News release

Investment to Redevelop Oyster Industry in Bras d’Or Lake

An investment of more than $2 million by the Province and the federal government will support the redevelopment of the oyster industry in the Bras d’Or Lake by addressing the spread of a devastating parasite and providing oyster seed.

The support to the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment in Sydney was announced today, May 27, by Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Steve Craig and Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso.

“This investment is a positive step to re-establishing a strong local oyster industry in Cape Breton. It will help our seafood industry remain sustainable and provide top-quality seafood products to the world. We are excited to join with our federal and industry partners in these important investments,” said Minister Craig.

The centre will develop a land-based oyster hatchery to prepare breeding stock and provide healthy larvae to Bras d’Or Lake oyster growers. Its lab will decontaminate equipment and water to prevent the spread of Multinucleate Sphere Unknown X disease (MSX), which has sidelined the industry on the Bras d’Or Lake for the past 15 years. Previously, the area saw about 80 per cent of oyster landings in Nova Scotia and was a contributor to the local economy.

The support comes from the $400-million Atlantic Fisheries Fund, jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments, which focuses on increasing opportunities and market value for sustainably sourced, high-quality fish and seafood products from Atlantic Canada. Now in its fifth of seven years, the program is open to applications from the commercial fisheries and aquaculture industry, Indigenous groups, academia, and industry associations and organizations, including research institutions.


The Atlantic Fisheries Fund encourages innovative ways to harvest, process and deliver high-quality, sustainably sourced fish and seafood from the region’s commercial fisheries and aquaculture sectors. The work happening at the Verschuren Centre is key to the rebirth of a once thriving oyster industry in the Bras d’Or Lake, and a welcome infusion of high-quality oyster into Nova Scotia’s fish and seafood sector. Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Atlantic Fisheries Fund support for this project will truly deliver community and industry benefits to lease holders in the Bras D’Or Lake Biosphere. The revitalization of this key shellfish sector – through a novel mitigation strategy, seed nursery and hatchery – will enrich this world-renowned jewel for all who live, work and depend upon it for their livelihood. Beth Mason, President and CEO, Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment

Quick Facts:

  • the Atlantic Fisheries Fund will invest more than $400 million over seven years to support Canada’s fish and seafood sector
  • the federal government will provide 70 per cent of the funding, with 30 per cent coming from the Atlantic provinces
  • the fund aims to help Canada’s seafood sector transition to meet growing market demands for products that are high quality, value-added and sustainably sourced
  • eligible projects must focus on innovation, infrastructure or science partnerships