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⇧Part I Overview and main indicators
Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.
Country briefPrepared: May 2013
Fisheries and aquaculture are managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It is the lead federal government department responsible for developing and implementing policies and programmes in support of Canada's economic, ecological and scientific interests in oceans and inland waters. This mandate includes responsibility for the conservation and sustainable use of Canada's fisheries resources.
Canada’s commercial fisheries operate in three broad regions: along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and inland (mainly near the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg). The last decade has witnessed major changes in the Canadian commercial fisheries on both coasts. The Atlantic Ocean component of the fishery is the most important by a wide margin (about 81 percent of total capture production). The structure of the Canadian fishing industry ranges from a multitude of small operators to a relatively small number of large vertically-integrated companies. An estimated 20 300 fishing vessels operated in marine waters in 2010, the great majority of them (over 84 percent) in the Atlantic.
Rights-based systems form the basis of management in Canadian fisheries. There are enterprise allocations/individual quota systems in which participants seek to maximize individual financial profitability and stability, and exercise flexibility and freedom in planning and conducting their own fishing activities through securing individual rights to fish a portion of the total allowable catches.
The fisheries and aquaculture sector provided direct jobs for about 54 500 persons in 2009. There has been a modest decline in the number of persons employment in capture fisheries from 51 900 persons in 2000 to 50 900 persons in 2009. An additional 29 000 persons are considered to be employed in fish processing .
Total fisheries production in 2011 was 1 023 800 tonnes of which 84 percent came from capture fisheries and the balance from aquaculture. After the collapse of the Atlantic cod stock in the early 1990s, total marine catches increased steadily from 815 000 tonnes in 1995 to a peak of about 1.2 million tonnes in 2004. Since then the trend has reversed and in 2011 marine capture production totaled 0.86 million tonnes.
Aquaculture is undertaken in all ten Canadian provinces as well as the Yukon Territory. Production of Atlantic salmon, chinook salmon, trout, Arctic char, blue mussel, oyster and clam are well established. Several other species, including halibut, sturgeon, tilapia, sablefish and scallop are at various stages of development. The total aquaculture production in 2011 of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, etc. was 162 400 tonnes, valued at approximately USD 846 million. Some seaweed, including the edible nori, is farmed commercially on the Atlantic coast, but production is yet to be registered in national statistics.
Recreational fishing is highly developed in Canada. Most of the recreational fishing is in inland waters (about 95 percent) however, there is with a very strong focus on marine salmon fishing in Western Canada. It is an important economic activity.
Canada is a net exporter of fish in value terms. In 2012 exports were valued at USD 4.2 billion while imports at USD 2.7 billion, giving a surplus of approximately USD 1.5 billion.
Per capita fish apparent consumption in Canada in 2010 was estimated at around 22.6 kg.
The global economic crisis has resulted in new government programmes designed to alleviate the difficulties that fishing communities are facing. Many communities have taken advantage of government grants to invest in infrastructure projects (e.g. roads, bridges and harbours) and employment initiatives (e.g. aquaculture, whale watching tours, eco-tourism, fishing charters, offshore oil and gas, mining). The crisis and government response have served as a catalyst for economic diversification. The fishing industry is responding through better organization, innovation and technological efficiencies.
There is potential for significant increases in Canadian aquaculture production to increase domestic supplies and create export opportunities. The Canadian Government estimates that by 2020 production in Canada could exceed 308 000 tonnes with a farmgate value of USD 1.6 billion. Future significant growth in Canada’s aquaculture industry will require policies and regulations that protect the environment while ensuring the economic viability of the sector in an increasingly competitive international arena.
Canada is a signatory of the UN Law of the Sea Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
General geographic and economic indicators
Table 1 – Canada - General geographic and economic data
**Per capita calculated by FAO and converted as per UN currency exchange rate
Source: FAO Country Profile
FAO Fisheries statisticsThe tables and graphs in this section are based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Statistics and Information Unit and disseminated in 2012.
Table 2 – Canada - Fisheries data
Figure 1 – Canada - Total fishery production
Figure 2 – Canada – Composition of marine capture production - 2011
Figure 3 – Canada – Production of aquatic plants
Figure 4 – Canada – Capture production
Figure 5 – Canada – Major species groups in capture production
Figure 6 – Canada - Aquaculture production
Figure 7 – Canada - Major species groups in aquaculture production
Figure 8 – Canada - Import and export value of fish and fishery products
Figure 9 – Canada - Major species groups in import
Figure 10 – Canada - Major species groups in export
Figure 11 – Canada - Per capita supply of fish and fishery products
Figure 12 – Canada - Composition of total fish food supply -2010
Updated 2010⇧Part II Narrative
Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.
Production sectorCanada has fisheries in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans as well as in inland freshwater lakes. Landings in the Atlantic are by far the largest1, followed by those in the Pacific and in freshwater lakes. A few hundred tonnes are reported as being caught in the Arctic Ocean. Landings in the Atlantic were close to 800 000 tonnes in 19502, increased irregularly to almost 1 800 000 tonnes in 1990 before declining steeply to slightly less than 700 000 tonnes in 1995 as a result of the collapse of groundfish stocks. Landings in the Atlantic have since increased to above 1.1 million tonnes. In the Pacific, landings have been highly irregular, fluctuating between a maximum of nearly 350 000 tonnes in 1963 to 85 000 tonnes in 1969. Recent landings in the Pacific have been around 200 000 tonnes. Inland landings increased from 30 000 tonnes in 1950 to 66 000 tonnes in 1962 and have been decreasing irregularly since to about 30 000 tonnes in recent years.
While the landings decreased markedly in the Atlantic in the early 1990s, the landed value remained around 1 billion CAD over that time. Landed value increased subsequently to 1.9 billion CAD in 2003-2004, before decreasing to about 1.5 billion CAD in recent years. The landed value in the Pacific decreased irregularly from about 500 000 CAD in the early 1990s, to approximately 300 000 tonnes in recent years. The landed value for inland fisheries has fluctuated without trend between 64 and 94 million CAD.
(2) FAO FishStat Plus Marine sub-sectorFisheries on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada are very different. The fisheries of the Atlantic coast have historically been dominated by large volume fisheries for demersal (mostly cod, haddock and flatfishes) and small pelagic fisheries (mostly herring). Fisheries on the Canadian Pacific coast have been more diversified in terms of species (many species of rockfishes) and salmon fisheries are also more important on the Pacific coast. While the fishery sector is locally important on both coasts, it is a relatively minor part of the economic activity regionally or nationally.Catch profileCod was a mainstay of the Atlantic fishery for centuries, but since the collapse of the groundfish stocks in the early 1990s, Atlantic herring, northern prawn, snow crab, sea scallops, lobster and mackerel have surpassed cod. In the Pacific, Pacific hake, Pacific herring, various rockfishes and salmon (chum, pink, sockeye) as well as Pacific halibut are the dominant species. In inland waters, lake whitefish, walleye, pond smelt, American yellow perch, northern pike, and alewife are the main species.Landing sitesFor the Atlantic, the main landing ports in terms of values in 2008 were Harbour Grace, Newfoundland (CAD 63.2 million), Lower West Pubnico, Nova Scotia (CAD 41.0 million), Shelbure, Nova Scotia (CAD 40.4 million), Bay Roberts, Newfoundland (CAD 39.2 million), Shippagan, New Brunswick (CAD 31.5 million), St. Anthony (CAD 29.5 million), Argentia, Newfoundland (CAD 26.6 million), Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (CAD 26.5 million), Woods Harbour, Nova Scotia (CAD 25.2 million) and St. John's, Newfoundland (CAD 25.0 million). Of the other Canadian provinces in the Atlantic, the largest landed value was in Tignish, Prince Edward Island (CAD 19.7 million) in 11th position and Rivière-au-Renard, Quebec (CAD 19.1 million) in 14th position.
For the Pacific, the main landing ports in terms of values in 2008 were all in British Columbia: Port Hardy (CAD 46.7 million), Vancouver (CAD 45.1 million), Prince Rupert (CAD 32.6 million), Ucluelet (CAD 23.8 million), Richmond, (CAD 22.9 million), and Port Edward (CAD 22.2 million).Fishing practices/systemsThe number of fishing vessels in the Atlantic fisheries declined steadily from 1988 to 2007. Most of the decline occurred between 1988 and 1997. The decline was fastest for the smallest and the largest vessels. However, it seems that some of the small vessel owners might have replaced their vessels by slightly larger ones, while amongst owners of vessels larger than 65 feet (or about 20 m) the trend was the opposite. Some have replaced their vessels by smaller ones.
Table 3 - Canada Atlantic fisheries: number of fishing vessels
These length categories are the basis for the allocation of catch opportunities (e.g. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/commercial/qr-rc/2008/amp-eng.htm andassociated excel file). The larger vessels (>65’) fish mostly a mix of groundfishes (cod, redfish, black halibut, yellowtail), while the smaller vessels are multipurpose and the more successful ones fish a variety of species including shrimp and snow crab. Many of these vessels can fish either mobile gear or fixed gear. There is a small number of purse seine vessels dedicated to herring and mackerel fishing.
In the Pacific, there were close to 20 000 fishing licences from 1985 to 1995; the number declined abruptly during 1996-1998 and have been around 8 500 licences during 1998 and 2004.
Table 4 - Canada - Pacific fisheries: number of fishing vessels
Integrated fisheries management plans were introduced in the late 1990s in most Atlantic fisheries. The Fishery Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) reviewed those for Atlantic herring in 2009 and found them to be lacking. More specifically, the FRCC noted that the integrated fisheries management plans should be standardized and they should include a description of the main goals, objectives, measures and institutional arrangements that will be used to achieve them.
Fishing communitiesFishermen in Canada are well organized with large unions in Newfoundland (Fish Food and Allied Workers http://www.ffaw.nf.ca/) and in the Maritimes (http://www.mfu-upm.com/home.cfm). A number of smaller organizations exist and several are members of the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters (http://www.ccpfh-ccpp.org/e_Members.asp?cs=members).Inland sub-sectorInland or freshwater commercial fisheries in Canada are relatively small in terms of catches and value. With lakes ranging in size from a few square kilometres to more than 82 000 square kilometres (Lake Superior), the vessels are equally diverse - from tracked snow vehicles and small, open boats (5 to 8 m) powered by outboard engines, to about 300 larger vessels (12 to 25 m) which fish in the Great Lakes, other large bodies of water in western Canada and the Northwest Territories. Aquaculture sub-sectorInformation on aquaculture production in Canada for 1986 to 2007 can be found at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/aqua/aqua-prod-eng.htm and key facts on aquaculture in Canada can be obtained at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/stats/index-eng.htm. Various attempts at developing aquaculture have been undertaken from as early as the 19th century, but it is only during the last 30 years that aquaculture in Canada has taken significant importance. In 1986, slightly more than 10 000 tonnes worth 35 million CAD were produced. Production and value increased linearly, almost without interruption since, to 170 000 tonnes worth 850 million CAD in 2007. Production and value increased at the same rate except in 2000 and 2001 when production increased, but value decreased, and in 2003-2004 when both production and value decreased. The largest contributor to production and value are salmon, with mussels and oysters in second place. British Columbia (47 percent) and New Brunswick (32 percent) are by far the most important players in the Canadian aquaculture industry. It is estimated (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/stats/index-eng.htm) that the gross value added has been in the order of 200 million CAD during 1991-2005, and that there were 3 900 jobs in the sector in 2005 with total salary slightly in excess of 100 million CAD.
The 2007 aquaculture production consisted of: salmon (117 306t), trout (4 899t), other finfish (7 745t), clams (1 611t), oysters (13 711t), mussels (23 692t), scallops (111t) and other shellfish (240 tonnes).Recreational sub-sectorMost of the recreational fisheries in Canada occur in freshwater but there are also some recreational fisheries in marine areas. The most recent survey of recreational activities was conducted in 2005 (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/rec/can/2005/annexea-eng.htm). The survey indicated that almost 3.6 million anglers fished almost 43 million days in 2005, they caught more than 215 million fish and kept almost 72 million as several fisheries are under catch and release programs. It is estimated that recreational fishers spend directly close to 2.5 billion CAD in 2005.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationMost fish catches in Canada are landed fresh at home ports. However, some halibut and rockfish on the Pacific coast are taken to US ports. During the late 1980s and the 1990s, over-the-side sales to foreign vessels provided inshore fishers with buyers during glut periods but these have been phased out.Fish marketsThe main markets for Canadian fish and seafood are the United States, Japan and Europe. The United States remains the largest among these markets. Between 2004 and 2006, the US market has absorbed on average two-thirds of Canadian seafood product exports (in terms of value). The European market (mainly the United Kingdom and Denmark) came second with 14 percent of the export value, followed by Japan with 8 percent. Finally, 7 percent of Canadian exports of fish and seafood went to China in 2006.http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/commercial/cfs/2006/cfs06-eng.htm
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe fisheries sector makes a small contribution to the overall Canadian GDP, but locally it is often the only source of employment in many small coastal communities, mostly on theAtlantic coast. Fisheries provide seasonal employment which gives access to the Canadian social security network. While this is helpful to individuals and communities, the FRCC has concluded in its report on Atlantic lobster that it can complicate fisheries management.Supply and demand
Given that Canada has an export surplus of fishery products, and a growing aquaculture sector, there is no scarcity of resources for supplying the local market. Future supply is not in jeopardy as long as there is economic efficiency in operations.
Canadians are big consumers of fishery products at 23.1 kg per person of seafood per year (Canadian fisheries statistics 2006). This is significantly higher than the world average.TradeIn 2008, Canada exported more than 630 000 tonnes worth nearly 3.9 billion CAD. The countries receiving the largest volume of exports were the United States of America (USA) (328 000 tonnes), China (51 700 tonnes), Japan (42 400 tonnes) and the Russian Federation (38 000 tonnes). By value, the most important traders were the USA (2.4 billion CAD), Japan (295 million CAD), China (260 million CAD), the United Kingdom (UK) and the Russian Federation (both at nearly 90 million CAD).
For the same year (2008), Canada imported 470 000 tonnes worth more than 2.2 billion CAD. In volume terms, the main suppliers of fishery products to Canada were: the USA (169 000 tonnes), Thailand (62 000 tonnes), China (58 000 tonnes), Peru (54 000 tonnes) and Chile (19 000 tonnes). In value terms, the main suppliers were: the USA (820 million CAD), Thailand (333 million CAD), China (315 million CAD), Chile (115 million CAD) and Vietnam (103 million CAD).
The economic performance of Canada’s fishery sector is closely linked to the exchange rate with the US dollar, and a good part of the year-to-year variation is due to fluctuations between the Canadian and US currencies (Canadian Fisheries Statistics 2006).
More details on Canadian imports and exports can be found at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/trade-commerce/can-eng.htm.Food securityFood security is not an issue for most Canadians, except for inhabitants of Labrador, northern Québec, northern Ontario, northern Manitoba, the Nanavut and the Northwest Territories. In those areas, seafood, including marine mammals, constitutes a large component of the diet.EmploymentMost of the employment in the fisheries sector is in the harvesting part of the business (about 51 500 in 2006), in processing plants (28 600) and in aquaculture (4 000).Rural developmentAs indicated above under the economic role of fisheries in the national economy, fisheries in Canada play a social role in providing the only source of employment in many rural communities.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesFisheries are fully developed in Canada, and except for a few limited niche markets for specialty products there is little room for fishery development. As suggested above in section 3.2.3 on fishing production means, the number of vessels involved in Canadian fisheries has decreased substantially over the last 15-20 years. This was partially the result of the introduction of ITQs in several fisheries in order to decrease fishing capacity and increase the profitability of the fishery sector.Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesWhile there may remain a few species whose potential has not been reached, most fishery resources in Canada have been fully or overdeveloped. Therefore, recent efforts have tended to rationalize the fleets to make them more economically efficient. Various forms of Individual Transferable Quotas have been introduced on both coasts and profitability has increased. The Canadian government’s vision is to provide “Excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters”, its mission is “to deliver to Canadians Safe and Accessible Waterways; Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems; and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture” and the Department of Fisheries’ mandate “On behalf of the Government of Canada, DFO is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada’s scientific, ecological, social and economic interests in oceans and fresh waters” (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/us-nous/vision-eng.htm).Research, education and trainingResearchThe Department of Fisheries and Oceans of the federal Canadian government is responsible for the government research programs upon which decisions concerning the assessment, management and development of the nation’s fisheries and fish habitats are based. Research is conducted in fifteen strategically-located science facilities served by an active fleet of research vessels. Various scientific studies, economic and policy research are also conducted by universities across Canada and by the fisheries ministries of Provincial Governments. The main research institutes are: the Institute of Ocean Science (http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/facilities-installations/ios-ism/index-eng.htm), the Pacific Biological Station (http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/facilities-installations/pbs-sbp/index-eng.htm), the Center for Aquaculture and Environmental Research (http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/facilities-installations/caer-crae/index-eng.htm) ), the Cultus Salmon Research Laboratory (http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/facilities-installations/cultus/index-eng.htm), the Freshwater Institute Science Laboratory, the Bayfield Institute, the Sea Lamprey Control Centre, the Experimental Lakes Area, the Resolute Bay Laboratories (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/regions/central/facilities-installations-eng.htm#Freshwater_Institute) the Maurice Lamontagne Institute (http://www.qc.dfo.ca/iml-mli/institut-institute/index-eng.asp), the St. Andrews Biological Station (http://www.mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/SABS/Home) the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, the Mactaquac Fish Culture Station(http://www.mar.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/mactaquac/macstart.html), the Gulf Fisheries Center, and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Center (http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/e0004341).Education and trainingEducation is largely under provincial responsibility in Canada and vocational training in fisheries is provided in most provinces. Those include the Marine Institute in Newfoundland, the Nova Scotia College of Fisheries, the Prince Edward Island Veterinary College, the École des Pêches de Shippagan in New Brunswick, the École des Pêches de Grande-Rivière and the Institut de Marine de Rimouski in Québec.
Undergraduate and graduate degrees in fisheries are offered at universities on both Atlantic and Pacific coasts. On the Atlantic coast, the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland offers diplomas and a Masters in fisheries resources management. There is also a fish harvesting certificate. On the Pacific coast, Vancouver Island University grants diplomas, and undergraduate degrees, in fisheries and aquaculture. Among the required courses are disease, genetics, ichthyology, fisheries management and zoology. Another undergraduate program (a Wildlife and Fisheries Major) is offered at the University of Northern British Columbia. MSc and doctoral degrees in subjects such as ecosystem restoration in fisheries, fisheries economics, marine ecosystems and quantitative modeling are offered through the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia.Foreign aidCanada used to provide substantial fisheries aid programs, helping developing countries improve their fisheries science, fisheries management, fisheries processing, and fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance capabilities. However, over the last 10-15 years, Canada involvement in fisheries related aid programs has decreased considerably (http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/home).
Institutional frameworkThe Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans has sole authority to conserve Canada’s aquatic resources and manage their harvesting. Provincial governments have authority on the sales and processing of the fishery resources once they are landed. DFO, therefore, plays a major role in fisheries management (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/peches-fisheries/index-eng.htm). The Department has 6 administrative regions: Pacific (http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/index-eng.htm), Central and Arctic (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/regions/central/index-eng.htm), Québec (http://www.qc.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/index-eng.asp), Gulf, Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador (http://www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/e0004341). Processes vary by region and fisheries, but generally, advisory processes are set up by species (e.g. shrimp, lobster, scallops, snow crab, etc.) or by species groups (small pelagics, large pelagics, groundfish, etc.) for relevant areas with subsidiary committees on a smaller regional scale as needed. Under current legislation, however, these are purely advisory and the final decision rests with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
The DFO covers all the aspects related to fisheries conservation and management, including policy development and analysis, scientific and economic research, fisheries management per se, monitoring, control and surveillance, the collection of statistics, the safety of fishing vessels and the patrol of Canadian waters (the Canadian Coast Guard is part of the DFO).
Canada adheres to several international agreements on fisheries and participates actively in Regional Fishery Management Organizations. They host in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), which is responsible for the management and conservation of several fishery resources in the Atlantic waters outside the EEZ of coastal members (Canada, Denmark, France and the US) (http://www.nafo.int).
Legal frameworkThe fisheries and aquaculture industries are overseen in Canada by a combination of federal, provincial and local authorities. In recent years, both the federal and provincial governments have been striving towards a more efficient regulatory framework, balancing the need to protect the environment, sustain fisheries, and enable a competitive industry to flourish.
DFO manages fisheries (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/peches-fisheries/index-eng.htm) in accordance with the roles and responsibilities outlined in the Fisheries Act (http://lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/F-14/index.html). The Fisheries Act was originally adopted in 1985 and it has been regularly updated since. The Canadian government attempted to adopt a new Fisheries Act to make it more compatible with modern concepts of sustainability and current best practices in fisheries management most recently in 2007-2008 and prior to that in 2003-2004 but these attempts were not successful.
Among other shortcomings, the existing Fisheries Act limits the possibility of DFO to enter into shared stewardship agreements.
FAO Thematic data bases