December 8, 2003



Canada Fishing Industry Hit Record High C$2.8 Billion in 2002

Last year, the value of Canada's fishing industry reached a record high of C$2.8 billion, largely due to strong demands internationally for lobster and snow crab, says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Exports of lobster accounted for $1 billion in export sales in 2002, with snow crab raking in C$678 million, according to statistics released by the department last Friday. Farmed Atlantic salmon and shrimp were also top sellers.

Over 1.1 million tons of fish and shellfish were landed in the commercial fisheries sector last year - a decrease of 19% compared with a decade ago. However, the value of the catch is higher.

Shellfish in Atlantic Canada and aquaculture operations in British Columbia have helped pick up the slack in the industry since the collapse of some groundfish stocks, such as cod in the 1990s.

"Our fisheries are an extremely valuable and abundant national resource," Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault said in a news release. "Although the overall performance of Canada's fisheries is often overshadowed by conflict or by specific conservation challenges, the true picture is that this resource is increasing in value."

This year, overall productivity is expected to have remained similar in the commercial fishery.

But the department says the high demand for highly lucrative lobster and snow crab in some areas off Eastern Canada may subside in 2004.

Snow crab stocks are on the downward swing of their natural cycle along Quebec's Lower North Shore, the south coast of Newfoundland and southern Labrador.

The same is true for lobster stocks in areas of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The commercial fishery directly employs about 60,000 Canadians and supports tens of thousands of indirect, industry-related jobs.