Thank you, Mr. Chair.
On behalf of our members across the country, we want to take this opportunity to address the honourable members today. Again, we express our appreciation for this opportunity.
The Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters Federation is comprised of member organizations representing more than 14,000 independent owner-operator enterprises that harvest most of Canada's lobster, crab, wild salmon, shrimp and groundfish. With 43,000 crew members across the country, independent owner-operator fleets make up the single largest private employer in most Canadian coastal communities. Combined, our harvesters spend more than 20 million hours on the water per year. Together, we produce over five billion meals and $3 billion in landed value, generating over $7 billion throughout the value chain .
Canada's fisheries bring great value to our coastal communities. This extends far beyond their economic value. Fisheries connect us to our oceans and define the economic, social and cultural fabric of our country's coastal communities. On top of this, local fisheries feed millions of Canadians, protecting our collective food security.
COVID-19 has reminded us of the importance of protecting our domestic food supply. As the stewards of Canada's coastal communities, our members have profound concerns about the corporatization of the fishery, particularly by vertically integrated and multinational corporations and especially from foreign countries. We thank the committee for its attention to this critically important issue.
The simple message is the following. Our public resources are at risk of being swallowed up by foreign owners driven by one thing and one thing only, securing our wild fisheries production for their profit. Access to the fishery by these vertically integrated and foreign multinationals threatens our coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on the economic vibrancy of the fishery.
Take for example Royal Greenland, the fishing company wholly owned by the Government of Greenland and Denmark. Royal Greenland's operations in Canada illustrate the severity of the threats posed by corporatization of the fishery. Keith Sullivan will speak to this as well, I'm sure, but this is a really good case in point. Royal Greenland has nine production units in Canada. They do not support the owner-operator fishery. They explicitly promote full vertical integration, a business model not permitted in the Canadian inshore fishery.
Royal Greenland bought into the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery in 2016. By 2020, the year after their shareholders made record profits of over $52 million Canadian, they were the largest processor in the province. They recently purchased the second- and fourth-largest processing companies in the province. They also continue to secure considerable financial stakes in the province through several smaller companies.
Royal Greenland's arrival in Newfoundland drastically accelerated the pace of foreign corporate consolidation. They now have significantly more capital than any other local processing company. This aggressive business model of control and purchase completely stifles local competition.
Royal Greenland also operates a plant in Quebec. Their plant in Matane produces 45 tonnes per day of prawns and snow crab, only 5% of which stays in Canada. The remainder goes to Europe. In 2019 and 2021, Royal Greenland's Matane plant offered extremely high landing prices to snow crab fishermen to cut supply to local Quebec- and New Brunswick-owned plants.
Royal Greenland is not only swallowing up local processors and producers; their shareholders are also reaping all the benefits from our fisheries, leaving only a small fraction of their food supply and economic value for Canadians.
The corporatization of the fishery has several far-reaching, long-term consequences. It puts at risk our collective food security and increases prices to the end Canadian consumer. It takes corporate profits out of local communities and puts them in the hands of corporate shareholders. It jeopardizes the future of independent, locally owned factories, which can prevent independent fish harvesters from negotiating a fair landing price. Finally, it undermines the owner-operator principle, which is the backbone of Canada's coastal communities.
Our coastal communities have the potential to be resilient, sustainable and prosperous drivers of coastal economic and cultural wealth for generations to come. We must do everything we can to protect this public resource which, critically, also ensures that we are never cut off from our own domestic food supply. Fisheries access must remain in the hands of our harvesters and our coastal communities. Our fishing licences must only [Technical difficulty—Editor] be granted.
The federation supports a competitive market environment, but we must ensure that control of these precious public resources remains in Canadian hands for generations to come. We need to ensure fair and equitable opportunities for our future generations of fish harvesters, the new entrants in the industry.
As such, we support the collaborative development of clear regulations to limit foreign ownership and corporate control of our fisheries. This could include reducing the threshold for foreign acquisitions under the Investment Canada Act and the implementation of regulations requiring transparency of corporate agreements signed with respect to fishing licences.
We will forward a more expanded written response with some case studies for your review as we have such a short time and we want to be able to use it for questions, Mr. Chair. I'll close by saying again that we're appreciative of the opportunity and we're looking forward to answering any questions you may have.