Nova Scotia MP questions Chinese ‘control’ over lobster industry

Nova Scotia MP questions Chinese ‘control’ over lobster industry

A Nova Scotia member of Parliament is elevating issues about rising Chinese language “affect and management” on the province’s lobster trade provide chain, particularly at Halifax Stanfield Worldwide Airport.

The Halifax Worldwide Airport Authority denied the declare. And a significant Chinese language seafood exporter — whose affect is being questioned — referred to as it “sort of racist.”

“My concern general is the rising affect of China and the management of our lobster trade itself and that’s all through the availability chain,” stated Rick Perkins, the Conservative MP for South Shore-St. Margarets, the place lobster fishing is a cornerstone of the economic system.

“They’re doing it via the again door what they couldn’t do via the entrance door, which was mainly [to] personal the precise fishing licences. They’ll’t do this, in order that they’re attempting to manage the shopping for and the export on the airport,” stated Perkins.

Perkins raised the problem lately at a parliamentary committee wanting into overseas possession and company focus of economic fishing in Canada.

“What about China? I do know, for instance, on the South Shore, I’m seeing China purchase our consumers. What’s the impression of that? I additionally perceive they management the freight forwarder on the Halifax airport,” Perkins requested Colin Sproul, an inshore fishermen’s consultant showing earlier than the committee.

Federal Conservative Fisheries critic Rick Perkins is the MP for South Shore-St. Margarets in Nova Scotia. (CBC)

“I’m actually joyful to listen to you increase that concern. I believe that’s some of the vital issues that the federal government can do is guarantee nationwide Canadian management of our logistics chain inside the nation,” Sproul responded.

Perkins stated “non-China owned lobster consumers” in southwest Nova Scotia are pressured to truck lobster to airports in Moncton and New York “due to overseas management of the stay seafood terminal at Halifax.”

Perkins is referring to First Catch, the Chinese language export firm that spent $9 million by itself lobster dealing with amenities at Halifax airport’s new Air Cargo Logistics Park, the place it’s an anchor tenant with a 25-year lease.

Below federal regulation, solely Canadian impartial owner-operator fishermen are allowed to reap lobster. However there aren’t any overseas possession restrictions on the sale of present onshore crops, though there’s a moratorium issuing new shellfish purchaser and processing licences.

Lister Li, president of First Catch, informed CBC Information she understands “individuals will probably be nervous,” however says fears of Chinese language management are unfair, saying no-one questions U.S. possession of lobster companies.

“I believe as a result of, lately, there’s a number of Chinese language individuals shopping for crops after which attempting to get into this trade,” she stated. “However by Chinese language, I believe these individuals are simply Asian. Then possibly Canadian. Perhaps they’ve a Canadian passport. Perhaps they grew up right here. It’s sort of racist.”

‘We don’t management all of the lobster dealing with in Halifax’

First Catch additionally charters flights to China and has an curiosity in a cargo-handling firm, Summit Floor Companies.

“It’s not a truth. We don’t management all of the lobster dealing with in Halifax. We solely do what we’re delivery out,” stated Li.

Li lives in Canada and says shares within the enterprise are being transferred to her, making First Catch a “Canadian firm.”

A woman wearing a safety vest stands in front of a book case.
Lister Li is president of First Catch. (CBC)

Each Li and the Halifax Worldwide Airport Authority say stay lobster shippers produce other choices for freight forwarding, planes and floor dealing with in Halifax.

Dwell lobster is being trucked to Moncton — which is on tempo for a file yr of lobster cargo exports in 2023 — largely as a result of charges are cheaper for flights connecting to China, says Li.

First Catch has subleased the previous Purolator constructing on the airport to 2025 and it’s not obtainable to be used by different shippers and freight forwarders.

Lengthy-term technique

That’s not to close them out, says First Catch basic supervisor Yuchen Ji, however a part of a long-term technique.

“The thought is we’ve this new constructing for our lobster export [in the logistics park], however that constructing in future will probably be used … for imports from China, from Korea, for different international locations, to Halifax, which we’re planning to make Halifax airport as a hub for that objective,” stated Ji, a Dalhousie College graduate.

Within the meantime, First Catch has rented out area there to others.

A man with dark hair and glasses wears a grey jacket with a black shirt. He is standing in a warehouse.
Yuchen Ji is a Dalhousie College graduate and the overall supervisor of First Catch. (CBC)

Perkins alleges the corporate favours Chinese language-connected consumers for motion out of Halifax. It’s one other cost First Catch denies.

“This assertion just isn’t true. We’re not able to manage the air freight as a result of we’re not a freight forwarder. We’re only a seafood exporter,” stated Ji.

“Once we do run our personal constitution and when our constitution just isn’t full, we do have a freight forwarder we go to, then they’ll share this area to the markets, mainly to anybody in Nova Scotia.”

Excessive demand for lobster in China

The Chinese language urge for food for lobster has exploded over the previous decade, making it the second largest export vacation spot after the USA. 

It’s the results of a rising Chinese language center class, provincial commerce missions and an trade pivot to produce the brand new market, which was additional boosted by a Trump-era commerce conflict with China that resulted in big tariffs on U.S. seafood.

Canadian shipments of stay lobster to China, largely from Nova Scotia, have been price over $450 million in 2022.

Boxes of lobster in a warehouse.
Lobster cargo at First Catch in Halifax. (CBC)

Practically 16,000 tonnes of lobster — valued at $293 million — moved via Halifax Stanfield in 2022, based on the airport. First Catch represented about 14 per cent of the exports.

Chinese language demand for “dragon prawn,” as it’s typically referred to as, has been a boon for lobster fishermen in Atlantic Canada, maintaining costs up at the same time as landings rose.

Chinese language-owned or linked firms have moved to get nearer to the useful resource, shopping for present lobster crops in Nova Scotia, beginning in 2014 when Chinese language large Zoneco bought a lobster pound in Jap Passage close to Halifax.

Different choices for shipments

Veteran lobster purchaser Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster says First Catch doesn’t management lobster shipments to China, since there are various different choices obtainable on the Halifax airport.

“My reply isn’t any. A foreign-owned entity which has invested a considerable funding right here in Nova Scotia is part of the general puzzle. There’s no denying that First Catch is a dominant participant, however to recommend they management issues I believe is inappropriate.”

Lamont says his firm submits costs it’s keen to pay to First Catch for lobster it sends to China. Each events can settle for, negotiate or reject these.

“Our firm, we name ourselves journey brokers for lobster. We determine to whom we promote, at what value we promote. And what logistic choices we offer to get the products to the worldwide market,” he informed CBC Information.


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