In December, 2018, the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) met to discuss how the nation’s fisheries can be sustainably managed in a way that supports the economic prosperity of communities across Canada.
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources for Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Gerry Byrne, co-chaired the meeting attended by their counterparts and representatives from all provinces and territories.
The fish and seafood sector is important to Canada’s food security, and to the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of coastal, rural and Indigenous communities in Canada, employing approximately 80,000 people.
Canada exported $6.9 billion worth of fish and seafood in 2017, of which about 65% went to the United States.
At the event, Ministers renewed their commitment to developing new trading opportunities, and further promoting markets that have opened up through new trade agreements.
They launched the new $42.85 million Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund. This cost-shared fund (70% federal and 30% provincial/territorial) will enable provinces and territories to support their industries’ priority projects and help Canadians working in the fish and seafood sector by creating jobs and developing more opportunities for Canadian products.
The $42.85 million program will support the fish and seafood sectors in all participating provinces and territories by encouraging industry collaboration to promote high quality products.
The Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund is now open for business and is accepting Expressions of Interest from potential project proponents.
Further details on the Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund are available at: www.canadafisheriesfunds.ca
Aquaculture was another key topic of conversation at the meeting. Ministers directed officials to develop federal legislation with limited scope that respects federal, provincial and territorial jurisdiction and provides greater clarity to the sector. Such federal legislation would continue to ensure that Canada’s aquaculture industry is a global leader in producing high-quality aquaculture products in an environmentally sustainable manner.
CCFAM members recognized the challenges facing the world’s oceans and other bodies of water – including plastic pollution, abandoned or lost ghost gear, and climate change – and agreed that greater collaboration is needed among industry, Indigenous communities, not-for-profit organizations and others to ensure that this rich resource is available for future generations.
The Ministers also discussed Canada’s endangered whale populations and the substantial federal investments to enhance their protection.
All CCFAM members agreed on the importance of marine conservation and engaging with Indigenous communities and stakeholders during the planning and development of marine protection initiatives.
CCFAM Ministers noted Canada has met the 2017 target of 5% marine conservation and is on track to meet the 10% 2020 commitment; recognizing the balance between the environment and the economy.
They also discussed how to increase collaboration, respect Indigenous rights and better incorporate Indigenous knowledge in the decision-making process. Furthermore, they discussed the need to improve the quality of life in Indigenous communities and take meaningful steps to advance reconciliation.
Ministers are also determined to work together to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species that continue to have significant impacts on some of Canada’s native fish stocks, as well as a number of marine food producing sectors.
Finally, the table discussed the implementation of the new Fisheries Act and agreed to continue to work together on new policy and regulatory tools. CCFAM will meet again in Saskatchewan in 2019.
Regional – Provincial Fisheries Funds
Also unveiled in December was the Quebec Fisheries Fund (QFF). The five-year program will provide $42.8 million in funding to increase opportunities and value for sustainably sourced, high quality fish and seafood products from Quebec. The federal government will contribute $30 million, and $12.8 million will be provided by the government of Quebec.
The value of fish and seafood exports from the province of Quebec was over $462M in 2017.
Launched in 1017, the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF) focuses on growing opportunities and increasing market value for sustainably sourced, high quality fish and seafood products from Atlantic Canada.