Quebec gives capital gains exemption to fish harvesters

December 18, 2002

Fish harvesters have made a major breakthrough on the fiscal front that could mean more money in the pocket of retiring harvesters and a break on the costs of fishing licenses for new entrants thanks to the government of Quebec.

Quebec Fisheries Minister, Maxime Arseneau, said a $500,000 exemption for capital gains for fish harvesters would be included in the next provincial budget (2003-2004). Arseneau made the announcement on December 10 at the annual meeting of the Quebec Fisheries and Aquaculture Network (Réseau pêche et aquaculture Québec). The exemption will provide fish harvesters with similar tax treatment to farmers who’ve had a capital gains exemption since 1985.

Quebec becomes the first province to offer fish harvesters what the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters has been asking of all provinces and the Federal government since 1998. The province was responding to repeated requests from Quebec fish harvesters and particularly those of the Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Québec. The Alliance and the Fédération des pêcheurs semi-hauturiers du Québec, both of whom are Council members in Quebec applauded the new measure.

According to fishing industry sources, the province of Nova Scotia is also considering such a move. The Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Fisheries supports a program that would allow capital gains exemptions for fish harvesters similar to other resource users and has approached the Federal government and other provinces to introduce such a measure.

At the Federal level Finance Minister John Manley said his department would take a serious look at the question when it was raised by the Maritime Fishermen’s Union at a pre-budget consultation held in Moncton in late November.

The Council will be pressing the federal Finance minister and Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault to quickly follow Quebec’s lead because it believes the lack of capital gains tax exemption for fish harvesters represents a considerable burden to those reaching retirement age in the fishery by significantly reducing the income they would receive from the sale of their enterprise. Furthermore the current level of capital gains taxation acts as an obstacle to the inter-generational transfer of fishing enterprises by driving up the costs of acquisition.

You can see the media release in its original format here.