Last Friday, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced a long-awaited decision on the reopening of the commercial redfish fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, known as Unit 1 Redfish. At this stage, the Atlantic Groundfish Council and its members are awaiting more information on the decision to better understand the details.
“During the consultation process, we were pleased to see various stakeholders sharing the view that the significance of historical shares and the investments by existing quota holders should be respected and are an important part of a sustainable and successful Canadian redfish fishery,” noted Sylvie Lapointe, President of the Atlantic Groundfish Council. “Our sector lost 20% of its historical share in this decision. That said, we do appreciate the Minister resisting the unjust calls for more drastic changes to quota shares.”
AGC members are primarily family-owned and Indigenous-owned local companies who employ thousands of Atlantic Canadians in coastal communities. These local companies have already invested almost $100M in vessels and equipment in preparation for the reopening of this commercial redfish fishery in Canada. These investments are part of Atlantic Groundfish Council members’ commitment to provide stable, year-round employment in coastal communities and to harvest high quality seafood responsibly and sustainably.
The Atlantic Groundfish Council has also been leading the multi-faceted strategic promotion of Canadian Redfish in global markets since 2020. To promote Canadian redfish in Europe and Asia, there is a need to produce a broad basket of product forms, including shore-processed fresh and ‘once-frozen’ fillets, as well as H&G and whole frozen-at-sea for markets that prefer this product.
“The global redfish market is highly competitive. Maximizing Canada’s place in this fishery globally is going to take a focused and collaborative effort by all industry participants. I know our members are eager to collaborate with all stakeholders on a sustainable fishery, and that they have extensive redfish harvesting, processing, and marketing experience and expertise to contribute to the collective efforts,” Lapointe added.
The Gulf redfish fishery was developed by offshore harvesters beginning in the 1950s and has long been predominantly harvested by the offshore sector. “Our members and their employees have the deepest history and largest investments at stake in the redfish fishery,” noted Lapointe. “As such, we look forward to participating in the redfish advisory committee and collaborating with other stakeholders to discuss the science results, ways to address gaps in existing knowledge, mitigate fisheries management concerns and the next steps to make this redfish fishery both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.”