Southeast Resource Development Council Corp.







MEMO SERDC Commercial Fisheries Income Support 


DATE:           May 29, 2020


TO:              SERDC Leadership and SERDC Community Commercial Fishers


FROM:          Doug Mercer, SERDC Executive Director


SUBJECT:       Income Support for Commercial Freshwater Fishers



Southeast Resource Development Council (SERDC) in conjunction with your community leadership have been monitoring federal government income support programs for commercial freshwater fishers. Just recently Prime Minister Trudeau announced 2 parallel income support programs that we believe you will be eligible for. Many commercial fishers will decline to fish commercially this open water season due to limited purchasing of fish harvest by FFMC (in particular the stop order of Pickerel purchasing). Therefore, you are likely to incur an income decline or possibly even lose 100% of your income in 2020 due to the Covid19 pandemic.

As a result, the federal government is implementing two (2) income support programs to assist you – one to subsidize lost income and the other to help cover business expenses that cannot be deferred. Final details on eligibility, application deadlines and exact calculation of subsidies have not yet been established. SERDC will continue to monitor and update you on eligibility criteria and the application process. Please let us know if you have any questions.

For now and until any further update from FFMC in terms of re-established purchasing of Pickerel SERDC recommends the following:

  1. If you typically harvest any amount of Pickerel it would be best if you did not fish this spring and either continue on your Employment Insurance program if possible or consider applying for the Federal Fish Harvester’s Benefit and Grant Program. Further details to be announced.
  2. If you catch exclusively Lake Whitefish then you may wish to consider fishing this spring and fall since FFMC will continue to purchase your harvest.

We hope this helps to provide you with some guidance.

We are also pleased to inform you that if you are carrying loans with CEDF you now have the option to defer your payments (via FFMC deduction) for the balance of the year without penalty. However, deferral of interest on your principal has not yet been approved by CEDF. They are working with the Province of Manitoba to assess whether a moratorium on loan interest will be feasible and expect to provide a direct communication to all fishers in June of this year regarding the entire program including possible deferral of loan interest.



Reference Information:

What income supplementation is the government offering commercial fishers?

The Government of Canada will:

  1. Launch the Fish Harvester Benefit, a program worth up to $267.6 million, to help provide income support for this year’s fishing seasons to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons crew who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Support will be provided to those that experience fishing income declines of greater than 25 per cent in the 2020 tax year, compared with a reference period to be identified. This measure covers 75 per cent of fishing income losses beyond a 25 per cent income decline threshold, up to a maximum individual entitlement equivalent to what is provided under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ($847 per week for up to 12 weeks).

E.g. If you earned $ 16,000 in 2019 from fishing then you would need to demonstrate lost earning of 25% or more (a loss of $ 4,000 or more) to qualify for a 75% coverage of your losses beyond the original 25%. So if you earned $ 0 in 2020 then your losses would be $ 16,000 and you would be eligible for 75% coverage on $ 12,000 which would be $ 9,000 or $ 750 per week for 12 weeks. The maximum entitlement cannot exceed $ 10,164 ($847 x 12 weeks).

  1. Launch the Fish Harvester Grant, a program worth up to $201.8 million, to provide grants to help fish harvesters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account or equivalent measures. This will give them more liquidity to address non-deferrable business costs. The program would provide non-repayable support of up to $10,000 to self-employed fish harvesters with a valid fishing licence. Size of the non-repayable support will vary depending on the level of fish harvesters’ historic revenue.

This grant appears to apply to helping licensed fishers obtain assistance in covering business expenses that cannot be deferred (equipment lease, rentals, utilities etc.) The amount of support will depend on previous historic earnings. The exact formula to calculate the coverage has yet to be disclosed.

  1. Propose measures or changes to Employment Insurance (EI) that would allow self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons to access EI benefits on the basis of insurable earnings from previous seasons (winter and summer claims).

This will allow you to claim Employment Insurance based on past years of earning rather than being ineligible based on lost 2020 income.

To access the media release issued by the Prime Minister’s office go to:

Further updates will be provided by SERDC as information comes available.

Southeast Resource Development Council Corp.
Head Office: Box 30 Scanterbury, Manitoba R0E 1W0
Winnipeg Office: 6th Floor - 360 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0T6