There’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about the P.E.I. fishing industry heading into 2018, says Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac.
McIsaac says the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, announced by federal minister Dominic LeBlanc and the four Atlantic fisheries ministers, is like the Growing Forward 2 initiative, a joint federal/provincial/territorial suite of programs in the agriculture industry.
“It was successfully negotiated with the feds and is $38 million for our province over the next seven years,” McIsaac says. “It’s for innovation and development. The projects are being approved at this time, which is great. There has not really been a program like this for many years.”
McIsaac sees the Quality Oyster Aquaculture Program as an example of the success of this approach. He says the program was jointly funded, with the province contributing $200,000, ACOA added $500,000, and the industry contributed $450,000.
“This is five times the funding available previously,” McIsaac says. “It’s quite an initiative and we’re looking forward to big things from that. In the fishery, as in agriculture, things are booming and oysters, I think, are going to lead the way in this. That’s for sure.”
McIsaac says he’s disappointed fishers and processors in other Atlantic provinces aren’t following the lead of their Island counterparts in establishing a marketing levy.
“The sad part is, we would love to have done this as a Canadian lobster or as an Atlantic region lobster; the funding was only gathered by the Island. We have the dollars in place. There’s a lot of work the groups are doing to decide now what they will do with the money, how to spend it, to grow and improve things in the lobster industry.”
McIsaac says the landed value for fisheries and aquaculture in 2016 was $268 million. Lobster alone accounted for 70 per cent of that. The landed value for aquaculture was $45 million, with an economic spinoff on that of $90 million.
“This is a place where there’s great growth potential,” McIsaac says. “We need to work with [the industry] via some of the programs we have, such as the Atlantic Fisheries Fund and stuff like that, that will help.”