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29 June 2015

Québec’s Maritime Strategy : a unique, ambitious and integrated project of economic, social and environmental development

Montréal, June 29, 2015 – “I am announcing today a series of measures that will enable us to benefit fully and sustainably from our maritime potential and make Québec a special gateway for major markets in northeastern North America. We have been working for several months on the strategy, which has been eagerly-awaited, first by a number of partners and investors that we met during missions abroad but also by Québec businesses and many Quebecers who live in the regions where spinoff will be especially apparent. It is a project that will mobilize Québec as a whole and that will have extensive economic, social and environmental benefits,” Québec Premier Philippe Couillard noted at the launching of the first Maritime Strategy in Québec’s history and the unveiling of the 2015-2020 Action Plan.

Minister for Transport and the Implementation of the Maritime Strategy Jean D’Amour, Minister of Tourism Dominique Vien, Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Montréal region Robert Poëti, Minister of Education, Higher Education and Research François Blais, Mayor of Montréal Denis Coderre, and President and CEO of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ Gaétan Morin attended the event in the Port of Montréal.

“The Maritime Strategy is at one and the same time ambitious and realistic. It seeks to foster sustainable growth in Québec’s maritime economy and encourage the creation of stimulating jobs in all regions of Québec. By 2030, we estimate at 30 000 the number of direct jobs created in all regions. Tourism, fishing, logistics, research and maritime transport are some of the sectors that will benefit from the positive impact on employment,” Minister D’Amour said.

The initial action plan under the Maritime Strategy hinges on a financial framework of more than $1.5 billion unveiled in March 2015.

Focusing on a maritime economy

Premier Couillard emphasized the importance of taking advantage of Québec’s strategic geographical location in order to promote the creation of business opportunities linked to the maritime economy. He then announced major infrastructure investments related to the maritime sector and the establishment logistical hubs under a multi-site approach.

Among the other measures put forward to capitalize on the maritime territory’s economic potential, the Maritime Strategy calls for:

  • the strengthening of the logistics chain;
  • the establishment of industrial port zones;
  • the reinforcement of the fishing and aquaculture industries;
  • maritime tourism development;
  • the development of scientific knowledge;
  • the designation of protected marine areas.

“The establishment of logistical hubs and of industrial port zones will make Québec a key partner for companies wishing to do business in Québec, in particular along the St. Lawrence River. By choosing Québec, businesses can integrate into an efficient logistical process, round out their production chain here and benefit from competitive advantages that the Maritime Strategy offers to enhance a company’s performance,” Premier Couillard added.

Moreover, the government intends to collaborate with the maritime industry to better satisfy employers’ needs. Over the next five years, $15 million will be invested in manpower development to achieve the highest levels of knowledge.

“The Greater Montréal area and the Port of Montréal figure prominently in the rollout of the Maritime Strategy, which will enable the Port of Montréal to reaffirm its role as a leading port in North America. Furthermore, the government intends to support port and intermodal infrastructure projects devoted to freight transportation. Our reliance on marine infrastructure and intermodal transport will bolster the competitiveness of Québec businesses and Québec will, more than ever, serve as a hub for transatlantic trade,” Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Montréal region Robert Poëti noted.

Develop maritime tourism

“The St. Lawrence River is an outstanding asset to attract visitors. In 2008, the Québec government decided to develop six new cruise stopovers, a winning decision. Last year, Québec attracted 355 000 cruise passengers and crew members, a record season. We now want to improve the cruise terminals in Montréal and Québec City. What is more, $55 million was earmarked in the last Budget for the projects. We have also allocated $30 million to support projects that will develop, in particular, land tours between stopovers. We want tourists to discover the beauty of the river, which offers numerous landscapes, whether they are cycling, walking, driving or sailing,” Minister of Tourism Dominique Vien said.

The Maritime Strategy also intends to make the most of the growing popularity of the St. Lawrence River and develop maritime tourism potential north and south of the 49th parallel. The government will, therefore, pursue the implementation of the Stratégie de mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent touristique 2014-2020 and its 2014-2017 action plan. In addition to the investments mentioned earlier, $21.6 million will be earmarked for the development of certain natural attractions along the river.

Support the fishing and aquaculture industry

In addition to pursuing the implementation of the Plan d’action 2013-2018 : Développer notre industrie des pêches et de l’aquaculture commerciales, the Maritime Strategy intends to rely on the perspectives that marine biotechnology offers to step up the diversification of production using seafood products. Financial assistance totalling $4.1 million will be reserved for business innovation projects, especially in the marine biotechnology sector, and $5 million has been allocated to support applied research and innovation. Among the other measures adopted in the action plan, mention should be made of support for fishing fleets wishing to obtain environmental certification and support for measures geared to the sustainable management of fish stocks and other fishery resources. The government has also confirmed the maintenance of $15 million in financial support for the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry over the next three years.

Develop knowledge and protect the environment

Given the growing pressure on the aquatic and riverine environment stemming from growing numbers of users of our riverine and maritime territory, Premier Couillard stressed the need to display greater vigilance to protect the ecosystems found there. This desire is expressed, in particular, through the development of scientific knowledge. The Premier confirmed the establishment of the Réseau Québec Maritime, a body that will assemble the requisite expertise to contend with maritime challenges, and the proposed creation of a France-Québec scientific institute devoted to maritime questions.

What is more the government intends to devote more than $2.5 million over the next five years to enhance emergency response measures at the local, regional and provincial level, and our knowledge, to prepare for any eventuality as regards hydrocarbon spills in Québec’s maritime territory. Furthermore, $875 000 will be allocated to knowledge acquisition, in particular to attain the objectives under international agreements to establish a network of marine protected areas covering at least 10 % of the sea area.

“In addition to ensuring the preservation of our ecosystems by improving, among other things, risk management related to maritime transport, we will bank on the advantages of this means of transportation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect our coastal areas. I would also like to emphasize the contribution of the 2015-2020 Action Plan in the Maritime Strategy, which is adding to our efforts to round out our network of marine protected areas. Together, we can combat climate change to ensure the quality of life of future generations,” Minister D’Amour added.

Enhance Quebecers’ quality of life

“The quality of life of Quebecers living in riverside and coastal regions is a major concern of the Maritime Strategy, which will act as a lever to promote the occupation and vitality of the regions. It includes measures to enhance the quality of life of communities and reduce the isolation of certain communities. Today, it is essential to give communities access to stimulating jobs. This is precisely what the Maritime Strategy is seeking to do by 2030, among other things through some $9 billion in public and private investments. Through such investments, in particular, we will make the Maritime Strategy a cornerstone of the Québec economy in the coming years,” Minister D’Amour said.

The strategy offers an array of means of action to revitalize Québec’s coastal regions, including the consultation and involvement of communities, an enhanced ferry service offer, the promotion of jobs in the maritime sector, training matched to the needs of the local market, and measures to attract and retain young people in the regions.

“The government and community interveners are already at work to meet the significant worker training challenge that the Maritime Strategy poses. I am thinking, in particular, of the elaboration of a new vocational studies program in seamanship, which will begin in the fall of 2015. This is a striking example of the manner in which the education network will support this sector by offering young people solid training that leads to promising trades,” Minister Blais said.

“With the Maritime Strategy, we are inviting all Quebecers to benefit from the full potential that the wealth of our vast maritime territory offers. It is an invitation to work together to fully take advantage of stimulating careers for our youth, unique landscapes for our families, and growth opportunities for our businesses,” the Premier concluded.

The unabridged version of the Maritime Strategy is available at strategiemaritime.gouv.qc.ca in the “Publications” section.

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