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Fisheries and Aquaculture
February 12, 2009

Province Disappointed by Results of Vote on Seafood Marketing Council

The Provincial Government is expressing disappointment at the result of the vote by the seafood processing sector on the proposal for a provincial seafood marketing council. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture offered the seafood processing sector the opportunity to vote on the proposal and they have voted against establishing a council. A provincial seafood marketing council was a key recommendation of the Fishing Industry Renewal Strategy, which was developed after extensive series of consultations with industry. This was an opportunity for processors to enhance their marketing capability and support their sales efforts.

The province committed to provide up to $5.4 million in financial support to initiate such a council for a trial period of three years. In addition, the Provincial Government had already initiated discussions seeking a comparable level of financial support from the Federal Government.

�I�m at a loss to understand why the industry would vote against something that has been a very positive initiative in other seafood producing regions such as Norway and Alaska,� said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. �Our competitors have developed a successful marketing campaign for their seafood products in the global marketplace and I am now going to talk further with the industry as to why our processing sector would not want to do the same.�

On January 19 of this year, voting packages and ballots were mailed out to all seafood processing companies that are licensed in the province. Grant Thornton LLP was hired as an independent auditor by the Provincial Government to review and tabulate the votes. The votes were returned to the auditor and a report was submitted to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture on February 10.

There were two tests to be met in calculating the ballots. A simple majority of more than 50 per cent of those voting was required. As well, yes votes from plants that represent more than the half the production value of seafood in the province were required. Exactly 50 per cent of those voting supported having a provincial seafood marketing council. However, those voting yes represented less than 48 per cent of the production value of seafood in the province.

�Our government had no plan to be either restrictive or prescriptive in the set up or governance of the proposed seafood marketing council,� said Minister Hedderson. �When we consulted with seafood processors last December, we confirmed that the setup of the council would be controlled by industry. It�s our view that the industry had nothing to lose in pursing a three year pilot project to establish and evaluate a provincial seafood marketing council, particularly since it was to be funded by government.�

In 2006, the Provincial Government offered to finance the purchase of the marketing arm of Fishery Products International (FPI) Limited to assist with the marketing of Newfoundland and Labrador seafood products. This offer was also turned down by the processing sector.

In 2007, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture established the Seafood Marketing Review Panel. It was chaired by Alexander (Sandy) Roche who is one of the most respected experts on seafood marketing in the province as a former Executive Vice President of Marketing with FPI Limited and High Liner Foods Incorporated. The review panel also included representatives from the Association of Seafood Producers, Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador and Fish, Food and Allied Workers. The industry was engaged in this initiative from the very early stages.

The Roche report was distributed to the industry and public, and followed up with further consultation with the processing sector. It recommended the province proceed with a seafood marketing council, only with the support of the industry. The report also determined that there is a lack of capacity in seafood marketing in the province right now.

�Certainly our government is disappointed with this result,� said Minister Hedderson. �I now intend to talk with industry and explore further their views as to how we can more effectively market our seafood products.�

A copy of the report may be found at

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Media contact:
Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 690-8403

2008 02 12                                      2:00 p.m.

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