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Harper Government Invests in Aquaculture in Middlesex County

15 October 2012

CANADA - The Harper Government is helping convert a former mushroom plant in Thames Centre to a state-of-the-art fish farm. The project was announced Member of Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London, Joe Preston, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield and Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear.

"By investing in projects like this, our Government is helping build a brighter future for rural communities in southern Ontario," Mr Preston said. "This project will boost our economy by creating local jobs and enhancing our domestic fish farming industry,"

With this investment of more than C$1.4 million, Sand Plains Aquaculture will produce Canadian-farmed Tilapia for consumption in the Toronto market. Currently, all live Tilapia consumed in the Toronto market is imported directly from the United States. The first phase of the project will enable the company to raise over half a million pounds of Tilapia for this market and will create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs. Another 20 jobs will be created when the operation is in full steam.

This C$5-million project received a C$1-million repayable loan investment from Agriculture Canada's Sand Plains Community Development Fund, a C$415,000 contribution from Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Programme, and a C$20,000 investment and technical assistance from the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Programme.

"Sand Plains Aquaculture is excited to be the first land-based recirculating Tilapia farm in Ontario," says co-owner Ewart McLaughlin. "We are very pleased with the contributions from all of our partners. We have a great team that has worked hard to bring this project to fruition."

In its first year, the business anticipates sales of $1 million, which will rise to more than C$10 million when fully functional. This business will also create opportunities for further food processing such as fillets and value-added items.

The Sand Plains Community Development Fund is administered by the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations. The Fund targets community-based initiatives that support regional development, attract and retain people and investment, and stimulate business development and job creation.

For more information on the Sand Plains Community Development Fund, please visit www.ontcfdc.com or www.sandplains.ca.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program leverages investment from the private sector to improve the competitiveness, innovation, management and environmental performance of the Canadian aquaculture industry. Since 2008, the Programme has allocated C$23.4 million of funding to innovative aquaculture projects across the country.

For more information on the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Programme, please visit www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

The National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) provides financial support to qualified small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada to help them undertake technology innovation.

For more information on NRC-IRAP, please visit www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.

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