Friday, September 14, 2007
For immediate release
The provincial government has announced a new low interest loan program for fishers experiencing financial difficulties because of declining lobster landings and rising costs. Fishers in Lobster Fishing Areas 25 and 26A with net cash positions less than $40,000 will be eligible for loans on their fishing related debts. The program will be administered by the Prince Edward Island Lending Agency.
“This fulfills a commitment we made during the last election campaign to establish a low interest program for lobster fishers facing difficult times,” said Premier Robert Ghiz. “This new program responds to requests from the Prince Edward Island Fishermens Association and individual fishers for assistance, and is part of our ongoing efforts to achieve a more stable and sustainable fishery in the province.”
The loans will be provided at an interest rate of four percent for a term of five years. Eligible expenses which can be consolidated under this program must be attributed to the fishery. Existing consumer debt will be deemed ineligible for consolidation purposes. The maximum individual loan amount will be $200,000. It is estimated that fishers may save more than $10 million in interest charges over the term of the program. Loan applications will be accepted until March 31, 2008.
“This new program is aimed at those fishers who are experiencing financial difficulties and who have good prospects for financial sustainability with access to low interest loans,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Allan Campbell. “Over the past two months, I have met with fishers at a number of ports along the Northumberland Strait who have told me of the importance of a low interest loan program to help many continue in the fishery.”
The program will not provide low interest loans for new entrants into the fishery. Loans will not be made to fishers in such cases where their financial situation has deteriorated beyond the point of long-term viability, regardless of a low interest rate.
Mr. Campbell said the low interest loan program is part of larger efforts to deal with the problem of decreased lobster landings in the Northumberland Strait. He said the provincial government will continue to work with industry towards a rationalization of the number of fishers in the Northumberland Strait through a lobster license buy-back program involving the federal government. Three working groups will also be bringing forward recommendations on alternative management measures, habitat improvement and economic diversification in the Northumberland Strait.
In some areas of the Northumberland Strait, lobster landings have declined by more than 25 percent over the previous 20 year average. Lobster landings in LFAs 25 and 26A averaged seven million pounds over the past ten years. The total economic value of these landings is approximately $70 million and provides employment to more than 2500 people.
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For additional information, contact Wayne MacKinnon.

PEI Lending Agency - 368-6200