Fishing Industry in Canada: By the Numbers

Canada is a vast country with a diverse array of industries from coast-to-coast-to-coast. As a country we are fortunate to be surrounded by the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and have a thriving fishing industry in Canada because of the opportunity they provide.

We have a ton of lakes everywhere you look in Canada too! With nearly 32,000 of them across the country, there's plenty of opportunity for inland fishing as well.

Often enough, the fishing and seafood industry is one sector of Canada’s economy that doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves. It is a major economic driver for both coastal rural communities and major urban centres alike.

We want everyone to know how important the fishing industry in Canada is to tens of thousands of people across the country. The best way to do that is to explain it to you, by the numbers! Also see:

Canada’s Fish and Seafood Exports

Lobster is Canada's top global seafood and fish export in 2018 - worth $2.2 billion

About 72,000 people are employed by the fishing industry in Canada in primary harvesting, aquaculture or processing.

Exports are a major part of the fish and seafood industry. A majority go to our top trading partner but also reach China, Japan and Europe.

In 2018, Canada exported a whopping $6.9 billion in fish and seafood products to nearly 140 countries worldwide:

  • Lobster - $2.2 billion
  • Atlantic Salmon - $971 million
  • Snow / Queen Crab - $886 million
  • Prawn / Shrimp - $469 million
  • Crab (other) - $420 million
  • Salmon (other) - $220 million
  • Scallop - $163 million
  • Herring - $136 million
  • Clan - $120 million
  • Hake - $116 million

Other top fish and seafood exports from Canada include swordfish, arctic char, haddock, pacific halibut and sablefish.

Fishing-Related Employment Across Canada

Employment in harvesting processing and aquaculture are found across the country except for Alberta and the Yukon.

It’s surprising to see how many jobs the fishing industry in Canada supports in provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Total employment figures (persons) in 2017:

  • Nova Scotia – 17,669
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 17,904
  • New Brunswick – 13,118
  • British Columbia – 9,805
  • Quebec – 6,655
  • Prince Edward Island – 6,547
  • Ontario – 2,070
  • Manitoba – 1,382
  • Saskatchewan – 1,202
  • Northwest Territories – 136
  • Nunavut - 73

Vessels and Establishments Across Canada

Canada exported $6.9 billion of fish and seafood exports in 2018

It’s also surprising to see just how many fishing vessels and aquaculture establishments there are across the country. But what's not surprising is that most are found on the Atlantic coast.

Number of registered fishing vessels (2017)

  • Pacific – 2,372
  • Inland – 114
  • Atlantic – 15,150
  • Canada – 17,636

Number of aquaculture establishments (2017)

  • Pacific – 249
  • Inland – 160
  • Atlantic – 539
  • Canada – 948

Aquaculture Production: Provincial Leaders

British Columbia was the main producing province for:

  • Salmon
  • Steelhead
  • Other finfish
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Scallops

Ontario produced the most trout while Prince Edward Island did so for Mussels and Nova Scotia for other shellfish.

Also, not surprisingly a majority of lobster was produced on the Atlantic coast.

Note the picture above Shediac in New Brunswick... it's often said that this is the lobster capital of the country!

Fishing Industry in Canada: Sustainability

An industry that draws on our oceans must be sustainable to not only protect the environment, but also allow continued prosperity for future generations of Canadians to come.

Various levels of governments are actively involved in ensuring that farming and harvesting fish and seafood stocks are done in a responsible way.

Nationally, we spend about $130 million each year on monitoring, control and enforcement across the country, and are proud to have one of the most advanced sustainable fishery and seafood programs in the world.

This is just one example of Canada’s leadership when it comes to sustainability and environmental protection, not just in the fishing sector, but across all industries from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

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