Study points to labour force as key to revitalizing fishing industry

November 1, 2016

Shrimp net setting

On November 24, 2014, the CCPFH announced the beginning of a major study on the skill needs and labour supply challenges in coastal communities where seasonal fisheries are essential to the economy.

The project would have three phases:

  1. planning, consultations with stakeholders and the review of associated literature
  2. collection of information through telephone surveys, gathering of statistics, regional case studies and other means
  3. analysis of the combined information and the development of policy and program recommendations

Where are we now?

The project is now wrapping up its second phase and is moving into the third.

Of the three pillars that shape the industry: the resource supply, the labour force and the demand for seafood, the labour force generates the most serious risk to the stability and growth of the Canadian fishing industry as indicated by the findings in phase 1 and phase 2 of the study.

Some of the contributing factors to this are:

  • the aging workforce and their pending retirement
  • the declining number of young people entering the industry due to longer schooling and being lured to higher paying, year-round jobs in cities.
  • the rising costs of entrepreneurship
  • for some regions more than others, the short work seasons

Where does all this lead us?

The gathering of data and information is showing us that the workforce that is needed to sustain the industry a decade from now is not currently there nor is it available in most fishing regions. The last 30 years of labour force and fleet downsizing needs to be reversed.

There are many opportunities to strengthen the industry however this study will concentrate on ways to manage the seasonal nature of many jobs in the fishing industry.

The Labour Market Information (LMI) Project Advisory Committee will meet again in late November to provide input on the phase 2 report analysis of the findings. They will evaluate options for improved training and certification programs, better distribution of information about off-season employment opportunities, recognition of skills that make fish harvesters employable in other sectors and perhaps new flexibility in the EI system to make it easier for fish harvesters to access rewarding employment throughout the year when they choose to do so.

Phase 3 will conclude with consultations with industry stakeholders and presentations to federal and provincial government agencies as well as to training institutions in order to get feedback on their willingness to support new approaches. The project’s final report will be submitted to the LMI Project Advisory Committee and the government funder in March of 2017. The final report will include recommended policy changes and pilot projects to test out some of the most promising options.

Want more information on the project?

To view more information on the Labour Market Information project, click here