A Conservative MP has raised the alarm about China’s influence over Nova Scotia’s lobster industry via buying and export controls at the Halifax International Airport.
According to South Shore – St. Margarets MP Rick Perkins, he’s worried about the size of China’s footprint in the lobster supply chain – a vital industry in the province.
“My concern overall is the growing influence of China and the control of our lobster industry itself and that’s throughout the supply chain,” said Perkins.
“They’re doing it through the back door what they couldn’t do through the front door, which was basically [to] own the actual fishing licences. They can’t do that, so they’re trying to control the buying and the export at the airport.”
At a parliamentary committee, Perkins said that he was “seeing China buy our buyers.”
“What’s the impact of that? I also understand they control the freight forwarder at the Halifax airport,” said Perkins.
Nova Scotia fisherman Colin Sproul responded to Perkins’ questions by saying that the government has a duty to maintain national control over supply chains, including in fishing.
“I’m really happy to hear you raise that issue. I think that’s one of the most important things that the government can do is ensure national Canadian control of our logistics chain within the country,” said Sprould.
According to Perkins, there was “foreign control of the live seafood terminal at Halifax.”
The Chinese company First Catch has spent $9 million to establish a lobster handling facility at the Halifax International Airport and is operating on a 25-year lease.
In response to the allegations, the company has accused the Conservative MP of being “kind of racist” by questioning their operations.
“I think because, recently, there’s a lot of Chinese people buying plants and then trying to get into this industry,” said First Catch president Lister Li.
“But by Chinese, I think those people are just Asian. Then maybe Canadian. Maybe they have a Canadian passport. Maybe they grew up here. It’s kind of racist.”
“It’s not a fact. We don’t control all the lobster handling in Halifax. We only do what we are shipping out,” she continued.
The Halifax International Airport Authority has also denied the claim that China controls exports of lobster.