ST. JOHN'S, NL, Dec. 5, 2018 /CNW/ - Bordered by three oceans, Canada is home to the longest coastline in the world. Our marine resources support hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs and rich ecosystems of abundant marine wildlife from coast to coast to coast. Today, federal, provincial and territorial fisheries Ministers committed to making sure they are sustainably managed in a way that supports the economic prosperity of communities across Canada.
The Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) met in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, and over the past two days had productive discussions about their shared priorities and goals. Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources for Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Gerry Byrne, co-chaired the meeting attended by their counterparts and representatives from all provinces and territories.
The fish and seafood sector is important to our national food security, and to the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of coastal, rural and Indigenous communities in Canada, employing approximately 80,000 people. Canada exported $6.9 billion worth of fish and seafood in 2017, of which about 65% went to the United States. Ministers renewed their commitment to developing new trading opportunities, and further promoting markets that have opened up through new trade agreements.
They launched the new $42.85 million Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund. This cost-shared fund (70% federal and 30% provincial/territorial) will promote market access and development for the fish and seafood industry, thereby increasing fish and seafood exports, growing well-paid middle class jobs and supporting coastal and inland communities.
Aquaculture was a key topic of conversation. Ministers directed officials to develop federal legislation with limited scope that respects federal, provincial and territorial jurisdiction and provides greater clarity to the sector. Such federal legislation would continue to ensure that Canada's aquaculture industry is a global leader in producing high-quality aquaculture products in an environmentally sustainable manner.
CCFAM members recognized the challenges facing our oceans and other bodies of water – including plastic pollution, abandoned or lost ghost gear, and climate change – and agreed that greater collaboration is needed among industry, Indigenous communities, not-for-profit organizations and others to ensure that this rich resource is available for future generations. The Ministers also discussed Canada's endangered whale populations and the substantial federal investments to enhance their protection.
All CCFAM members agreed on the importance of marine conservation and engaging with Indigenous communities and stakeholders during the planning and development of marine protection initiatives. CCFAM Ministers noted Canada has met the 2017 target of 5% marine conservation and is on track to meet the 10% 2020 commitment; recognizing the balance between the environment and the economy.
They also discussed how to increase collaboration, respect Indigenous rights and better incorporate Indigenous knowledge in the decision-making process. Furthermore, they discussed the need to improve the quality of life in Indigenous communities and take meaningful steps to advance reconciliation.
Ministers are also determined to work together to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species that continue to have significant impacts on some of Canada's native fish stocks, as well as a number of our marine food producing sectors.
Finally, the table discussed the implementation of the new Fisheries Act and agreed to continue to work together on new policy and regulatory tools. CCFAM will meet again in Saskatchewan in 2019.
"My colleagues and I had productive discussions on how we can work together to expand our markets for the fish and seafood industry in a way that will create more jobs and opportunities for Canadians. It is only by working together that we can ensure that we can create more jobs for communities and protect our vast oceans, coasts and waterways now and in the future."
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
"This meeting of Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers reaffirms how all ministers recognize the need to grow and develop our global markets while investing and supporting the efforts of industry partners to ensure our fisheries are sustainably harvested. We see this commitment supported with the new $42.85 million Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund, which will help promote market access and development for the fish and seafood industry."
The Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada
For further information: Jocelyn Lubczuk, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 343 548-7863, [email protected]; Media Relations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-990-7537, [email protected] ; John Tompkins, Director, Communications, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, 709 729-3733, [email protected]