HALIFAX STANFIELD: A third of a billion dollars is coming to Atlantic Canada thanks to the federal government’s new Atlantic Fisheries Fund.
On March 10, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Dominic LeBlanc was at Halifax Stanfield Airport to make the official announcement that Ottawa will invest $325 million into the fish and seafood sector.
“Together we are committed to growing the regions commercial fishing and seafood sector in ways that’s economically prosperous, environmentally responsible, and globally competitive,” said Leblanc during the news conference.
The industry, which employees 58,000 people, had a landed value of almost $3 billion in 2015, Leblanc said.
The fund will be used to drive innovation, find new ways to harvest and process fish that would create more jobs in small coastal communities, and market the products in the international market place, helping producers take full advantage of the new market opportunities presented by the ratification of the Canada-European Trade Agreement.
Although no Atlantic province has officially signed on to the agreement, representatives from three of the provinces were in attendance at the announcement, including New Brunswick deputy premier Stephen Horsmen; Prince Edward Island Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac; and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. A separate announcement was made later in the day in Newfoundland by federal cabinet representative, Judy Foote.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our region,” said McNeil, “80 per cent of Canada’s seafood comes out of Atlantic Canada, and we should be proud of that fact and we should promote it.
Not only is 80 per cent of Canada’s seafood coming out of Atlantic Canada, 80 per cent of the best seafood in the world comes out of Atlantic Canada.”
This fund is entirely new money from the federal government, and does not require the provinces to match the contributions.
Ottawa plans to work in partnership with provinces, industry, labour organizations, and indigenous communities to understand their priorities, address challenges and support potential projects and activities.
“This announcement is one that we can build on, one that we can partner with our own programs that we have here, partner with the private sector to continue to make sure that Atlantic Canada is seen as an innovative place to be, is seen as a part of the country that is ready to co-operate with the national government to maximize what we have here,” said McNeil.
“This Atlantic Fishers fund will allow us to put an Atlantic stamp on a Canada brand.”
Futher details on the Atlantic Fisheries Fund will be provided in the coming months.