THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO Port Hardy council wants to see an aquaculture program offered at North Island College in Port Hardy.

Should aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College in Port Hardy?

“I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program”

Port Hardy council wants to see aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College (NIC) in Port Hardy.

NIC’s Campus & Community Coordinator Caitlin Hartnett spoke to Port Hardy council Feb. 13 about what the campus currently has on the go, noting she usually comes to talk to councils in the region “to let them know what’s going on at the college and also to get your feedback about what programs you might want to see as well.”

Hartnett then gave a brief breakdown of courses that are currently being offered at NIC in Port Hardy, specifically pointing out the success of their Kwak’wala course, which has done well locally and is now being offered down island with over 35 people enrolling in Comox.

After a brief discussion with council about the successful health care and trades courses offered at the Port Hardy campus, Coun. Janet Dorward wanted to know if aquaculture programs are only offered in Campbell River.

Hartnett confirmed that aquaculture courses are indeed held at the Campbell River campus, before asking if that was something council wanted to see locally.

“Definitely,” replied Coun. John Tidbury.

“It’s come up before whether there would be enough enrolment for an aquaculture program, certainly it’s an industry that’s important,” said Coun. Fred Robertson.

“You’re thinking about a program to train people to work in the farms?” asked Hartnett.

Robertson said that’s one option, but there’s a lot of different aspects to the industry that could potentially be taught.

Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt noted there is a two-year diploma program for aquaculture in Campbell River. “I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program that people can access (via ITV or computer) while working up here.”

Hartnett thanked council for the input and ended her presentation.

For more information on courses held at NIC in Port Hardy, go to https://www.nic.bc.ca/about-us/our-locations/port-hardy/.

Back in December, the B.C. government announced a plan to shut down up to 17 net-pen salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago, beginning in 2019 and completed by 2023.

The 17 Atlantic salmon aquaculture sites are operated by Mowi and Cermaq Canada, in the region between Kingcome Inlet and Knight Inlet off the north end of Vancouver Island. The plan was announced by Premier John Horgan, federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and representatives of Indigenous communities in the region.

Mowi, the largest salmon farm operator in B.C., says it plans to apply for new licences to shift production to other sites in B.C., and seek out new sites where there is interest from Indigenous communities.

– with files from Black Press


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editor@northislandgazette.com

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