Nova Scotia

N.S. fishing industry delegation heading to Tasmania for study trip

The province is spending $100,000 to fund a weeklong trip for 13 people to study quality standards in the Australian rock lobster industry, marine protected areas and aquaculture.

13 industry reps will each receive $5K from the province to help cover their travel costs

The province believes the Nova Scotia lobster industry can learn from the harvesting and marketing practices of its counterpart in Australia. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell is leading a fishing industry delegation to Tasmania in February on a trip that will cost taxpayers about $100,000.

The purpose of the weeklong trip is to examine marine protected areas, aquaculture and a quality standards program used by Australia's southern rock lobster industry.

The province is contributing $5,000 toward the travel costs of 13 industry representatives plus the expenses of five government officials, including Colwell.

It is summertime in the Southern Hemisphere.

'Not a vacation'

"A lot of people look at these trips as a nice vacation," said Colwell. "I can tell you it's not a vacation. You work long, long hours when you're there. The flights are just murder, but it's worth it.

"We come back every time with new markets, new approaches, new ideas and how we're going do things. This will be a really fantastic educational trip especially for the industry people who are coming along."

This March 27, 2011, photo shows Freycinet National Park, Tasmania, Australia. A group of 13 Nova Scotia fisheries delegates and five provincial government officials will be visiting the Australian island state next month. (The Associated Press)

The province believes there is a lesson for Nova Scotia in the quality standards Australian fishermen have developed for their $250-million southern rock lobster industry.

Clean Green program

Colwell said a key focus will be the "clean green program" established by Australia's southern rock lobster industry, which brands the crustaceans as the "best seafood in the world."

The program requires best practices for workplace safety, product handling, vessel operations and sustainability.

"That program is incredible," said Colwell. "It trains fishermen how to do things. Boats are certified to it and it's a program we want to introduce into Nova Scotia."

MPA sceptic looks down under

Like Canada, Australia has created marine protected areas using international conservation criteria.

The Nova Scotia government is highly wary of the creation of no-take zones that can close some or all of a protected area to harvesting and other commercial uses.

Colwell said he wants to see how the Australian fishing industry has adapted.

"You can have all the rules and everything, but it's better to go to the site, talk to fishermen at work in the area, talk to the people in the community," he said. "The Tasmanian government is arranging all of this for us."

Colwell said he also wants to see how fishermen interact with the Australian aquaculture industry.

Most of the delegates will leave Feb. 7.


Paul Withers


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.


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