The territorial government is launching a new campaign to support the local fishing industry.
Plans are already being developed for a new fish processing plant on Great Slave Lake, and officials have previously said more than 100 jobs could be created if fishing in the NWT takes off again.
But a vital plank of the project to boost territorial fishing is ensuring demand for the product.
That’s one reason behind Saturday’s launch of the “NWT Fresh Fish from Great Slave Lake” logo – last year, a government document setting out plans for the NWT’s economy called for “a marketing and branding program to increase sales of local fish into the domestic market”.
The website launched to support the campaign urges residents to “look for this logo on in-store displays, signs and restaurant menus to know the NWT fresh fish on your plate was caught and delivered from the Great Slave Lake by a local fisherman”.
Speaking ahead of the launch, John Colford – who works with the fishing industry for the GNWT – told Moose FM: “The whole idea is to bring more market awareness to a product that we’ve had around here for centuries.
“It’s a terrific product that’s held in high regard in southern Canada.
“We’d like to increase its exposure and market position. We’d like to offer consumers, retailers and people in food service some additional promotional materials that they can use to better promote the product.”
Saturday’s launch involves campaigns between 12pm and 3pm at the Co-op in Yellowknife and Super A in Hay River, during which customers can get free fish in return for submitting their favourite fish-based recipes.
Last year, with fishing operations on the lake well below capacity, the government set aside some $1.5 million to revive the flagging industry.
“The industry has gone through some hard times over the last 10 years as a result of externally driven circumstances,” said Colford.
“We had a global recession, we had problems with currency and we had high costs for fuel which really hit our export fishery hard.”
Colford says this campaign is one of the first visible steps to long-term recovery for northern fishing.
“We really want to start promoting what we have here. We’ve got a whole range of products that we can produce here in the Northwest Territories that we can direct to northern markets,” he added.
“We think we have an excellent product, an excellent resource and an excellent group of producers up here who, with a bit of support, could do much better than they’re doing now.”