Government Denies Fishers’ Funding Request

Tuesday, January 06, 2004 at 14:42



Northern Saskatchewan’s commercial fishers are having a hard time convincing the provincial government to help fund a new fish processing plant in Prince Albert.


The fishers had made a 700-thousand-dollar funding request to Investment Saskatchewan, which is a subsidiary of the Crown Investments Corporation.


However, last month, the fishers were told their funding request had been turned down.


CIC spokesman Zach Douglas wouldn’t get into specifics, but says there were “fundamental problems” with the fishers’ funding proposal.


Commercial fishers’ spokesman Merle Hewison says the sticking point is Investment Saskatchewan’s insistence that it form a joint venture co-op with the fishers in managing the new plant, and that 25 per cent of the board be appointed by Investment Saskatchewan.


Hewison says that’s unacceptable to the fishers.


He also says the Farm Credit Corporation appears ready to commit a million dollars to the cause, and the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation 500-thousand dollars to the project — but Hewison says it will likely take a commitment from Investment Saskatchewan before all the other players put their money into the plant.


Hewison is hoping politicians in the NDP government will be able to convince Investment Saskatchewan to change its mind.


Fishers have already bought 1 million dollars in shares, but their co-op needs to secure an additional 3 million dollars in institutional funding for the plant to go ahead.


Construction on the new plant was supposed to begin in October. Hewison says construction needs to begin by early-April at the latest in order for it to be ready for the next fishing season.


Despite the latest setback, Hewison says fishers remain committed to seeing this project through.