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Newfoundland Finds a Billion Dollars in Fish

by 5m Editor
16 March 2009, at 12:00am

CANADA - The Newfoundland and Labrador seafood industry experienced an excellent year of performance in 2008. The annual Seafood Year in Review report was released today by the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

It confirmed that the province’s fishing industry again exceeded one billion dollars in production value. This was accomplished despite a world-wide economic crisis, high fuel costs and competition from low-cost producers.

"Our government is pleased to see such a positive performance in the province’s fishing industry," said Minister Hedderson. "It gives me a great deal of pleasure to release the Seafood Year in Review 2008 and we are especially pleased to see that it confirms such a positive performance."

Snow crab and shrimp continued to play a significant role with approximately $365.9 million in land values, representing 70 per cent of the total. While overall landings were down by 3.2 per cent, the overall landed value increased by 2.8 per cent. Higher landings of snow crab and higher prices for coldwater shrimp offset the lower landed value of pelagics. Groundfish landed values were on par with the previous year.

Aquaculture production jumped to a record level of production at 11,545 tonnes, with a record export value of $63.1 million in 2008. The department has undertaken several initiatives to support the expansion of the province’s aquaculture industry. These include plans to finalize the establishment of an aquatic veterinary diagnostic facility in St. Alban’s. Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2009. The department has also undertaken a comprehensive marine infrastructure development study to address requirements for the expanding aquaculture sector on the province’s south coast.

Several developments occurred in 2008 which will bode well for the province’s seafood industry. Through the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program, the department worked with industry and committed over $2 million in research and development funding. This included projects on safety, energy efficiency and seafood marketing.

In October 2008, the department introduced a new seafood processing policy framework. The new framework provides for more rigorous policies for licence issuance and tighter policy guidelines relating to licence transfers and opportunities for combining of the existing value-added crab licences. The new framework also provides a more transparent process, more viable processing plants and more secure employment opportunities.

The department also supported the Association of Seafood Producers in their successful application to obtain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the Canadian northern shrimp trawl fishery. This is the first fishery in Canada to earn MSC certification and the first shrimp fishery in the world to be eligible to bear the MSC eco-label. "It is increasingly important to consumers, seafood retailers and the restaurant sector to be able to say that their seafood products are harvested in a sustainable manner," said Minister Hedderson. "So it is very good from a sales and marketing perspective for the northern trawl shrimp fishery to achieve this certification."

While the 2008 seal landings were on par with the previous year, the landed value dropped by approximately 40 per cent in 2008. This was due largely to the decreased value of seal pelts. The price of pelts declined from over $55 in 2007 to $32 in 2008.

In terms of the outlook for 2009, favourable exchange rates with the United States (US) and Japan will impact positively on the value of our province’s seafood industry and will likely offset lower prices. Aquaculture production is expected to increase again in 2009 and is exported mainly to US markets. Decreased fuel costs should also bode well for the industry in 2009.

"Our government is very pleased with the performance of the fishing industry in 2008," said Minister Hedderson. "While there may be challenges ahead, there are also many factors that could positively impact this industry in the coming year. We look forward to another year of working with industry and our key stakeholders, to improve the province’s fishing industry for all those who depend on it."

Further Reading

- You can view the annual Seafood Year in Review by clicking here.

5m Editor