Nova Scotia

Shelburne County wins Nova Scotia seafood bragging rights

Ports in southwestern Nova Scotia are the engine driving the province's thriving $1.1-billion seafood industry, according to buyer data released for the first time Monday.

Government releases port-by-port purchase data for the first time

Ports in Shelburne County had the highest value of seafood purchased by buyers in 2017, a reflection of the thriving lobster business. (CBC)

Ports in southwestern Nova Scotia are the engine driving the province's thriving $1.1-billion seafood industry, according to buyer data released for the first time Monday.

The information breaks down the amount and value of purchases from commercial fishermen or aquaculturists from licensed buyers on a port-by-port basis in 2017.

While confirming the primacy of ports in Shelburne and Yarmouth counties, it also reveals the industry's reach, said Leo Muise, executive director of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, which represents processors.

"What it tells me is this industry is one of the most valuable industries in this province and there is activity in all parts of the province from northern Cape Breton to the southern part of Nova Scotia," Muise told CBC News.

Lobster buoys Shelburne

Ports in Shelburne County had the highest value of seafood purchased by buyers in 2017 at $230 million — a reflection of the thriving lobster business.

More than a quarter of the Shelburne County value came from ports on Cape Sable Island, with purchases at Clarks Harbour valued at $29 million and West Head at $30 million. Eight ports in Shelburne County sold seafood valued at $10 million or more.

Yarmouth County ports were next at $182 million dollars, with Yarmouth and Argyle leading the way. Along with Digby County at $134 million, the three southern counties accounted for almost half of the seafood purchased.

Cape Breton County had the third-highest purchase value at $144 million, led by Louisbourg, which had the single highest port value at $52 million.

Ground fish versus snow crab

The comparison between Cape Breton County ports of Louisbourg and Glace Bay reveals it's not how much is landed but what species.

Data shows in 2017, buyers in Glace Bay purchased 5.8 million kilograms of seafood valued at $41 million, while in Louisbourg buyers bought less (4.5 million kilograms) worth more ($52 million).

The snow crab landed at Louisbourg is worth more than the redfish landed in Glace Bay, said Muise.

The provincial government data shows over 161 million kilograms of seafood of all types was purchased by licensed buyers in 2017.

The $100-million Club

Ports in Digby County sold seafood worth $134 million with more than half — $69.9 million — from Digby, home to a renowned scallop fleet.

Richmond County sold $113 million in seafood, led by $19 million at Little Harbour near L'Ardoise, which is home of Blaire Martell's Lobster 'R' Us Seafood.

The data does come with one caveat: ports or counties with three or fewer buyers were not published.

That meant dozens of fishing ports were blanked out, although the data was included in the county summary.

Hants is the only county in Nova Scotia with zero purchases.

Inverness County nearly made the $100-million club ringing up purchases of $97.7 million.

Halifax County

In the middle of pack was Halifax County with purchases valued at $77 million, with Halifax at $14 million, Sambro at $13 million and Eastern Passage at $8.2 million. Guysborough County was next at $52 million, followed by Pictou County where the port of Caribou accounted for $29 million.

All were well ahead of Lunenburg County, home to the famous fishing schooner Bluenose. Ports in the county had purchases valued at $20 million, $7 million less than neighbouring Queens County.

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.