Aquaculture Association wins premier’s Agri-food Innovation Excellence Award

LITTLE CURRENT—On September 25, at a ceremony in Sudbury, the Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association (NOAA) was presented with a regional Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence by the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

This award program recognizes innovators who contribute to the success of Ontario’s agri-food sector. Fifty innovators received $5,000 each at local award ceremonies held across the province during August/September 2012.

Since 2007, 285 awards under the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program have recognized innovations from producers, processors and agri-food organizations.

“By encouraging innovation on the farm and attracting consumer awareness and support, we’re working together to make Ontario’s northern agri-food industry stronger,” said Mr. McMeekin.

The award was in recognition of NOAA’s development and implementation of a comprehensive communications and media strategy to promote Northern Ontario’s fish farming community. Armed with a revamped website that offers recipes and prep tips, a new branding logo and brochure, NOAA kicked off their marketing campaign by promoting Ontario farm-raised rainbow trout, a healthy protein rich in omega-3 fatty acid. The association continues to build awareness of the industry through social media and by coordinating annual aquaculture education tours for government, food service providers, buyers and people interested in aquaculture.

“Receipt of this award sends out a strong message that fish farming can play an important role in the success of our rural northern communities, the food processing sector and in the economy of Ontario,” stated Karen Tracey, NOAA’s executive director. “Our aquaculture industry is rich with creators, problem solvers, environmentalists, out-of-the-box thinkers, and risk takers all coming together in an extraordinary mix of small and medium sized businesses focussed on providing a healthy and local food source, creating jobs, and driving economic growth.”

The NOAA was established in 2002 to serve the interests of the Northern Ontario aquaculture operators who share a common interest in a viable, sustainable Northern aquaculture industry. The association’s mandate includes liaison with government agencies; education and public relations services to organizations, the media, and the public. NOAA also strives to provide accurate information about the sector; as well as promoting the sustainable development and enhancement of this Ontario agri-food sector.

NOAA represents fish farmers and those who provide services and supplies to the industry. Rainbow trout farming in Ontario provides for approximately 250 direct and indirect jobs while contributing an estimated $60 million to the provincial economy each year.