Craig Mercer (second from left) holds a salmon raised by Cooke Aqua in Newfoundland.
Craig Mercer is walking, talking proof of a phenomenon mentioned in a report earlier this year from the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
That report, Economic Impacts of the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry, noted: “There is an indication that for some areas, where an aquaculture industry is present, there have been impacts such as individuals moving into, or back to, rural communities.”
Mercer’s done just that.
After graduating from Memorial University’s Marine in 2003 with a degree in marine environmental technology and completing the graduate program in aquaculture, he could have gone to work anywhere in Canada in the aquaculture industry — or the world, for that matter.
But Mercer decided to take a chance on the up-and-coming aquaculture industry in the Coast of Bays.
“I had been looking at the industry,” he said, “and realized that the potential for growth and success was good. I wanted to be a part of that future growth.”
He now lives in Harbour Breton, his hometown.
“A part of the graduate program in aquaculture included a work term, which I did with the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture people in St. Alban’s. I got to know some people, and through them I started working for Nordland Aquaculture, which was managed by Vernon Watkins at the time,” he said.
After a three-year stint with Nordland, Mercer was asked to do some environmental work for Sweeny International, a company that was doing some preparation work for Cooke Aqua, a company out of New Brunswick that set up an aquaculture operation the Coast of Bays in 2006.
Cooke Aqua later approached Mercer to help them set up their first sites near Belleoram in 2006. He’s been with the company ever since.
“Today I am the production co-ordinator with Cooke in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Mercer said.
“Over the years I’ve been involved with taking weight samples, quality control, site selection, feed distribution and smolt transfers. I still may do any of those tasks today and I’ve also assumed the role as chair of Cooke’s safety committee. I oversee all life-craft renewals and the recertification of all of our vessels each year.”
Mercer always loved the outdoors and the appeal of a slower-paced life.
“When I graduated from the (Marine Institute) in 2003, I was looking for a job that would not tie me down in an office. I’m in a great working environment today — I love being on the water and working in this industry that I want to help grow.
“I like the slow-paced life of rural Newfoundland and the outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing that this place offers. Rural Newfoundland is also a great place to raise a family, in my opinion, and I’m looking forward to being a part of this community for many years.”