Pallister Government Decision to Pull Plug on Fish Marketing Corp. Raises Serious Questions About Future of Commercial Fishing

The Manitoba government’s decision to pull out of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corp. raises major questions for the future of fishers in this province, NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer said today.

“We are concerned that this could have the same effect on fishers in Manitoba that the Harper government’s decision to end the Canadian Wheat Board single desk model had on grain farmers,” said Altemeyer, who is the Opposition critic for Environment and Green Jobs. “The FFMC has provided a stable marketing method and stable incomes for many years -- as did the CWB. We all know what happened when the CWB lost its authority to represent all grain growers.”

Altemeyer cautioned that it is possible the marketing corporation may not be able to continue to exist without the participation of Manitoba. While the corporation is technically a national organization, the bulk of the product comes from Manitoba.

“Some fishers may benefit from going alone, but many could find themselves struggling to get their fish to market without the corporation,” Altemeyer said. “Small or isolated fishing communities just don’t have the resources needed to reach out to foreign markets.”

The corporation purchases, processes and markets the catch of some 1,700 commercial fishers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. Its head office is in Winnipeg and it employs about 150 people.

“What guarantee is the Pallister government offering to fishers who could lose their livelihoods?” Altemeyer asked. “And can they assure us that Winnipeg won’t lose a head office and the jobs it supports.”

Altemeyer also asked what impact this move would have on sustainability of the fishery in Manitoba and the potential eco-certification of Lake Winnipeg.
“If every fisher is competing to sell as much as possible, will that damage the sustainability of the fish stocks in this province?”