, expensive and detailed process. Included in that process are independent, third-party audits evaluate all aspects of an operation — including areas like environmental responsibility, social impacts and food safety — to see whether or not they comply with the list of BAP standards that have been developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.
Miranda Pryor of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association says the certification for the Noratlantic plant represents a major shot in the arm both for the company and the province's mussel industry as a whole.
"We now have this, we can stand up and say, yes, we are absolutely certified to this globally recognized international standard, and we can say to our marketplace … we have the top, highest quality seafood to offer you," Pryor told CBC's Fisheries Broadcast.
The BAP certification is the latest good news for mussel producers in the province. Early in 2013, Newfoundland mussels were the first in North America to receive organic aquaculture certification.
More than 4,000 tonnes of mussels were produced in the province in 2012 with a market value listed around $14 million.
"Our industry is doing tremendously well, 2013 was a banner year and we're looking towards 2014 as being an even better year," Pryor said.
"(Producers) are trying to meet the demand now. It's a tremendous place to find yourself in. We are really looking at increasing the mussels in the province if we can."