In world fisheries, Canada consistently ranks as one of the top five fish exporters by value. Fishery exports including aquaculture came to $3.9 billion in 2010.

Fish and seafood exports account for more export value than iron ore and almost as much as wheat. They represent Canada’s second largest single food export commodity.

Overall output from fish and seafood reported for 2009 came to $6.4 billion, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In detail:

  • Commercial sea and freshwater fisheries landings: $1.7 billion
  • Aquaculture production: $801 million
  • Seafood product preparation and packaging revenues: $3.9 billion

Fishery-related employment came to 45,000 for fish harvesters and crews; 3,700 in aquaculture operations; and 27,000 for seafood product preparation and packaging.

In many Atlantic areas, in parts of British Columbia, and in the northern prairies, whole regions depend on the fishery. Find out more about fishing communities.

An example of this is in Nova Scotia where commercial fishing in 2006 employed more than 9,000 people at one time or another during the year. Fish processing employed another 6,000 and thousands more jobs came from “spin-off” businesses.

Overall in Atlantic Canada the primary and secondary fisheries sector is the largest private sector employer.