Manitoba's commercial fishermen heard some good news regarding the end of Freshwater's monopoly over the province recently.
The Lake Manitoba Commercial Fishermen Association annual meeting was this week. Alan Gaudry, Lake Manitoba Commercial Fishermen's South Basin Chair, says fish buyers proposing to come to Manitoba presented to fishers.
"It was exciting, very informative, and the presenters gave information on what their plans are. There were three additional presenters, and Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC) so a total of four presenters and the other three are very committed. They've got financing in place and they're prepared to move forward to build fish plants starting this summer. The delay (of the end of Freshwater's monopoly) until December is not proving to be an issue (for buyers), they still want to build fish plants and buy fish."
Two organizations have shown interest in building plants in Manitoba, with one hopefully being complete this year. Community First Development proposed a plant for St. Laurent that should be complete in about three-and-a-half years. Another company from Asia called Wild North Fishery from China is also proposing to build another plant in St. Laurent. It won't be as large as CFD's plant. It will be a small plant but should be up and running by November or December this year.
"We've got some exciting and challenging times ahead," says Gaudry. "We're excited about the opportunities coming forward with more buyers in the market. Hopefully, that leads to better prices for fishers with composition. The buyers all made claims that competition would not deter them from their plan, they welcome it and plan to go forward with their plants. We welcome that because competition is good, so things look promising."
"Freshwater sat through the presentations from the competition and made their argument, and they're basically saying they are here to buy fish and will continue to do business with producers that want to stay with Freshwater," adds Gaudry. "They made it well known that part of their business plan is going to be through contracts, and fishers weren't very happy to hear that because they want it wide open, but that's how Freshwater wants it. The other companies have said they don't want contracts they want to buy from everyone."
As far as fish prices, Gaudry says more details will follow in the fall as they get closer to the December 1st target date of the monopoly ending in Manitoba. He adds People were really enjoying the moment after the meeting.