Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture

2.1 Commercial Marine Fisheries

After the decline of Atlantic cod stocks in 1992, the commercial fishing industry on Canada's east coast underwent a period of significant change. In the early 1990s, groundfish played a major role in the fish harvesting and processing sectors in Atlantic Canada, representing almost one-half of all landings in terms of quantity. Over time the predominance of groundfish was reduced to a level whereby in 2011, the catch of groundfish amounted to 13% of the total quantity of landings in Atlantic Canada, and just under 10% of total landings based on value.

While global aquaculture production has continued to increase, fish landings remained static in 2008 as compared to 2007.

Table 2.1: Commercial landings in Atlantic Canada, 2009-2011, selected species
Quantity Value
2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011
Species metric tonnes, live weight thousands of dollars
Groundfish
Greenland turbot 13,709 14,714 13,946 $41,721 $57,596 $59,966
Halibut (Atlantic) 2,387 2,505 2,531 $21,870 $23,183 $28,457
Haddock 23,395 22,401 15,201 $36,921 $30,017 $26,079
Atlantic Cod 19,948 17,257 13,014 $24,697 $19,862 $17,243
Redfish spp. 12,117 13,297 13,800 $8,157 $8,995 $10,577
Total Groundfish 105,635 104,025 88,616 $158,418 $165,647 $169,987
Pelagic & other finfish
Herring 155,178 149,883 134,301 $42,660 $40,248 $38,384
Mackerel 42,231 38,737 11,396 $15,671 $18,458 $10,817
Swordfish 1,299 1,346 1,554 $7,710 $10,457 $10,613
Tuna 708 790 689 $9,724 $9,883 $10,578
Total Pelagic & other finfish 239,994 221,927 183,785 $86,510 $88,118 $87,377
Shellfish
Lobster 58,342 67,277 66,500 $507,292 $575,992 $619,739
Crab, Queen 97,308 84,642 84,139 $313,132 $281,426 $459,147
Shrimp 137,957 164,270 150,776 $190,087 $253,792 $311,921
Total Shellfish 409,779 427,130 413,590 $1,176,834 $1,258,265 $1,557,707
Grand Total1 801,445 799,243 703,905 $1,434,823 $1,528,033 $1,828,714

1Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.

On the Pacific coast, the quantity of landings of salmon and, to a lesser extent, herring have consistently declined since the early 1990s. Salmon and herring landings have declined from almost one-half of the total catch in 1990 to about one-fifth in 2011. Landings of Pacific salmon and herring - based on dock price – have also dropped. Meanwhile, the groundfish catches rose from almost one-half of the total quantity of landings in 1990 to about two-thirds in 2011. In terms of value, groundfish landings doubled from 18% of the total catch in 1990 to 36% in 2011.

Table 2.2: Commercial landings in Canada's Pacific Coast, 2009-2011, selected species
Quantity Value
2009strong> 2010strong> 2011strong> 2009strong> 2010strong> 2011strong>
Species metric tonnes, live weight thousands of dollars
Groundfish
Halibut 4,071 4,124 4,136 $31,617 $36,868 $36,951
Redfish spp. 18,098 17,916 18,039 $18,774 $18,728 $18,746
Hake 55,885 48,013 45,687 $14,797 $11,876 $11,301
Other 4,679 4,031 3,833 $29,733 $25,486 $23,128
Total Groundfish 98,229 87,137 89,975 $104,983 $101,337 $99,584
Pelagic & other finfish
Salmon 18,507 23,568 20,670 $23,724 $70,652 $47,939
Tuna 4,362 4,947 4,535 $11,965 $16,837 $24,256
Herring 12,326 9,528 7,751 $18,033 $10,267 $2,417
Total Pelagic & other finfish 46,219 52,600 46,385 $56,048 $102,309 $76,972
Shellfish
Clams / quahaug 2,175 1,883 1,875 $32,761 $34,887 $35,189
Crab, Other 5,088 4,519 2,943 $32,796 $32,081 $26,996
Sea cucumber 1,270 1,363 1,101 $2,356 $3,751 $3,363
Other 2,864 1,912 2,373 $33,480 $18,317 $32,878
Total Shellfish 14,176 12,540 10,256 $106,530 $93,909 $102,130
Grand Total1 158,787 152,286 146,628 $267,574 $297,556 $278,688

1Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.

In recent years, shellfish on both coasts have replaced other species as the main species harvested. The most important crustaceans harvested in Canada are lobster, snow crab and shrimp. Collectively, these species accounted for two-thirds of the total value of landings of marine species in Canada in 2011.

Due to their relatively high value, shellfish landings have remained stable despite declining quantities of overall landings (Table 2.3). In 2011, shellfish represented over three-quarters of total landings in Canada in terms of value and almost one-half in terms of volume.

Table 2.3: Commercial landings in Canada, selected species, 2009-2011
Quantity Value
2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011
Species metric tonnes, live weight thousands of dollars
Groundfish 203,865 191,162 178,591 $263,401 $266,984 $269,571
Pelagic & other finfish 286,213 274,527 230,170 $142,558 $190,427 $164,349
Shellfish 423,955 439,670 423,846 $1,283,364 $1,352,174 $1,659,837
Lobster 58,342 67,277 66,500 $507,292 $575,992 $619,739
Crab, Snow/Queen 97,308 84,642 84,139 $313,132 $281,426 $459,147
Shrimp 138,549 164,784 151,262 $192,229 $255,497 $313,623
Grand Total1 960,231 951,529 850,533 $1,702,397 $1,825,589 $2,107,402

1Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.

Snow crab landings rose to $459.1 million in 2011, up 63% from $281.4 million in 2010. Lobster landings continued to be Canada's primary commercial species in 2011. Despite a marginal decline in landings in terms of volume, lobster catches were valued at $619.7 million in 2011, up 8% from 2010.

Most other commercial marine species in Canada saw only modest increases in fish landings in terms of value, between 2010 and 2011. This included tuna (+$8.1 million), halibut (+$5.4 million) and whelks (+$2.9 million). Conversely, noticeable reductions in landings were observed among some species such as herring (-$9.7 million), mackerel (-$7.6 million) and haddock (-$3.9 million) over the same period. Footnote 2

2.1.1 Provincial Highlights

Marine commercial fishing occurs in six of ten Canadian provinces and one territory - Nunavut. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia are among the three provinces where fishing has the greatest value, followed by New Brunswick, Quebec and Prince Edward Island and Quebec. British Columbia and New Brunswick also benefit from major aquaculture production (Table 2.4).

In 2011, almost one-third (254,600t) of the commercial marine catch was landed in Nova Scotia, valued at $750.1 million. The main species caught in this province were lobster (50%), snow crab (14%) and scallops (11%) as well as shrimp, haddock, and halibut, that accounted for another 13% of fish landings, in terms of value, in that province.

Table 2.4: Commercial landings by province, marine fisheries, Canada, 2008-2011
Q = tonnes, live weight
V = thousands of dollars
Province 2008 2009 2010 2011
Nova Scotia Q 337,756 315,625 324,614 283,826
V $677,059 $600,702 $650,103 $750,146
Newfoundland and Labrador Q 255,490 292,220 282,977 254,624
V $530,647 $460,981 $510,699 $643,896
British Columbia Q 155,341 158,787 152,286 146,628
V $260,351 $267,528 $296,189 $278,688
New Brunswick Q 96,037 96,408 97,202 81,639
V $169,738 $151,520 $147,296 $175,619
Quebec Q 58,212 61,091 57,087 53,843
V $141,537 $125,093 $120,540 $149,269
Prince Edward Island Q 34,276 36,100 37,363 29,973
V $124,102 $96,585 $99,396 $109,783
Total Q 937,112 960,231 951,529 850,533
V $1,905,391 $1,702,397 $1,825,589 $2,107,402

Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded the second largest commercial landings in 2011, with catches reaching 283,826t, valued at $643.9 million. Between 2010 and 2011, total landed values of lobster, seals and mackerel decreased, while increases were reported for snow crab, shrimp and turbot, leading to an overall increase of 26% in landed values for Newfoundland and Labrador commercial landings in 2011. The main species caught in 2011 were snow crab ($251.0 million) and shrimp ($219.2 million).

British Columbia ranked third, contributing $278.7 million to the total commercial landings in Canada. New Brunswick ($175.6 million) and Quebec ($149.3 million) were in fourth and fifth place respectively. Landings in these two provinces represented 15% of total commercial landings in Canada. Finally, Prince Edward Island was in sixth place with $109.8 million in commercial landings in 2011.

2.1.2 NAFO Fishing Areas in Atlantic Canada

Fisheries in the Atlantic coast are the largest contributors to Canada's fish production, accounting for over three-quarters of the total Canadian catch in 2011. The Southern Scotian Shelf had the highest recorded value of landings during the year (Table 2.5). The Southern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the North-Eastern part Newfoundland also reported significant landings in 2011.

Table 2.5: Commercial landings by NAFO division, Atlantic Canada, 2008-2011
2008 2009 2010 2011
Geographic Area NAFO Division1 thousands of dollars
Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence 4T, 4VN 416,155 336,749 313,065 386,933
Southern Scotian Shelf 4X, 5Y, 6D, 6E 376,105 $342,894 $391,578 $426,218
North-Eastern Newfoundland 2J, 3K, 3L 343,124 $251,746 $295,688 $380,423
Northern Scotian Shelf 4W, 4VS 146,733 $154,055 $159,925 $197,767
Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence 4R, 4S, 3PN 107,366 $96,304 $98,812 $124,582
Georges Bank 5Ze 91,937 $98,548 $90,240 $86,521
Southern Newfoundland 3PS, 3MNO 82,240 $73,478 $73,246 $98,430
Northern Labrador and Baffin Island 2G, 2H, 0A,
0B, 1B
64,304 76,103 $100,767 $127,805
Unspecified - 15,118 5,004 4,712 4,703
Total Atlantic 1,643,082 1,434,881 $1,528,033 $1,828,714

1 The NAFO Convention Area encompasses a very large portion of the Atlantic Ocean and includes the 200-mile zones of Coastal States jurisdiction (USA, Canada, St. Pierre et Miquelon and Greenland).
Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.

2.1.3 Months of Activity in Atlantic Canada

A large part of the catch (74%) on the Atlantic Coast of Canada was landed between April and October in 2011. However, it was in May and June that landings had the greatest value principally due to lobster, shrimp and snow crab. In 2011, landings during these two months were valued at approximately $757.0 million, or 41% of the total catch.

Table 2.6: Commercial landings by month of activity, Atlantic Canada, 2011
Nova Scotia New Brunswick Prince Edward Island Quebec Newfoundland
and Labrador
Total
Month thousands of dollars
January 47,928 3,024 $24 $0 $14,845 $65,822
February 27,830 1,719 $26 $0 $18,147 $47,722
March 26,935 1,310 $8 $698 $19,350 $48,300
April 59,189 12,292 $1,366 $28,296 $80,987 $182,130
May 138,434 52,989 $44,675 $54,516 $152,796 $443,410
June 99,179 34,521 $37,106 $32,745 $109,630 313,182
July $81,341 4,968 1,510 $15,598 $91,234 $194,651
August $35,082 15,989 10,228 8,737 60,193 130,229
September $35,996 13,844 10,917 $6,687 $29,685 $97,130
October $36,416 $5,618 $2,999 1,325 27,336 73,694
November $35,634 $20,836 $786 $596 $24,726 $82,578
December $126,182 $8,509 $137 72 14,967 149,868
Total $750,146 $175,619 $109,783 $149,269 $643,896 $1,828,714

Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics.

Landings are relatively high in terms of volume between December and March in most provinces, except New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec where most landings occur mainly during the months of April to June. In Newfoundland and Labrador, relatively higher fish landings occur from April through August, with higher landed values from May to July. The volume of landings in Nova Scotia is high from May through September whereas the value of fish landings is the highest from November to January (Table 2.6).

2.1.4 Fishing Gear

In 2011, almost two-thirds of the landings from commercial fisheries on the Atlantic coast were captured with pots and traps (Table 2.7). Pots and traps were also the primary fishing gear in the Pacific coast. Species caught using trawling gear, was the second largest contributor to landings in 2011, accounting for 22% and 14% of total value of catches in the Atlantic and Pacific regions, respectively.

Table 2.7: Commercial landings by gear type, marine fisheries, Canada, 2010-2011
thousands of dollars
Atlantic Pacific
Gear Type1 2010 2011 2010 2011
Seine Nets 37,286 33,403 $41,687 $21,840
Trawls 346,844 398,648 $38,257 $39,492
Dredge (Boat) $126,913 141,132 41 $44
Gillnets $60,965 65,514 28,678 15,905
Longline $46,205 48,959 51,796 $42,954
Hooks and Other Lines $7,757 $9,330 $31,867 37,938
Pots and Traps $875,566 $1,103,695 $63,442 $78,386
Miscellaneous Gear $26,497 $28,577 $41,772 40,533
Total $1,528,033 $1,828,714 $297,540 $277,092

11 Based On International Standard Statistical Classification Of Fishing Gear (ISSCFG)
Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics (March, 2013)

2.1.5 Vessels

In 2011, there were 14,670 active vessels in Canada's marine commercial fisheries (Table 2.8). A fishing vessel is considered active if at least one instance of fish landings is recorded during the year.

In 2011, the majority (35%) of the total active fishing vessels in Canada were in Newfoundland and Labrador (5,163 vessels). Nova Scotia was second with 3,522 vessels, or 24% of the Canadian total. The majority (91%) of active vessels were inshore fishing vessels less than 45' in length. Midshore and offshore fishing vessels (more than 45' in length) represented 9% of all active fishing vessels in Canada. However, they recorded 46% of the total landed value in Canada in 2011. The average landed value per active fishing vessel was $141,558 in Canada in 2011, which was 18% higher than the average in 2010

Table 2.8: Number of active vessels by length, province and DFO region, 2010-2011
Province NS NB PEI Quebec NL Total
Atlantic
BC
/ Pacific Region
Total
Canada
DFO Region 1 Gulf Maritimes Gulf Maritimes Gulf
2010
Unknown Length 8 1 6 1 2 2 0 20 0 20
1' - 34'11" 154 1,017 231 $32 $37 $430 $4,258 6,159 650 6,809
35' - 44'11" 552 1,710 1,128 274 1,276 $519 $552 6,011 806 6,817
45' - 64'11" 4 123 81 $35 $3 $177 $448 871 240 1,111
65' - 99'11" 1 30 20 9 0 $15 $16 91 105 196
100' +  0 22 0 $3 $0 $0 $24 49 11 60
Total 719 2,903 1,466 $354 $1,318 $1,143 5,298 13,201 1,812 15,013
2011
Unknown Length 7 $3 8 1 3 1 0 23 0 23
1' - 34'11" 141 $978 228 29 $47 $410 $4,138 $5,971 639 6,610
35' - 44'11" 527 $1,703 $1,072 $277 1,284 513 541 5,917 799 6,716
45' - 64'11" 5 $105 $79 $32 $4 $161 $439 $825 239 1,064
65' - 99'11" 3 $28 $17 $5 0 16 21 90 105 195
100' +  0 $22 $2 $3 $0 $0 $24 $51 11 62
Total 683 2,839 1,406 347 1,338 1,101 5,163 12,877 1,793 14,670

1 The four DFO regions in Atlantic Canada are: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Gulf (Northeast Nova Scotia, Eastern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island), and Maritimes (Southern New Brunswick, Southwest Nova Scotia, Eastern Nova Scotia).
Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics
Note: The sum of active vessels by province/region may not add up to the Atlantic or Canada total due to vessels landing in more than one province.

2.2 Commercial Freshwater Fisheries

In Canada, freshwater or inland commercial fishing take place primarily in Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior in Ontario, in lakes Winnipeg, Cedar, Manitoba and Winnipegosis in the province of Manitoba, and in Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

In 2011, total freshwater harvest was 25,744t, or about for 3% of the total commercial catch in terms of value and volume (Table 2.9). The total production of freshwater species was valued at $58.2 million in 2011, a decrease of $1.9 million from 2010.

The top species fished commercially in Canada are yellow pickerel, whitefish and perch. Landings of these three species represented close to 66% of the total quantity of freshwater species caught in Canada in 2011.

Table 2.9: Commercial freshwater fish landings by species, Canada, 2008-2011
Quantity Value
2008 2009 2010 2011 2008 2009 2010 2011
Species tonnes, live weight thousands of dollars
Yellow Pickerel 8,288 7,042 7,725 7,418 $28,643 $23,351 $24,685 $24,356
Perch 3,698 3,995 4,270 4,241 $9,015 $11,962 $16,630 $17,026
Whitefish 6,447 6,768 6,674 5,257 $10,497 $11,197 $10,331 $8,210
White bass 1,869 1,359 1,582 799 $2,322 $2,159 $2,230 $1,436
Smelt 3,604 3,537 1,426 2,591 $1,827 $1,794 $722 $1,314
Pike 1,951 1,964 1,890 1,646 $1,605 $1,608 $1,416 $1,162
Sauger 215 651 170 260 $739 $2,117 $480 $653
Eel 77 54 61 56 $676 $559 $530 $575
Alewife 469 165 21 672 $441 $131 $29 $523
Sucker (Mullet) 1,893 2,001 1,615 1,053 $708 $739 $524 $434
Other 1,868 2,039 1,831 1,751 $2,272 $2,610 $2,518 $2,517
All Species 30,379 29,575 27,265 25,744 $58,747 $58,227 $60,096 $58,206

Source: DFO, Economic Analysis and Statistics

In 2011, freshwater commercial fishing activities were predominantly in Ontario and Manitoba. Fish landings in these two provinces were valued at $33.8 million and $18.9 million respectively and collectively represented 91% of the total landings of freshwater commercial fisheries in Canada in 2011.

2.3 Aquaculture

Overall aquaculture production dropped by 9% from $926.0 million in 2010 to $845.6 million in 2011 (Table 2.10). Most of the decrease can be attributed to a drop in salmon production. However, the overall decline was partly offset by production gains in farmed trout and mussels.

Table 2.10: Aquaculture production by major species, Canada, 2008-2011
2008 2009 2010 2011 2008 2009 2010 2011
tonnes thousands of dollars
Finfish
Salmon 104,075 100,212 101,544 102,064 624,582 598,925 693,648 606,775
Trout 7,932 7,198 6,844 6,511 41,358 32,899 33,251 35,300
Steelhead 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other finfish 868 1,429 1,291 728 $8,874 $11,687 $13,795 $6,887
Total finfish 112,890 108,843 122,577 123,567 $676,438 $645,338 $843,195 $763,033
Molluscs and crustaceans
Clams 1,634 1,898 1,923 1,641 $8,635 $9,464 $8,349 $8,596
Oysters 8,984 8,813 11,113 10,880 $13,476 $16,794 $18,876 $18,694
Mussels 19,835 21,461 25,675 25,509 $27,227 $29,472 $37,748 $38,853
Scallops 285 388 697 301 $1,327 $1,672 $2,919 $1,711
Other Shellfish 191 704 160 315 $6,497 $5,533 $6,012 $6,254
Total shellfish 30,928 33,264 39,569 38,646 $57,162 $62,935 $73,905 $74,108
Total aquaculture 155,362 155,732 162,146 162,213 $796,719 $800,373 $917,100 $837,141
Re-stocking 868 805 874 823 $9,004 $8,623 $8,852 $8,456
Total1 156,230 156,537 163,020 163,036 $805,724 $808,995 $925,952 $845,598

1 Provinces with data not available are not included in the Canada totals
Source: Statistics Canada, 2012, Aquaculture Statistics 2011, Catalogue no. 23-222-X.

The value of farmed salmon decreased by 13% in 2011, despite slightly higher production volumes. In 2011, farmed salmon accounted for 72% of all aquaculture production in Canada, down 3 percentage points from 2010. Meanwhile, farmed mussels increased at an annual rate of growth of 3% in terms of value. Oysters decreased by -1%, over the same period.

British Columbia continues to be the largest aquaculture producer in Canada, accounting for $465.0 million or over one-half of Canada's total output from aquaculture activities (Table 2.11). In 2011, New Brunswick was the second largest producer of farmed seafood, harvesting 22,274t of seafood valued at $143.3 million from aquaculture activities. Newfoundland and Labrador ranked third in terms of production value. The production estimate for Newfoundland and Labrador was primarily based on finfish, although further details are unavailable due to the limited number of producers in that province. Nova Scotia ranked fourth in 2011, in terms of value, producing 8,017t of farmed seafood, valued at $42.3 million. It is estimated that finfish accounted for 77% of total production catch in terms of value.

Table 2.11: Aquaculture production by province and species, 2011
Production = tonnes, live weight
Value = thousands of dollars
Province Salmon Mussels Trout All Species
British Columbia Production 74,880 300 630 85,270
Value 435,300 1,500 5,700 465,000
New Brunswick Production 21,560 25 80 22,274
Value 140,241 28 400 $143,314
Newfoundland and Labrador Production  ..   3,000  ..   $17,264
Value .. 8,221 .. $120,050
Nova Scotia Production 5,624 1,374 124 $8,017
Value 31,324 1,584 1,796 $43,287
Prince Edward Island Production  ..   20,494  ..   $23,018
Value .. $27,108 .. $35,305
Ontario Production -    -    3,738 $3,738
Value -    -    17,700 $17,700
Quebec Production -    316 349 $1,637
Value -    411 1,875 $11,461
Canada1 Production 102,064 25,509 6,511 $163,036
Value $606,775 $38,853 $35,300 845,598

1 Provinces with supressed data are included in the Canada total
Source: Statistics Canada, 2012, Aquaculture Statistics 2011, Catalogue no. 23-222-X