Initiatives announced in Thursday’s provincial budget are aimed at positioning the fishing industry to take advantage of opportunities to be created by the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, Finance Minister Charlene Johnson said.
The agreement is expected to virtually eliminate barriers to the export of Newfoundland and Labrador seafood into the largest seafood market in the world.
“We are investing more than $9.7 million for key initiatives that support research and development projects, advance marketing initiatives and build capacity in the industry,” Johnson said. “Another trade agreement was just announced with South Korea, so these are exciting times for the province’s fishing industry.”
The funding will be broken down into the following:
• $4 million for the Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program for the next two years to further support research and development into enhanced harvesting, processing, and marketing techniques;
• $2 million to renew funding for the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation over the next two years to ensure industry stakeholders can avail of the centre’s expertise and resources when pursuing innovations that build competitive advantage;
• $2.5 million to continue the Fish Plant Worker Support Program for three more years;
• $400,000 over the next two years to support enhanced marketing initiatives; and,
• 800,000 over two years to build capacity for planning and development activities.
Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings said significant work will take place in 2014 with respect to making decisions about how the recently announced $400 million Federal-Provincial Fisheries Fund will be allocated.
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The funding will be used to hire dedicated staff to work with industry and the federal government to prepare for new international trade opportunities.
“Rural communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador play a key role in the success of many of the province’s renewable, traditional industries,” Hutchings said.
“The provincial government has made significant gains for the fishery through free trade agreements, industry collaboration, and strategic investment.”
In addition, a total of $6 million has been allocated to the Aquaculture Capital Equity Investment Program in Budget 2014 to support the further development of new aquaculture operations.
Budget documents note that between 2006 and 2013 the provincial government invested approximately $25 million to support aquaculture development, which leveraged approximately $400 million from the private sector.
The industry supports about 1,000 jobs and has revitalized the economy on parts of the south coast.