By Connor Lynch
CAMPBELLFORD — Ontario’s first shrimp farm has shut down, according to industry sources.
First Ontario Shrimp, launched by former dairy and hog farmers Paul and Tracy Cocchio in 2016, was a daring experiment in aquaculture in the province. The farmers reworked their hog barn extensively to create a shrimp-rearing environment.
But Ontario’s fledgling shrimp industry has struggled with supply issues. Post-larvae shrimp, the hatchlings that producers finish into market-ready shrimp, aren’t readily available in Ontario. Producers here largely sourced them from facilities in Texas and Florida. But hurricanes hit the United States last year, badly damaging those facilities, cutting off supplies to Canada.
The Campbellford operation closed temporarily, then shut down. According to its website, which has since gone offline, the shutdown was “due to many variables.” Calls and emails to the Cocchio family were not returned. According to sources in the industry, the lack of post-larvae shrimp combined with some growth issues were too much for the farm to weather.
Other producers have been springing up in Ontario.
Ontario first approved shrimp cultivation in 2014. Shrimp Canada, a post-larvae producer and research company, announced in 2017 it would soon be opening facilities. Planet Shrimp, a massive producer at Aylmer, in Western Ontario, launched in 2016. A farm in Northern Ontario, just south of Sudbury, called Good 4 U Shrimp, is hoping to launch a post-larvae production facility this year.