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Fisheries and the Canadian economy

1.1 Gross value

Total landings from marine commercial fishing in Canada were valued at $1.89 billion (932 thousand tonnes) in 2008. This represents a $70 million (-4%) decrease compared to 2007, owing mainly to decreases in the landed value on the Atlantic coast of herring, mackerel and shrimp respectively and, with the exception of sockeye, of salmon species on the Pacific coast. The value of freshwater fisheries has decreased somewhat with a total value of $59 million in 2008, 7% lower than in 2007.

Overall, aquaculture production fared better than the commercial fisheries. In 2008, the value of aquaculture production increased by $40 million to reach a total of $801 million, which represents an increase of 5% over 2007. This is mainly due to a 6% increase in the production value of farmed salmon and trout.

The gross revenue of the fish and seafood processing industry fell to $3.9 billion in 2008, 4% lower than in 2007. A good part of the year-to-year variation in the value of Canadian seafood production is due to fluctuations between the Canadian and US currencies. This is because an estimated 85% Footnote 1 of Canadian seafood production is exported, primarily to the United States. As such, the relative value of the two currencies plays an important role in determining the annual performance of the Canadian seafood sector, with a weaker Canadian dollar as compared to the US dollar generating higher seafood values.

Table 1.1: Value of the commercial fisheries, aquaculture and processing in Canada, 2006-2008
Industry Production value4 ($m)
2006 2007 2008 % change
Marine fisheries1 1,914 1,959 1,889 -4%
Freshwater fisheries1 68 64 59 -7%
Aquaculture2 913 762 801 5%
Processing3 4,234 4,108 3,931 -4%

1Landed value. Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.
2Production value. Source: Statistics Canada, 2010, Aquaculture Statistics 2009, Catalogue no. 23-222-XIE.
3Source: Statistics Canada, ASML, Table 301-0006, "Seafood product preparation and packaging" category. Total revenues of this sector include costs of purchasing the raw material from fish harvesters, a total cost figure close to the landed value of sea fisheries. Note that the added value from the processing sector in 2008 was estimated at $1,072m by Statistics Canada.
4 To avoid double-counting, one should not add gross revenues of the four sectors shown in this table.

1.2 Employment and GDP by industry

In 2008, employment in the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries declined slightly compared to 2007. The harvesting sector of the commercial fishing industry employed 52,107 fish harvesters and crew members, 1,713 less than in 2007 (-3%). The aquaculture industry employed 4,510 people, approximately 3% more than in 2007.

In 2008, the fish processing industry employed 27,641 workers, 2,584 fewer than in 2007. This represents a decrease of 9%, which is a much higher rate than the decrease in the number of workers employed in the harvesting sectors between 2007 and 2008.

Table 1.2: Employment by industry, Canada, 2006-2008
Industry Employment estimates (number of persons)
2006 2007 2008 % change
Marine and freshwater fisheries1 51,677 53,820 52,1074 -3%
Aquaculture2 4,670 4,370 4,510 3%
Processing3 29,436 30,225 27,641 -9%
Total 85,783 88,415 84,258 -5%

1Number of fish harvesters and crew. Source: DFO, Regional Statistical Units.
2Source: Canada Revenue Agency, Statistics Division.
3Source: Statistics Canada, ASML, Table 301-0006, "Seafood product preparation and packaging" category, Total number of employees, direct and indirect labour (persons).
4Harvester and crew employment from Pacific region is based upon their Fisher Registration Card (FRC) data.

The gross domestic product (GDP) in the Canadian agriculture industry increased by 2% in 2008 compared to 2007. However, the fish harvesting and processing sectors have shown quite different trends, with the rate for fish harvesting remaining relatively static while growth in the processing sector increased by 6%. Overall, between 2007 and 2008, the performance of the Canadian economy increased by just 1%.

Table 1.3: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry1, 2006-2008
Industry GDP, millions of Chained 2002 dollars2
2006 2007 2008 % change
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 27,958 27,570 28,034 2%
Fishing, hunting and trapping3 1,123 1,026 1,022 0%
Processing4 958 894 950 6%
All industries5 1,191,403 1,218,979 1,226,809 1%

1NAICS for the industries shown in this table are 11, 114 and 3117. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 399-0025.
2Note that chained dollars allow to calculate growth rates, but not the contribution of each industry to the total Canadian GDP, as aggregates are not equal to the sum of their components.
3The contribution of fishing to the GDP of this category is estimated at 90% by Statistics Canada.
4Category "Seafood product preparation and packaging" (NAICS 3117).
5Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Table 379-0027.