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Louisbourg Seafoods Launches Sea++

The fishing industry and technological innovation are being brought together in a competition that aims to solve problems for the fishing industry in Cape Breton and beyond.

Louisbourg Seafoods has launched a two-month contest, SEA++, that asks innovators to solve one or more of five problems.

The issues raised are diverse and cover issues of sustainability, safety and the business side of the industry.

Entrants are asked to look at improving mobile and fixed fishing gear, to solve an issue in aquaculture, to improve sales and marketing, or to solve an issue in the management of a fishing enterprise.

Entrants have until Feb. 9 to register and can do so here.

Staff at the Louisbourg Seafoods group of companies honed the contest concept over several months. They initially thought of running a hackathon-type event, in which computer programmers and others gather over several days to solve problems.

But they eventually fixed on the contest format, named for the computer programming language C++.

“We’ve always talked about the challenges that exist…We’ve been living with these challenges for some time,” said Adam Mugridge, a company manager and a marine biologist.

“The fishing industry is not just about going to catch fish. It’s a lot more than that.”

The contest opened on Jan. 26 and so far, entrants are as diverse as the problems. The local startup and tech sectors were invited to participate, but the contest is open to anyone.

Winners will receive $5,000 in prizes. All participants will be given the chance to conceptualize and develop their solutions with the help of industry experts.

The organizers believe the burgeoning startup and tech communities in Cape Breton have the potential to revolutionize traditional processes.

The seafood industry remains one of Cape Breton’s strongest sectors. Louisbourg Seafoods states that in Nova Scotia, the seafood industry earns roughly $1 billion in annual revenue.

With new regulations and customer demands creating new challenges for the seafood industry, innovation, creativity and sustainability are increasingly important, said company manager and marine biologist Glen Fewer.

Mugridge said other industries, including the medical, agricultural and arts and crafts sectors, have now expressed an interest in running similar challenges.

Ideas submitted to the Sea++ contest will be pitched on March 12. The finale will be in April.