Seafood container shipments worth billions
Tuesday, 21 March THE CHRONICLE HERALD

JAMES RISDON 
A recent report estimated Nova Scotia’s seafood and fishing exports for 2015 at almost $1.69 billion.

Seafood-packed containers bound for other countries are luring shipping lines to the Port of Halifax because that industry’s exports are particularly valuable, says the top exec at the Halifax Port Authority.

“The value of seafood is extremely important to this province,” Karen Oldfield, president and chief executive officer of the Halifax Port Authority, said in an interview Tuesday.

A report prepared by the Chris Lowe Planning and Management Group and released Tuesday pegs the total value of Nova Scotia’s seafood and fishing exports for 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, at almost $1.69 billion.

Those two related sectors together account for in excess of $510 million more in exports than the tire industry, which exported about $1.18 billion’s worth of product in 2015.

According to the Chris Lowe Planning report, each refrigerated container of seafood is worth an estimated $73,650 in direct and spin-off economic benefits, almost three times as much as the $25,000 for the average container filled with other goods for export.

“I was pleasantly surprised, having never seen the value attributed to export containers,” said Oldfield.

“Those are big numbers . . . If you’re a shipping line . . . and you know there’s that value in those containers . . . that’s one of the reasons to come here.”

An economic engine for Nova Scotia, the Port of Halifax now generates more than $1.7 billion in economic benefits, up 5.9 per cent from the comparable figure in 2013.

“The Port of Halifax enabled Nova Scotia container exporters in 2015 to contribute over $1.9 billion to the province’s gross output,” states the report.

“Combined with port operations, the total impact of the Port of Halifax on Nova Scotia’s gross output is (about $3.6 billion).”

The number of jobs attributable to the port’s operations grew 5.3 per cent in the past three years to the equivalent of 12,446 full-time jobs, according to the report.

That solid growth in container traffic at the Port of Halifax comes at a time when it is also seeing a boom in cruise ship activity.

Buoyed by a 7.2-per cent increase in cruise business in 2016, a year which saw more than 238,000 passengers call on the Port of Halifax aboard 136 vessels, port officials are expecting even more people to folk to Halifax this year for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations and the arrival of the tall ships.

Lane Farguson, a spokesman for the Halifax Port Authority, said earlier this year that 179 cruise ships carrying about 275,000 passengers are expected to call on Halifax in 2017.

“This will be the highest number of passengers getting off at the Port of Halifax and the highest number of vessels as well,” he said in an interview.

In 2016, the total economic output of the cruise ship industry jumped by 17.8 per cent to $122.9 million.

Many of those cruise ship passengers stopped by the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, which typically gets about 1.25 million visitors annually. The economic impact of that market, which does $23.4 million in annual sales, was estimated in the report at more than $42 million.