Fisheries in Atlantic Canada anxious as they await federal aid package

fish

Groups representing fishermen in Atlantic Canada are looking for direct federal assistance that will help them ride out uncertain markets this year.

Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan has said the announcement of an aid package is "days away," and it would follow a $62.5-million package that was announced last month to help fish and seafood processors protect workers from COVID-19.

Ian MacPherson, executive director of the 1,270-member P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, says fishermen are looking for programs that will help stabilize operations this year and enable the industry to seek a more solid footing in 2021.

MacPherson says fishermen in the lucrative lobster industry in particular are anxious, with their delayed spring season about to start on May 15.

Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union, says most of the organization's members are not eligible for programs that have been announced in the last month, such as one that covers the wages of workers whose employers have reported significant reductions in revenue because of the pandemic.

Mallet, whose group represents more than 1,300 independent inshore owner-operator fishermen based in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, wants those programs adjusted to make all of his membership eligible.