Fishing Industry in Canada: By the Numbers

fishing industry in Canada - facts and statistics

Canada is a vast country with a diverse array of economic sectors from coast to coast to coast. As Canadians, we are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – and have a thriving fishing industry in Canada because of the opportunities they provide.

Canada is also home to countless lakes everywhere you go. With nearly 32,000 of them across the country, there are plenty of chances for inland fishing as well.

The fishing and seafood industry in Canada is often one sector of the economy that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It is a major economic driver for both coastal rural communities and major urban centres alike, especially on the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines where seafood forms the bulk of economic activity for many towns and villages.

We want everyone to know how important the fishing industry in Canada is for 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

PEI's fish and seafood sector employed more than 8,000 Canadians in 2019

• As of 2020, approximately 68,100 people were employed by primary harvesting, processing and aquaculture in the fishing and seafood sector in Canada [2]

• Canada exported a whopping 613 thousand tonnes of seafood in 2021, an 8% increase year-over-year [1]

• In 2021, Canada exported a whopping $8.79 billion in fish and seafood products to nearly 140 countries worldwide [1]:

> Lobster - $3.26 billion

> Crab - $2.18 billion

> Salmon - $1.12 billion

> Other - $2.24 billion

• The value of Canadian seafood exports in 2021 were 36% higher year-over-year and 18% higher than the record year of 2019 [1]

• “Other” top fish and seafood exports from Canada include swordfish, arctic char, haddock, pacific halibut, scallop, herring, cod and oyster to name a few [1]

• Canada’s top seafood exporting provinces accounted of 70% of Canada’s fish and seafood exports in 2021, and include [1]:

> Nova Scotia - $2.48 billion

> New Brunswick - $2.21 billion

> Newfoundland & Labrador - $1.42 billion

• Canada’s fish and seafood exports by destination in 2021 include [1]:

> United States - $6.181 billion

> China - $1.115 billion

> EU – $453 million

> Japan – $249 million

> Hong Kong – $166 million

> United Kingdom - $111 million

> Ukraine - $57 million

> Vietnam - $43 million

> Taiwan - $41 million

> Other - $244 million

Fishing-Related Employment Across Canada

New Brunswick exported 2.2 billion dollars of seafood in 2021

Employment in harvesting processing and aquaculture is found across the country except for Alberta, Nunavut 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 2020:

  • Nova Scotia – 18,220
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 13,565
  • New Brunswick – 11,229
  • British Columbia – 9,722
  • Quebec – 5,038
  • Prince Edward Island – 4,940
  • Ontario – 1,844
  • Manitoba – 1,127
  • Saskatchewan – 986
  • Northwest Territories – 130

Vessels and Establishments Across Canada

Fishing industry in Canada - 2.4 billion in seafood exports from Nova Scotia in 2021

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 [3].

Number of registered fishing vessels (2020):

  • Pacific – 2,292
  • Inland – 150
  • Atlantic – 14,599
  • Canada – 17,041

Number of aquaculture facilities (2020):

  • Pacific – 213
  • Inland – 135
  • Atlantic – 533
  • Canada – 881

Fishing Industry in Canada: Sustainability

Fishing industry in Canada - 11,229 people employed in New Brunswick in 2021

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

Various levels of government 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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SOURCES:

1 - Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Canada’s Fish and Seafood Trade in 2021: Overview, Date Accessed: February 2023 (https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/ea-ae/economic-analysis/Canada-Fish-Seafood-trade-commerce-poisson-fruits-de-mer-eng.html)

2 – Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Fishing-related employment by the industry and province, 2017-2020, Date Accessed, February 2023 (https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/cfs-spc/tab/cfs-spc-tab2-eng.htm)

3 – Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Canada’s Fisheries Fast Facts 2021, Date Accessed: February 2023 (https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/cfs-spc/tab/cfs-spc-tab2-eng.htm)