Aquaculture for all

Fishing Industry Calls for Government Talks

Economics Politics +2 more

CANADA - Canada's fishing industry needs urgent action from the Federal government as it too is hit by the same international financial crisis that is squeezing the automotive, manufacturing and forestry sectors.

This is the message that the country's largest fishing groups delivered to Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in a letter today.

"Ours is an export industry. More than 80 per cent of what we produce is exported; and most of our exports go to the US. So the health of the Canadian fishing industry depends on a healthy American and larger world economy. With the US now in recession there is a risk demand and prices for Canada's high quality fisheries products will drop to unsustainable levels" according to Earle McCurdy, spokesperson for the industry groups.

"The price for lobster, Canada's most valuable fishery export, is now 35 per cent lower than at this time last year; well below even minimal returns on investment for fishermen. If this price drop extends to our other major products (crab, salmon, shrimp) our fleets and communities will lose hundreds of millions of dollars."

"The US and global recessions is a crisis for coastal Canada" McCurdy said. "Most coastal communities are one-industry towns where the fishery is the main employer just like towns where the automobile or forestry industries dominate. Unlike these other industries our fishing fleets are made up of independently owned and operated small businesses. But they need a strategic intervention too" McCurdy said.

The ad-hoc group of Canada's main fishing fleets is calling on the government to immediately launch a series of pre-budget consultations to get input on the priorities for government action for the fisheries.

Among the things the fleets would like to see included in the Federal budget are:

  • Measures to ease access to capital and credit;
  • The establishment of a special federal fisheries fund to support fleet rationalization;
  • A national agency to promote seafood marketing;
  • Reductions in the burden of fees and other fish management costs;
  • Funding for fisheries research and development.