Statistics For Canada’s 2018 Commercial Fisheries

(Disponible en français : Statistiques de 2018 sur les pêches commerciales au Canada)

In 2018, commercial fisheries, including sea and freshwater fisheries, contributed more than $3.7 billion to Canada’s economy and employed 45,907 people. Fish and seafood processors, which include product preparation and packaging facilities, contributed more than $6.6 billion and employed 26,429 people that year.

Canada’s commercial fisheries are important to the national economy, but they are crucial to rural coastal communities. In fact, the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters has estimated that more than 1,100 Canadian communities rely on commercial fisheries and its spinoff activities.

However, commercial fisheries are not all created equal. Commercial fisheries are as unique as the fishers that fish and the regions they fish in. The management of commercial fisheries is therefore species- and region-specific.

This paper provides an overview of Canadian commercial fisheries: East Coast, West Coast, Arctic, and freshwater. The note explores information such as the top commercially fished species of 2018, export markets and unique aspects of these fisheries.

East Coast Fisheries

This figure presents data on the top three commercially fished species on Canada’s East coast in 2018. The top fished species was lobster, with a landed value of approximately $1.4 billion or 45% of the total landed value. Its major export markets were the United States (68%), China (13%), and South Korea (5%). The second most commercially fished species in 2018 was snow crab, with a landed value of approximately $755 million, which accounted for 24% of the total landed value. Its major export markets were the United States (72%), China (16%), and Japan (5%). The third most commercially fished species in 2018 was shrimp, with a landed value of approximately $365 million, which accounted for 12% of the total landed value. Its top export markets were China (50%), Denmark (14%) and Iceland (9%).

Note: “A ‘landing’ refers to the part of the fish catch that is put ashore. Therefore, the ‘landed weight’ refers to the weight of the catch that is put ashore (usually measured in tonnes) and the ‘landed value’ refers to the value of the catch that is put ashore. See: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Commercial Fisheries.
Sources: Figure prepared by the Library of Parliament using data obtained from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Seafisheries landed quantity by province, 2018; and Government of Canada, Trade Data Online.

  • Landings, by value (2018): $3.17 billion.
  • Total landings, by weight (2018): 608,331
  • Number of commercial fish harvesters registered (2018): 16,332.
  • Number of commercial fishing licences issued (2018): 75,755.
  • Number of vessels registered (2018): 16,079.
  • In 2007, Fisheries and Oceans Canada adopted the Policy for Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries (PIIFCAF) to “ensure that [commercial] inshore fish harvesters remain independent, and that the benefits of fishing licences flow to the fisher and to Atlantic coastal communities.” One purpose of PIIFCAF is to strengthen the existing Fleet Separation and Owner-Operator policies. The Fleet Separation Policy keeps ownership of the fish harvesting sector separate from the processing sector by preventing processing companies from acquiring the fishing licences of inshore vessels (those measuring less than 19.8 m or 65 ft.). The Owner-Operator Policy requires the holders of licences for inshore vessels to be present on the boat during fishing operations.
  • In 2019, the Fisheries Act was amended to add social, economic and cultural factors, and the preservation or promotion of the independence of licence holders in commercial inshore fisheries to the list of criteria that the Minister may consider when making a decision under the Act (section 2.5).

West Coast FisheriesThis figure presents data on Canada’s top three commercially fished freshwater species in 2018. The top fished freshwater species was Yellow pickerel, with a landed value of approximately $38 million or 51% of the total landed value. The second commercially fished freshwater species in 2018 was whitefish, with a landed value of approximately $13 million, which accounted for 17% of the total landed value. The third most commercially fished freshwater species in 2018 was rock bass, with a landed value of approximately $2 million, which accounted for 3% of the total landed value. The top export markets for freshwater species commercially fished in Ontario in 2018 were the United States (93%), China (1%), and Japan (1%). The top export markets for freshwater species commercially fished in Manitoba in 2018 were the United States (82%), Finland (7%), and France (5%). The only export market for freshwater species commercially fished in Saskatchewan in 2018 was the United States.

 

 

Sources: Figure prepared by the Library of Parliament using data obtained from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Seafisheries landed quantity by province, 2018; and Government of Canada, Trade Data Online.

  • Landings, by value (2018): $499
  • Total landings, by weight (2018): 191,227
  • Number of commercial fish harvesters registered (2018): 5,462.
  • Number of commercial fishing licences issued (2018): 6,182
  • Number of vessels registered (2018): 2,351.
  • In contrast with the East Coast’s commercial fisheries licencing scheme, fishing licences on the West Coast can be held by fishers and non-fishers alike. Commercial fishing licences need not be fished by the licence holder and it is permitted for licence holders to lease their licences to others.

Arctic Fisheries

Map of Canada’s Territories and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s Zones 0AB

This figure is a map showing Canada’s three territories; Nunavut is shaded darker than Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s fishing zones 0AB are also outlined on the map and shaded.

Sources: Map prepared by the Library of Parliament, Ottawa, 2019, using data from Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization [NAFO], “Divisions,” NAFO Geographic Information, accessed 3 October 2019; and Natural Resources Canada [NRCan], Administrative Boundaries in Canada – CanVec Series – Administrative Features, 1: 15M, 2019. Software used: Esri, ArcGIS Pro, version 2.4.1. Contains information licensed under Open Government Licence – Canada.

  • Arctic offshore fisheries exist off the coast of Nunavut in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) zones 0AB.
      • The top three species caught in zones 0AB in 2018 were Northern prawn (5,012 tonnes), Greenland halibut/turbot (3,799 tonnes) and Aesop shrimp (55 tonnes).
      • There are no processing facilities servicing the offshore fleet in the Canadian Arctic. Therefore, Arctic catches are generally processed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia or Greenland.
  • The Nunavut Fisheries Association estimates that the offshore fishery in zones 0AB contributed $112 million to the Nunavut economy and supported nearly 1,000 jobs for Nunavummiut in 2019.
  • In 2018, $40.8 million in fish and seafood were exported from Nunavut, all to the United States. However, this amount has been declining from a high of $1.37 billion in 2013, with a decrease in exports to the Asian markets.
  • Arctic char is a lucrative Nunavut inshore fishery. In 2015, 72 tonnes were harvested with a market value of $1.8 million. Arctic char is processed in Rankin Inlet, Pangnirtung and Cambridge Bay.
  • In 2016, the Nunavut Department of Environment released its 2016–2020 Nunavut Fisheries Strategy with seven priority areas: science, governance, access, capacity building, revenue generation, infrastructure and market access.

Freshwater FisheriesThis figure presents data on the top three commercially fished species on Canada’s West coast in 2018. The top fished species was Pacific salmon, with a landed value of approximately $91 million or 18% of the total landed value. Its major export markets were the United States (47%), the United Kingdom (19%), and Japan (12%). It was a tie for the second and third most commercially fished species in 2018, with crab and hake both accounting for landed values of approximately $64 million or 13% of the total landed value. The top crab export markets were the China (92%), the United States (6%), and Singapore (1%). The top hake export markets were the Ukraine (37%), China (21%) and South Africa (11%).

 

Sources: Figure prepared by Library of Parliament using data obtained from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Landings; and Government of Canada, Trade Data Online.

  • Quebec and New Brunswick also have commercial freshwater fisheries; however, given the predominance of the marine commercial fisheries in those provinces, it was impossible to extract export data for freshwater species.
      • In 2018, New Brunswick’s freshwater commercial fishery consisted mainly of alewife, as well as eel with a landed value of $1.21 million.
      • In 2018, Quebec’s freshwater commercial fishery consisted mainly of eel, sturgeon and catfish with a total landed value of $1.17 million.
  • According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a freshwater commercial salmon fishery exists in British Columbia, undertaken by First Nations, as well as an Excess Salmon to Spawning Requirements (ESSR) fishery.
  • Alberta’s commercial fishery has been closed since 2014.
  • The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC), headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, buys, processes, markets, stores and exports freshwater fish, through agreements with the provinces. The FFMC is currently the sole marketer of freshwater fish from the Northwest Territories. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have since opted out of the FFMC but continue to sell their fish to the corporation under contract. Ontario withdrew from the FFMC in 2011 in favour of selling its freshwater fish products on the open market.

Authors: Michael Chalupovitsch, Daniele Lafrance and Thai Nguyen, Library of Parliament