Commercial Fishing in Alberta

This summer news has come out of Alberta about its commercial fishing industry.

Alberta’s provincial government has opted to close the commercial fishing industry. Effective immediately, all fish resources in Alberta will now be managed entirely for Aboriginal sustenance commitments and the tourism and sport fishing industries.

Prior to this, commercial fishing in Alberta represented 3-4% of Freshwater’s total volume. Although this volume is a small percentage, a reduction of any volume to the processing plant has an impact on the overall efficiencies and, ultimately, bottom-line performance.

As part of the total volume, Alberta represented 50% of the lake whitefish roe supply. The loss of supply will impact the lake whitefish caviar business, forcing Freshwater to reduce the market for this high-demand product, at least temporarily.

Over the past several years, Freshwater has been working with the Northwest Territories government and fishers to rebuild and strengthen the fishery on Great Slave Lake. A stronger fishery in the Northwest Territories will help offset the impact of the loss of Alberta’s volume, as their number one catch is lake whitefish.

In addition, there are a number of Alberta fishers who are planning to continue their commercial fishing businesses by moving to Great Slave Lake either permanently or for the summer fishing season. This will greatly help the rebuilding of the fishery on Great Slave Lake and will replace the volume previously received from Alberta.

The wild-caught nature of Freshwater’s fishery makes for a high level of unpredictability in the business, although this latest development comes from government rather than natural forces. Time will tell what the long-term effects will be. For now, Freshwater will continue to work with Northwest Territories government and fishers from Alberta and NWT to rebuild and strengthen the fishery on Great Slave Lake.