Thunder Bay

Manitouwadge looking at shrimp farming as a possible industry

The Township of Manitouwadge is looking at opportunities to participate in Ontario's aquaculture industry, and shrimp farming is the preferred option.

Manitouwadge EDO points to successful shrimp farm in Sudbury as an example to follow

The Township of Manitouwadge is looking into shrimp farming as a possible industry.

The Township of Manitouwadge is looking at opportunities to participate in Ontario's aquaculture industry, and shrimp farming is the preferred option.

Florence MacLean, the town's economic development officer, has been working on the concept for several months.

She said there are two basic types of systems that can be used in aquaculture: a water based (lake) system or a land based system that uses man made ponds or runs.

She said initially the town had thought about farming fish like walleye or trout in some of the area's many lakes.

"For Manitouwadge, you think about the community and you think about lakes and water," she said. "And I think initially that's why we started looking at it. It's a remote community. The water temperature stays cold. We have lots of lakes. Lets look at what the opportunities are in the community."

But MacLean said a study that examined the possibility of aquaculture in Manitouwadge made several recommendations, and pretty much ruled out using the local lakes.

"What we found when we did the study was the fish need to grow in very deep lakes and Manitouwadge doesn't have that," she said. "We have lots and lots of shallow lakes and rivers. So what we found in the final report and the recommendation to council is that we should consider a land based facility."

Interestingly enough, the species that was identified as having the highest potential economic opportunity was not trout, but shrimp.

A report on the feasibility of aquaculture in Manitouwadge has suggested that a land based form using man made tanks or runs be adopted. The local lakes were deemed too shallow for good fish farming. (photo: Township of Manitouwadge)

MacLean noted that there is already a shrimp facility in Sudbury that she deemed quite successful.

"I think because (shrimp) have such a short grow cycle that you can grow a batch in 5 or 6 months," she said. "For that reason that was one of the opportunities at the highest level."

In a release, the Township of Manitouwadge noted aquaculture is an increasingly popular form of farming in Ontario.

At present more than 40 species of fish are eligible to be raised in Ontario including tilapia, four species of trout, arctic char, yellow perch and even walleye.

The report also said about 50 per cent of seafood consumed worldwide is now derived from aquaculture.

MacLean said an aquaculture industry in Manitouwadge would result in increased economic and social impacts for residents, businesses, and north shore communities.

"Any community could feasibly operate an aquaculture facility with success," said MacLean. "I think the success comes from communities working together to create an industry ... of enough fish that it can be exported cost effectively."

MacLean said having an aquaculture facility in Manitouwadge will require a private company taking it on as a business venture.

She said it is also something that would need the help and involvement of local municipalities and First Nations to be successful.

MacLean said the entire study about aquaculture opportunities in Manitouwadge is available on the townships website or Facebook page.