Foreign investors are brazenly and illegally buying up Nova Scotia’s iconic lobster fishery according to the country’s national fishermen’s organization.
The Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Federation (CIFHF), which represents fishermen who own and operate their own boats, says foreign interests could soon control Canada’s booming inshore fisheries if nothing is done to stop the problem.
“The government is moving too slowly to deal with this problem. We need urgent action.” Federation President Christian Brun said.
The Federation released a newspaper ad offering to purchase their lobster licences in Nova Scotia’s most lucrative fishing areas on behalf of foreign buyers.
“This is against Atlantic Canadian policy in the Fisheries; the only person who can own an inshore lobster fishing licence is a Canadian inshore fisherman; someone who lives in a fishing community and goes to work on a fishing boat which he or she owns and operates, Brun said.”
“Domestic and international investors are breaking the law and advertising it in newspapers!”
Canada’s fisheries have gone through a decade of unprecedented growth as a result of healthy stocks and strong international demand for the high quality products from the inshore fishery. Last year seafood exports in Nova Scotia surpassed $1.4 billion making seafood the province’s largest export sector, seven times the value of natural gas exports. In Newfoundland and Labrador seafood export were also valued at over $1.2 billion, up 15.0 per cent from the same period in 2014.
“Our fisheries resources are strategic national assets no different than oil and gas, potash or minerals or Vancouver real estate. They need to be protected for the benefit of Canadians especially those that depend on fishing for their livelihoods” Brun said.
Brun said corporate influence over inshore fishing licences is widespread in Nova Scotia’s lucrative shellfish fisheries and also in Newfoundland.
The Federation is calling on the Federal government to make changes to the Fisheries Act to protect fishermen and fishing communities as well as habitat. The organization also calls the government to use more aggressive means to stop those that are currently violating Fishery policies.
“If the government continues to ignore the problem there will be a massive shift in the distribution of the wealth away from fishermen and coastal communities towards investors in urban areas and other countries,” Brun said. “It will create an intergenerational employment crisis in fishing communities and permanently reverse the social and economic achievements of past policies in the fishery.
“We should not forget that only a few generations ago the benefits of the fishing industry were not in fishermen’s hands. Investors around the world would like to see these times again. We need to be very vigilant… and proactive.”