The women and men of Canada’s fisheries are the backbone of our coastal, rural and Indigenous communities. They feed millions of households across the country and around the world. In 2019, Canada exported $7.4 billion worth of seafood.
On World Fisheries Day, we celebrate the hardworking women and men of Canada’s fisheries. Indigenous and non-indigenous harvesters who employ crew members from their communities, or work with their relatives in the family business.
Covid-19 has shown us the resilience and dedication of Canada’s fish harvesters. Throughout the pandemic, thousands continued to fish, keeping our economy strong and grocery freezers stocked. They took meticulous precautions to keep each other, and their communities safe.
To ensure that these women and men had the support they needed during this challenging time, we created the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program. This program was designed to meet the unique pay and seasonal structure of the industry. It helped harvesters keep crew members on payroll and cover their operational expenses. It allowed them to continue fishing without worrying about the changing market or the expense of PPE. More than 18,000 fishers, across every province and territory, have received over than $126M in financial support through the Program.
These investments are more than just seeing harvesters through this pandemic. We are investing in this industry so it is well positioned to recover and grow after the pandemic. This year Canadians stepped up to buy more Canadian seafood, lending a hand to their neighbours.
At the same time, investments like the Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund and the Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund, helped our seafood sector adapt to the changing consumer habits.
On World Fisheries Day we are reminded of how important this industry is to Canada. Independent fish harvesters, both indigenous and non-indigenous, put food on our tables, they create good-paying jobs, and they generate billions for our national economy. As Canada looks for ways to build back better, our fisheries have shown us a true example of resilience and perseverance.