MONTREAL (GNB) – The Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture ministers met in Montreal on Jan. 21 to exchange views on a broad range of priorities, including marine protected areas, the Fisheries Act, market access for Canadian fish and seafood, and sustainable aquaculture development.
The meeting was co-chaired by federal Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Hunter Tootoo and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Attendees included ministers responsible for fisheries from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nunavut, along with representatives from Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon and Quebec.
“Labour, market access, and the modernization of our processing plants are issues of great importance to New Brunswick’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and we ensured those concerns were heard,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “I welcome the opportunity to work with our federal and provincial partners on these priorities to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for these industries that provide important jobs for our rural coastal communities.”
The ministers exchanged views on priorities such as: increasing the proportion of the country’s marine and coastal areas that are protected, increasing funding to support federal programs for ocean and freshwater science and monitoring, and reviewing the Fisheries Act to improve protection for fish and fish habitat.
Market access was also discussed, focussing on fish and seafood opportunities associated with trade agreements. The ministers also discussed access initiatives for aboriginal communities and the sealing industry to market their seal products to the European Union and other markets. They also discussed challenges with labour availability in the fish and seafood sector.
The ministers recognized that aquaculture represents significant opportunities for employment, economic growth and prosperity in remote, rural, coastal and aboriginal communities across Canada. They acknowledged that further development of the sector can be done in a sustainable manner while respecting the environment and commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries.
The ministers also discussed the damaging impact of aquatic invasive species on fisheries, infrastructure, and the environment. They acknowledged the importance of working together to explore ways to lessen the impact and reduce the threat of further spread of aquatic invasive species already in Canada.
Officials in federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to work together to identify approaches to advance common goals and priorities in the coming months.
- In 2014, Canada exported $4.9 billion of fish and seafood products, an increase of 11 per cent from 2013.
- The European Union has been the world’s largest importer of fish and seafood. These imports account for 60 per cent of total European Union fish and seafood consumption.
- Aquaculture accounts for nearly 50 per cent of seafood consumed worldwide. By 2030, it is estimated that demand will exceed supply by 40 million tonnes.
- Aquatic invasive species have significantly reduced or entirely eliminated certain indigenous fish stocks in Canada. In addition to the environmental damage, invasive species cost billions of dollars every year due to lost revenue, infrastructure damage, and the implementation of control measures.
Elaine Bell, communications, Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, 506-453-8607.