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Fisheries and Aquaculture
July 6, 2010

High Level of Commitment to Province's Fishing Industry Ongoing

On the heels of the announcement of significant investment by the Provincial Government for fisheries science research, the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, today outlined multiple investments and initiatives which demonstrate the high level of commitment of the Williams Government to the province's fishing industry, including the fact that the budget for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has increased by approximately 360 per cent since 2003.

"Our government believes that the fishery has a future in Newfoundland and Labrador and we have made the investments necessary to ensure that this will be the case," said Minister Jackman. "We have taken a long-term approach to addressing the underlying issues in the fishing industry. Especially in the midst of global economic crisis, the industry has faced a number of challenges in dealing with international seafood markets. However, our government has responded with solutions that will mitigate similar situations from occurring in the future."

Budget 2010: The Right Investments − For Our Children and Our Future includes $44.1 million for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in total. Of this budget, $14.4 million was allocated for new programs and initiatives.

"Not only is it worthy of note that our budget for fisheries and aquaculture has increased by some 360 per cent since 2003, but also that it exceeds the total budget for these industries in the other three Atlantic Provinces combined," said Minister Jackman.

Most recently, the Provincial Government has invested $14 million in fisheries science research. This includes $11.75 million for a Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research at Memorial University's Fisheries and Marine Institute and also for the charter of the RV Celtic Explorer to conduct sophisticated offshore fisheries research. Another $2 million has been allocated for the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation, for its operations and to carryout applied fisheries and aquaculture research. As well, $200,000 has been allocated for the RV GECHO II inshore research vessel.

A summit with fishing industry stakeholders was held by the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2006. Coming out of this summit, the Provincial Government committed $140 million for a Fishing Industry Renewal Strategy. This includes funding for the financing of licence combining, occupational health and safety, and capital gains exemptions. By the end of the current fiscal year, a total of $6 million dollars will have been expended on fisheries research and development through the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program. The Provincial Government is working with the Federal Government and chartered banks to make revisions to the existing Fisheries Loan Guarantee Program which will result in the assumption of risks of up to $100 million, as part of this strategy.

There has been an investment of $800,000 in a joint Memorandum of Understanding process with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers and Association of Seafood Producers. As part of this process, a steering committee and working groups have been established to provide industry-driven recommendations to the Provincial Government regarding solutions to the long-term structural issues facing the fishing industry. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture will continue to provide support and advice to this process.

Fishery Products International (FPI) Limited was restructured in 2007, with a number of plants and equipment being sold to Ocean Choice International. The marketing arm, including the Burin secondary plant, was sold to High Liner Foods. This saw the reopening of plants in Marystown and Fortune. The agreement provided benefits for workers and communities, and provided an unprecedented agreement with the Federal Government and industry so that adjacent fish would be brought ashore for the benefit of provincial fishing industry participants.

In 2007, Premier Williams appeared on Larry King Live to address false information on the province's sealing industry. Since that year, the Provincial Government has invested $500,000 in sealing industry communications. This funding has supported partnerships with the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers, the Canadian Sealers Association and the Fur Institute of Canada.

In Budget 2010, $6.6 million was allocated for the Aquaculture Capital Equity Program which assists in increasing production of commercial aquaculture products. These funds are in addition to the $9.25 million paid out in previous years to support new salmon aquaculture production on the province's South coast. This program was used to attract world-class experienced aquaculture producers, including Cooke Aquaculture and Gray Aquaculture. As well, Cooke Aquaculture is now the operator at the Harbour Breton seafood processing plant, providing a higher level of production than the plant has ever seen.

In April 2010, the Provincial Government announced that annual processing licensing fees would be reduced from $1.7 million to $300,000 in total, annually. This represents a move to level the playing field for processors in this province with the fees that other seafood processors are paying throughout the Maritimes.

In 2010, the Autonomous Tariff Reduction Quota (ATRQ) was reduced to no tariffs on the first 20,000 metric tonnes of shrimp entering the European Union (EU). This followed an extensive lobby of the European Union on the part of the Williams Government which included several trips to the EU and Ottawa by Premier Williams. This change in the ATRQ opened up more opportunity to build markets for Canadian shrimp in the EU.

The aquaculture industry reached record levels of production in 2009. The market value of the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador has increased to $92 million in 2009, which represented a rise of 45.9 per cent over the previous year. The continued growth and development in this sector has been largely in response to the high level of investment on the part of the Williams Government.

A total of $8.8 million has been allocated for the Centre for Aquatic Animal Health and Development in St. Alban's. Another $500,000 will be spent this year on laboratory equipment for the facility. As well, $10 million has been allocated for aquaculture wharf infrastructure, as part of the biosecure wharves initiative, over a two-year period.

The Provincial Government has allocated $500,000 annually since Budget 2006 for participation in trade shows in developing seafood markets, including Russia and China. Provincial seafood companies have participated in these shows and have been successful in identifying new market opportunities and increasing product sales.

In 2004, the Provincial Government announced the implementation of all the recommendations in the Dunne Report on Fish Processing Licensing Policy, at an annual cost of $1.25 million. This included establishing a new transparent framework for licensing of processing facilities and the Fish Processing Licensing Board, as well as the expansion of the Quality Assurance and Inspection Program, and a new Compliance and Enforcement Division within the department.

"Clearly, the province's fishing industry is an area that continues to receive a high level of investment from our government," said Minister Jackman. "Our vision is one of an appropriately rationalized industry with people working for longer periods of time throughout the year. We must create a fishing industry that will provide attractive incomes and employment opportunities for young people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. We look forward to continuing to work with the industry toward meeting these goals."

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Media contact:

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

2010 07 06                                                       8:45 a.m.

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