Nova Scotian seafood exports now top $2 billion, which represents an increase of over 100% since 2012. This is according to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in a government report that can be found here.
Nova Scotia has always been known for our seafood, and our aquaculture sector. If you search for pictures of Nova Scotia you will likely be met with stock images of lighthouses and lobster traps. The Airport is packed full of stuffed lobsters and anchor-shaped bumper stickers.
The nature of the Nova Scotian seafood business is changing. Globalization has affected the sector in a many positive ways, which will drive the sector for the years to come.
We now export $524 million dollars worth of seafood to China. China is undoubtably a growing market for our seafood, as that figure has jumped by 36% in the past year alone. Growth like that means that production is going to have to jump significantly to meet unprecedented demand. That also means that the market is becoming more lucrative, and this may signal better times for the economy in rural Nova Scotia, especially the South Shore region.
Exports to the European Union have also risen significantly, with $197 million worth of seafood being exported from Nova Scotia. The U.S. remains as the largest destination for local seafood, with exports upwards of $900 million annually.
The key to sustained growth in the aquaculture sector is sustainability. As Alberta and Newfoundland can teach us, having an economy to reliant on one sector poses opportunities and risks. Because of the crash in oil prices, Alberta now has one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada, although they are still Canada’s richest province per capita. As revenue from this booming sector grows, ensuring sustainability and a focus on long-term planning will help Nova Scotia avoid the boom-bust cycle Alberta knows so well.