Newfoundland Makes Bid For $.75-Billion Investment In Fishery

Meeting the opportunities opened up by the 200-mile fishing limit will require a three-quarters of a billion-dollar investment in the Newfoundland fishery over the next 10 years.

This was the bottom-line assessment made by the Newfoundland Department of Industrial Development, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, which noted that the provincial fishery, which is expected to increase its total fish landings to 568,000 metric tons with a landed catch value of $130 million by 1982, would need substantial private investments to fully implement the major modernization program it has launched. The program is geared toward increasing both the volume of annual catch and the number of secondary processing plants, such as canning, breading, smoking and vacuum-packaging operations in the province.

The provincial agency also said that the fishery has already attracted $70 million worth of new investment proposals from the private sector in Newfoundland, but added that many more investment dollars would be needed to reach the province's target goal of increasing on an annual basis, utilization of plant processing capacity from its present level of 40 percent to 75 percent within the next five years.

With expansion of the existing offshore fleet and construction of bulk cold-storage facilities and marine service centers combining to provide additional sources of fish, all seasonally operated groundfish plants with year-round potential will be in production on a year-round basis by 1982.

One major program proposal under consideration is the establishment of a strategically located landing and distribution center.

The center would serve to remedy the under-utilization of capacity in many seasonal fish processing plants which, at present, are dependent on inshore fishing fleets for their raw material. The central landing and distribution center would thus enable the supply of raw material to seasonal processors who have the capability to operate on a year-round basis.

The offshore trawler fleet is expected to increase from 80 vessels at present to over 100 by 1982.

The longliner fleet will increase from approximately 700 in 1977 to 850 vessels in the next five years.

Last year, the Provincial Government announced a five-year program under which 100 multipurpose longliner vessels would be constructed at a cost of $35 million. Twenty of these longliners are under construction, and another 20 will be started later this year.

Under a special Department of Regional Economic Expansion (DREE) program, a total of 15 marine service centers have been constructed at a cost of $13 million during the past three years.

There is currently a second proposal before DREE calling for the improvement and expansion of the existing centers and the construction of two new centers at an estimated cost of $6 million.

In reference to the DREE financing programs, the Newfoundland Department of Industrial Development emphasized that it believed the government should play a "prime pumping" role in the fisheries to stimulate the industry.

There should not be a massive infusion of public funding in the fishery but rather government should help provide the right climate for the private sector to invest in the industry, according to a department spokesman.

An example of this principle at work is the provision of interestfree loans to small businesses who want to become involved in secondary processing.

Further information on seafood processing opportunities in Newfoundland can be obtained by writing DCI-Newfoundland Fishery, Suite 2100, 733 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017.

Other stories from October 15, 1978 issue


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