A family tradition since 1894, and a growing business since its launch in 1983. The art of selling salt fish.
The waters around Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia are blessed with a bounty of sea life: scallops, lobster, smelt, cod—in fact, the early settlers wrote home that the “cod ran so thick that you could walk across the bays!”
Attracted by the promise of a better life, thousands of displaced Scottish and Irish sharecroppers flooded the new world and settled its rocky coasts casting their futures, and their fates, upon the seas.
And they prospered.
It’s not an easy life. There are always risks to be faced. But out here… where the ice meets the sea, we belong.
Nickerson, Baker, Campbell, Cunningham—the founding families that built settlements which became villages and then towns, until the turn of the 20th century when communities such as Clark’s Harbour gave rise to industry.
But the human cost of working the ocean was high, and soon onshore enterprises emerged.
The year was 1894 and the Cunningham family was the first to seize the opportunity in the “salt fish” market by establishing a processing facility. The hungry markets of New York, Boston, Montreal and eastern Canada were booming and the fishermen of Clark’s Harbour not only caught, but processed and sold, the world’s best fish.
Over the generations Clark’s Harbour has changed—but not that much. In fact, today’s processing plant is less than two kilometres from the original.
The business remains in the family. It is now owned and operated by Adlai and Fenton Cunningham who, like their forefathers before them, believe that “sustainability” does not stop where the tides end.
The Cunninghams embraced the opportunities that the emerging global economy offers. The plant expanded in 1986 and then again the following year. And in 1994, an adjacent salting facility was purchased, doubling Sea Star Seafood’s production capacity. This was followed by an aggressive sales push into the United States, Portugal and the Caribbean.
But with growth comes risk.
So, in 2008 the company became a customer of Export Development Canada (EDC) to reduce their risk and expand their client base. With EDC’s assistance, Sea Star Seafoods now exports to more than 20 markets, and the Cunninghams hope to pass their success and their values to future family generations.
Respect is an important word in fishing communities, as it is in Clark’s Harbour. The company has built its reputation on principles of responsibility towards the community, its employees and the oceans they harvest.
At EDC, we share these values, which is why we have continued to partner with the company during its remarkable growth.
Sea Star Seafoods has built its success story by looking to the future without forgetting lessons from the past.
The Cunninghams believe that the values of those who came before offer something more fundamental than a way of business—they offer a way of life.
EDC has stood by us—rain or shine.
Special thanks to the communities of Triton, Newfoundland and Clark’s Harbour, Nova Scotia for your support in filming this piece.
The world is within reach. EDC can help you start your journey today.
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