The Future of the Atlantic Fisheries: Interim Report


70 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-920380-65-4




Reviewed by G.P. Wood

G.P. Wood was a lecturer at the Department of Political Science, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.


With a great deal of public attention today focussed on problems within Canada’s east coast fishery, the report by Weeks and Sommerville cannot but add to informed public debate. Focussing principally on the inshore and offshore fisheries of the four Atlantic provinces, the report presents a brief overview of key issues within the industry and recommends future directions in public policy.

To put the study into perspective, the authors initially present their broad assumptions about the likely environment of the Atlantic fishery in the 1980s. They predict only modest economic growth in Western nations, soft and highly competitive markets for fish, and changing patterns of Canadian fish sales in terms of quantity, destination and types of fish products. Within this framework certain key issues are selected for study: federal-provincial jurisdictional problems; the interdependence of social and economic aspects of the industry; the role of the fisherman in the economy in terms of employment and income; the structure of the fishery itself with respect to licensing, harvesting, and resource management; public financial support for the industry; and the impact of energy costs and oil and gas development on the industry. From this background material, complemented by a number of statistical tables, recommendations for government policy — too numerous and varied to summarize here — are made within each of the key issue areas.

The report presents an excellent overview of the east coast fishery issue in the 1980s and makes many worthwhile proposals for consideration. One should remember, however, that The Future of the Atlantic Fisheries does represent only an interim report and as such only briefly reviews the research material on which the recommendations and conclusions are based. This does not make the interim report any less valuable; it does make one look forward to the final product.


Weeks, E.P., and Anne Sommerville, “The Future of the Atlantic Fisheries: Interim Report,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 21, 2024,