June 1, 2010
NEGUAC (NB) - The provincial government will provide $11 million in loan support to help rationalize the East Coast lobster fleet. Premier Shawn Graham made the announcement today.
"This is an exciting day for the lobster industry," said Graham. "We have been working towards rationalizing this fleet for several years, and I am pleased to see such fantastic results from our collaboration. Together we are supporting an industry-driven innovative solution to this long standing concern."
Following the federal government's announcement of $50 million for Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures, the Maritime Fishermen's Union requested the province assist by providing loans under the Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Act. The loans will be interest-free for the first five years and repaid over 10 years.
"Rationalization is a key priority under the Fisheries Renewal Framework and today's announcement will go a long way towards ensuring a sustainable, economically viable and self-sufficient fishery," said Graham.
The loan program will help about 13 per cent of the lobster fishermen on the province's east coast to sell their fishing licences.
"We are pleased to have been able to successfully work with government on this important initiative," said André Martin, president of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. "Once in place, the rationalization plan will make it possible for our industry members to collectively buy back boats and licenses to reduce the number of enterprises vying for limited resources. At the same time, it will allow those who wish to retire to do so with dignity."
The loan program initiative developed from ongoing consultations with industry through such mechanisms as two regional forums and the Minister's Round table on Fisheries.
The program is in keeping with a commitment made in the 2008-09 throne speech regarding mechanisms to improve access to financial assistance for fisheries.
MEDIA CONTACT: Gisèle Regimbal, communications, Department of Fisheries, 506-457-3549.