Canada’s Lobster Industry
World-class Seafood Going Worldwide
By Hon. Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Government of Canada
For many Canadians, fishing is not only a way to provide for their family, but a way of life. Vessels venture out into the open waters and return with their daily catch, ready to go to market. Growing up on Prince Edward Island, it was lobster that lined the wharves in my hometown.
Now, as Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I have come to realize how valuable lobster is not only to P.E.I., but to all of Eastern Canada.
Lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export; valued at more than $1 billion annually. Our total lobster landings are higher than they have ever been in the past century, and this upward trend is continuing. Since 2008, our fishermen have landed more than 50,000 tonnes of lobster a year, and nearly 75,000 tonnes in 2012 and 2013.
Historically, the majority of Canadian lobster exports have been destined for the United States, but various government-lead trade missions have encouraged growth in other markets, including Asia and the European Union.
A few months ago, our Government was proud to announce the conclusion of a Canada- Korea Free Trade Agreement that will eliminate all Korean tariffs on fish and seafood products. This will help us grow the important Korean market – already valued at close to $50 million a year. As evidence of the increasing demand, Korean Air Cargo jets have begun shipping tonnes of lobster from Halifax to Seoul on regularly scheduled flights.
Exports of lobster to China have risen dramatically as well. By August of this year, the value of lobsters shipped to China had hit $55 million, surpassing the $49-million total for all of 2013.
In September, I travelled to Beijing and Hong Kong where I had a chance to promote our Canadian lobster and see the Asia-Pacific lobster market first hand. I was proud to hear from Chinese importers that they have a preference for Canadian lobster and that our product is viewed as world-class.
Our Government has also signed a historic Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union that will open new markets throughout the EU to our exporters, especially those in the seafood industry. With 28 member states, 500 million people and annual economic activity of almost $18 trillion, the EU is the world’s largest economy and the world’s largest importing market for goods.
Every new consumer we reach creates more demand for our world-class product, which is why it is so important that we continue to expand our market shares around the world.
Our Government has consistently done its part in helping grow and protect our lobster fisheries throughout the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec. Conservation measures, including trap limits, season length, size restrictions and more, are tailored to meet the unique needs of each lobster fishery.
Supporting lobster harvesters and their families has always been a priority. Our Government has invested $65 million in the Atlantic lobster industry through the Short Term Transitional Measures program and the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures program.
These programs have laid the foundation for increased sustainability and economic prosperity in the lobster fishery.
As always, our Government will continue to implement measures that will improve the future of the Atlantic lobster industry and help it continue to grow and prosper.
This article originally appears in the Winter 2014-2015 edition of Resources Quarterly.
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