Canadian Prime Minister announces half a billion dollars in COVID-19 aid for fishing industry

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Justin Trudeau announced up to CAD 469.4 million in new support for fishery workers and fish farmers in business during pandemic.

In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced nearly half a billion dollars (EUR 310 million) in support to the country’s fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors, through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fish harvesters work hard to provide Canadians with nutritious food to put on their tables, and are a vital part of our food supply from coast to coast to coast. This investment will help ease the burden on the people and businesses at the heart of our fishing and seafood industry. We are here to support them,” said Trudeau.

The package includes the Fish Harvester Benefit, a program worth up to CAD 267.6 million (EUR 176.3 million) to help provide income support for this year’s fishing seasons to self-employed fish workers and sharespersons crew. It will cover 75 per cent of losses for those who expect an income drop of 25 per cent this season, up to about CAD 10,000.

This is on top the CAD 62.5 million, it set aside for Canada’s fish processing sector to adjusts to the pandemic.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan said that “Canada’s fish and seafood harvesters are the driving economic force behind many coastal and rural communities.”

“While hardship and uncertainty are felt across the economy, the fishing sector faces unique challenges that require direct solutions. With this announcement, we are ensuring that Canada’s hardworking fish harvesters get the support they need now and into the future,” she added.

The Canadian wild salmon catch sector has been particularly hit hard. BC’s commercial salmon fishermen had its lowest catch in 70 years in 2019, according to a report from The United Fishermen And Allied Workers’ Union. Its value was 15 million dollars, the lowest landed value paid to fishermen since 1951.

In April, the UK Government announced a GBP 10 million fund for England’s fishing and aquaculture sectors.