Fish harvesters in the Northcoast and Haida Gwaii can now apply for the second phase of benefit payments under the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant program, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans announced, on Aug. 5.
This Program helps eligible self-employed fish harvesters — who were not eligible for other financial relief programs — access critical support in dealing with the financial burdens of COVID-19.
More than 18, 000 fishers and families have accessed $130 million through the program in all provinces across Canada since its May 2020 inception. This includes self-employed commercial and freshwater fish harvesters, Indigenous harvesters with communal commercial fishing licences designated by their communities, and sharepersons crew who had less than their usual income in 2020.
“A strong economic recovery in the fishing sector depends on the hard work of our fish harvesters. With the opening of the second phase of benefits under the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program delivered through Service Canada, we are reaffirming our commitment to Canada’s fish harvesters and are ensuring that they can continue to receive critical support in an expedient manner to provide support in the face of the unique challenges they continue to face as a result of COVID-19,” Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said.
“Over the past year, COVID-19 has created unique challenges for Canadian fish harvesters who are the economic backbone of many Canadian coastal and rural communities,” the ministry said in a media statement. “The Government of Canada recognizes these challenges and the importance of a strong fish and seafood sector, so that harvesters can continue to provide food for Canadians and support their families and communities,” the ministry stated.
The application process is open to Indigenous and non-indigenous who qualified for an initial Fish Harvester Benefit payment. Applications close on Oct. 21. Fish harvesters who only received the grant in 2020 don’t need to submit a second application as they have already received the full amount and there is no second grant payment. Fish harvesters who did not apply initially in 2020 are also no longer eligible to apply, the ministry statement outlined.
The Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program is part of a series of targeted initiatives to support Canada’s fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors, through the COVID-19 pandemic, including: the Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund, Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund, and the Surplus Food Rescue Program.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous applicants can visit the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website for more information about the program, to see what they need to provide to confirm their eligibility and to apply for their second round of payments.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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