January 30, 2014
Quebec City, Quebec
I am delighted to be here in gorgeous Quebec City.
I was honoured to be appointed Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and to be leading this portfolio once again. It was like coming home.
As Minister, I am proud to work for and with our fishermen and fish processors— hard-working businessmen and women who earn a living by providing consumers with top-quality fish and seafood products.
Since 1978, l'Association Québécoise de l'industrie de la pêche has been doing a terrific job giving voice to Quebec’s fish and seafood processors. I commend you on your notable work marketing Quebec’s top-quality fish and seafood products across Canada.
Our Government totally shares your priority about new and expanded markets. The Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is an excellent example.
It’s good news for Canada, it’s good news for Quebec and it is especially good news for companies that process and export Canadian fish and seafood.
The Canada-EU Trade Agreement is our most ambitious trade agreement yet. It will boost commercial ties, create jobs, and generate long-term growth and prosperity.
How? Well, this free trade agreement will provide Canada with preferential market access to the EU’s 500 million consumers and their $17 trillion in annual economic activity.
The European Union is the world’s largest importer of fish and seafood products and our second-largest trade and investment partner. This trade agreement represents a tremendous opportunity for Canada’s fish and seafood sector to gain preferential access to a very lucrative EU market.
So how does it benefit this province? Well, in Quebec, the fish and seafood industry is a key part of the province’s economic engine. The sector provides jobs to more than 7,900 Quebecers and continues to diversify and innovate. 4500 of these jobs are in the processing sector.
The St. Lawrence Estuary — with its mix of fresh and ocean water — and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, produce an abundance of high-quality fish and seafood. From snow crab, lobster and Greenland halibut to scallops, whelk and rock crab, Quebec’s commercial fishing industry generated approximately $400 million last year.
Between 2010 and 2012, this province’s fish and seafood exports to the EU alone, were worth $13.7 million annually.
These exports faced tariffs up to 25 percent.
When the trade deal comes into force almost 96 percent of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood will be duty-free. 100 percent of these tariff lines will be duty-free within seven years.
For example, duties will be eliminated on cooked and peeled shrimp, live lobster, frozen lobster and snow crab.
By eliminating tariffs, the agreement enables Quebec to gain preferential access to the EU market.
This is not something that is enjoyed by our competitors in other countries, which still face tariffs. In fact, this agreement will be the first time the EU will eliminate tariffs on fish and seafood for an exporting country that is as important as Canada.
This will allow Quebec processors to sell more of their goods. Higher sales will lead to more jobs, higher wages and greater long-term prosperity, which directly benefits hard-working Quebecers.
Beyond tariffs, the agreement supports Quebec’s efforts to maintain the highest standards of sustainability, excellence and conservation for its fishing industry. Quebec is internationally recognized for this. The governments of both Canada and Quebec are committed to ensuring sustainable fisheries and aquaculture as well as healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems.
This trade agreement will establish a framework for dialogue with the EU on trade-related sustainable development issues of common interest.
In addition, Canada will maintain its sovereignty and full control of its territorial waters as well as control over granting commercial fishing licences.
Our Government is proud to support Quebec’s fisheries sector in many other ways.
Since 2006, we have made significant investments in small craft harbours in this province. This year alone, we announced more than $10 million dollars in 14 major projects to ensure harbours continue to support the fishing industry and local economies.
We are also working hard, for example, to secure eco-certification for various Quebec fisheries.
DFO fisheries management and science employees contributed to the Marine Stewardship Council eco-certification of the Magdalen Island’s lobster fishery. It was the first Canadian inshore lobster fishery to be certified and to have a precautionary approach put in place.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada also took part in a successful re-evaluation of the Gulf shrimp fishery eco-certification.
DFO secured permanent access to snow crab for groundfish fishermen. Fishermen with temporary access in Area 12 can now benefit from regular permits, which will stabilize their businesses.
We are also working to secure permanent snow crab access on the lower North Shore and we are aiming for modern management regimes with individual quotas and clear rules for quota transfers.
We are proud to have established a fish harvesting industry liaison committee in Quebec. This will enable important dialogue between DFO and its partners. One of the first issues to be discussed is DFO licensing policies.
We also continue to support Quebec’s aquaculture industry through several means, including contributing to the development of a framework for aquaculture in the Magdalen Islands.
I also had the honour to announce our $50 million Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures Program in 2009. It provided support for the industry in developing and implementing sustainability plans.
There have been 17 Sustainability Plans and 32 funding proposals approved, including 4 in Quebec.
As a result, to date 520 fewer harvesters are engaged in the fishery, and by the end of the program there will be more than 200,000 fewer traps in the water.
Additionally, science projects have been undertaken in nearly all participating Areas or sub-areas that will lead to a better understanding of aspects of lobster biology including but not limited to population structures, genetics, larval origin, abundance and transport.
And we continue to work with our provincial partners to protect and develop this province’s fisheries sector.
At the federal level, we’re doing our part to create opportunities that will strengthen your industry. It is up to all of you to harness these opportunities.
Another message that I would like to share with you, before closing, is that I am well aware of challenges facing our fisheries and fish processing industries.
As mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, our Government has supported fishermen by ensuring proper management of fish stocks and by opening new markets worldwide. It will continue to be open to solutions, supported by fishermen that strengthen the economic competitiveness of this traditional pillar of our coastal economy.
Of course, our fishery industry’s wealth is largely correlated to yours. So today, I want to reiterate that I am open to solutions — supported by industry — that strengthen the economic competitiveness of this important pillar of our coastal economy.
The future success of our fisheries requires a balance of economic development, environmental protection, sound scientific data and community involvement – your involvement.
I encourage you to think outside the box and propose ways that your industry can become even more viable and prosperous in the future. I am listening and will continue to work hard on your behalf. I am eager to start the ball rolling on industry-supported changes.
I urge all members of this industry to work together to maximize return in the marketplace.
Together, we can make this industry more profitable and sustainable for our coastal communities and our fish processing industry. Together, we’ll build an industry that lasts well into the future