On the Waterfront – January 2021

FCC Praises Canada-U.K. Transitional Trade Deal

The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) recently applauded the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom for reaching a transitional trade deal ahead of the Dec. 31, 2020 deadline.

The new transitional trade deal will ensure that Canadian seafood products will continue to enjoy tariff-free access to Britain.

“The Canadian fishing industry values its trading relationship with the United Kingdom as our fifth largest importer,” said Paul Lansbergen, President, FCC.

“A free and open trade agreement between our two countries plays a significant role in the economies of our nations.”

The U.K. is Canada’s fifth largest single country seafood export market, totaling $131 million in 2019.

The top product grouping exports to the U.K. are salmon (35 per cent), shrimp and prawns (26 per cent), lobsters (25 per cent) and scallops (five per cent).

“The importance of the U.K. market to individual companies can be significant. If the two governments had not reached this transitional agreement, Canadian fish and seafood exports would have faced increased tariffs. Based on FCC’s own analysis using 2019 export data, the applicable proposed tariffs would have added roughly $11 million CAD on the top four product groupings mentioned above. This would represent an average tariff rate of nearly 10 per cent and would have put Canadian products at a distinct disadvantage to other countries,” the FCC stated in a press release.

“I urge all Parliamentarians to swiftly ratify this agreement so that it can go into effect by January 1, 2021,” said Lansbergen. “Canadians working in the fisheries sector supply chain will thank you.”

Conservation Group Claims DFO Inaction Devaluing Mackerel Stocks

Inaction by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) on measures to rebuild the Atlantic mackerel stock is reducing the long-term value of the fishery by more than $50 million, claims a new cost-benefit analysis released by Halifax-based Oceans North.

“The Atlantic mackerel population has been declining for over a decade, with levels only 1/20th of what they were in the 1980s,” says Katie Schleit, Senior Fisheries Advisor for Oceans North. “Yet quota decisions continue to be made that prioritize catches over rebuilding. At current trajectories, this could lead to the closure of the fishery — an experience with which Atlantic Canada is all too familiar.”

Gardner-Pinfold Consulting conducted a cost-benefit analysis for Oceans North to assess the trade-offs between short-term and long-term fishing under different management scenarios over a 19-year time period.

Atlantic mackerel support both natural ecosystems and coastal livelihoods. Fishermen catch mackerel for commercial sale and also use them as bait for the region’s most lucrative fisheries, including lobster, crab and bluefin tuna. Additionally, mackerel are fished recreationally, providing a source of food and a connection to the ocean for everyday people.

“DFO has often justified its quota decisions based on the potential economic impact of a decrease. The analysis shows that minimizing fishing could lead to benefits estimated at over $54 million, with a 12.9 per cent return on the investment in stock rebuilding.”

“DFO’s recent management decisions or rebuilding plan have neither prioritized rebuilding the population nor taken into account what’s best for the long-term future of the fishery,” explained Schleit. “We know from other regions that forage fish such as mackerel can recover if the proper measures are in place. Failure to make the right decisions at the right time puts coastal ecosystems and communities at risk.”

New N.L. Organization Aiming to Raise Search and Rescue Accountability

A group of citizens concerned with enhancing ground and sea search and rescue operations in Newfoundland and Labrador has officially kickstarted, with an immediate aim to achieve standing at the provincial Search and Rescue Inquiry announced in July 2020.

The mandate of the Inquiry into Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons in Newfoundland and Labrador is to examine the current system and propose recommendations for existing gaps. It arose from the loss of 14-year-old Burton Winters in Makkovik, Labrador in January 2012.

The Concerned Citizens for Search and Rescue (CC-SAR), led by retired Canadian Coast Guard coordinator Merv Wiseman, says while there is no certainty about what the long-promised inquiry will achieve, his team’s short-term goal is to seek standing when it gets underway.

“One thing we have learned about the unacceptable loss of Burton Winters and the closure of the Maritime Search and Rescue Centre (MSRC) that same year is the power of advocacy to effect change.”

Wiseman noted the current long-overdue inquiry and the restoration of the MSRC in 2018, as well as all subsequent enhancements to SAR were all achieved from a massive public outcry about the critical role of SAR in the lives of people of this province.

“Newfoundland and Labrador has twice the national average in distress incidents at sea and we operate in one of the hardest environments in the world — whether at sea or on land, so we deserve the best preventative and response system.”

Wiseman explains the intention of the group is to ensure there is enduring public accountability in the delivery of SAR services for the people of N.L. for years to come.

“Our long-term goal is a world-class SAR system on behalf of all citizens of NL,” adding that, “The lessons of complacency and capitulation towards those who would consider degrading our SAR system and the lifeline to cultural activities of our people has been learned — and we must be vigilant that it is never forgotten.”

Other members of CC-SAR include Johanna Ryan Guy who lost two brothers at sea on the Ryan’s Commander in 2004, as well as Captain Wilfred Bartlett, Kim Ploughman and Sheldon Peddle.

Quinlan Brothers Using ActivePure Technology at N.L. Operations

Quinlan Brothers Ltd. recently announced the addition of ActivePure air and surface purification technology for all of its operations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Amid a global pandemic, health and safety concerns are widespread, demanding greater vigilance and adjustments to provide reassurance to stakeholders and employees, as well as their families and the community at large, the company stated.

ActivePure Technology, sourced locally through PFS Health Solutions, was originally developed for use by NASA on the international space station and adapted for commercial use by Texas headquartered Aerus LLC. In recent testing by MRI Global of their Hydroxyl Blaster, this technology has already proven to be 99.98 per cent safe and effective at killing a wide range of viruses and pathogens, including E. coli, salmonella, listeria and staph in the air and on surfaces, and has proven to be 99.98 per cent effective at killing the virus (SARS-CoV-2) responsible for COVID-19 on surfaces.

“This is a significant investment for our organization and we are pleased to assure our employees and their families that we are taking this step to enhance our public health practices and further protect our community from the spread of viruses, including COVID-19,” said Robin Quinlan, President of Quinlan Brothers Ltd.

“ActivePure Technology is widely used in the U.S. and has been installed here in Newfoundland and Labrador in key areas, such as our health sector, in dental clinics, restaurants and on offshore support vessels. This addition of ActivePure technology to our three processing plants located in Bay de Verde, Old Perlican and Baie Verte as well as our administration offices means that Quinlan facilities will be 100 per cent protected once complete.”

“The heart and soul of our business is our employees,” added Quinlan. “Despite the tremendous amount of change in our industry this past year, our people show up to work every day and do their part to keep our workplaces safe and healthy. We see this investment as a way that our company can continue to show up for them.”

Stright-MacKay and Mermaid Marine Products Join Forces

Two well-established marine distributors with deep Maritime roots are joining together to form a single company.

Maritime Marine Supply will begin filling orders for marine dealers and boat builders across Canada beginning in January 2021.

Stright-MacKay and Mermaid Marine each have their own history and identity.

“Maritime Marine will combine the strengths of both companies without sacrificing the qualities that made each company unique,” says company president, Ron Savidant.

In 2019, a family-owned business from Nova Scotia purchased Stright-MacKay and Mermaid Marine. Since that time, the two companies have continued to operate independently. For the past six months, Stright-MacKay and Mermaid Marine have shared a management team. This is the same team that will lead Maritime Marine Supply into the future.

Ron Savidant will serve as president and Lee Toole will be vice president of sales. Savidant has played a vital role in Mermaid Marine’s growth over the past 23 years. He has held the position of general manager since 2007. Toole has worked with Stright-MacKay for 20 years, spending much of his time as sales manager.

In 1948, Stright-MacKay Ltd. was founded as a boat building firm in Pictou, Nova Scotia. It quickly developed a solid reputation for constructing superior yachts and commercial vessels. It also developed a retail outlet for commercial fishing supplies. In 1982, the company decided to focus on distribution in order to meet the growing demand for marine equipment and supplies.

Mermaid Marine Products was founded in Vallée du Richelieu, Quebec, in 1973. The company initially repaired transmissions. Before long, Mermaid Marine moved to Prince Edward Island where it moved from engine repair into the sale of parts and accessories. Since then, Mermaid has steadily grown into its present form as a modern, computerized depot.

True North Seafood Recommended as Sustainable by Ocean Wise

True North Seafood recently announced its partnership with the Ocean Wise Seafood program.

Ocean Wise Seafood is a conservation program that makes it easy for consumers to choose sustainable seafood for the long-term health of our oceans. True North Seafood, the flagship brand of family-owned Cooke Inc., is one of the largest and most trusted providers of seafood globally.

Ocean Wise Seafood recommendations cover both farmed and wild seafood. The organization works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and seafood suppliers to ensure they have the most current scientific information regarding sustainable seafood and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. Sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices include:

  • Harvesting that ensures healthy and resilient stocks and populations.
  • Effective and adaptive management.
  • Limited negative impacts on habitats and other species.

“With this Ocean Wise Seafood recommendation for our wild fishery and aquaculture products, our customers can feel confident that the work our fishermen and sea farmers do every day ensures our products come from a sustainable, responsibly harvested resource,” said Joel Richardson, Vice President of Public Relations, Cooke Inc.

“True North Seafood carries several third-party certifications, which attests that our products meet the highest standards. We are delighted to add the Ocean Wise symbol next to our seafood items, assuring customers of an ocean-friendly seafood choice.”

True North Seafood now offers the following wild-caught products as Ocean Wise Seafood recommended: bay scallops, sea scallops, sockeye salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, coho salmon, dungeness crab, Pacific cod, pollock and Pacific halibut. The recommendation also includes the company’s farm-raised oysters and whiteleg shrimp.

“The Ocean Wise Seafood program is proud to partner with True North Seafood and work with them to increase access to sustainable seafood options for their customers. Partnering with influential businesses like True North Seafood will send a strong message to industry that preferentially choosing sustainable seafood helps ensure the long-term success of this industry,” said Sophika Kostyniuk, Ocean Wise Seafood Program Manager.

MSC Joins Call for WTO to End Fishing Subsidies

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the latest organization to urge the World Trade Organization (WTO) to abolish harmful fishing subsidies and to deliver the UN target to eliminate them by the end of the year.

According to the MSC, over $22 billion of harmful “capacity building” fishing subsidies will lead to overfishing and loss of livelihoods and income for coastal communities.

The MSC explained, “harmful fishing subsidies are incompatible with and undermine the MSC’s vision of healthy and productive marine ecosystems with seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.”

The WTO began negotiations on these subsidies at the 2001 Ministerial Conference in Doha. Since then, overfished stocks have increased from 27 per cent to 34 per cent, per Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data, in part enabled by harmful subsidies.

The MSC’s Chief Executive, Rupert Howes said, “Humanity is at a crossroads. Urgent and ambitious action is required now. As the world emerges from the global COVID pandemic, progress must be made to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The ending of harmful fishing subsidies will benefit the oceans, fishers and their communities and consumers. It will also release much needed funding to support sustainable fishing and the delivery of the remaining ocean-related targets in the SDGs, if redirected appropriately. We hope that the WTO will seize this enormous opportunity before them.”

Five years ago, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted and the WTO was tasked with implementing SDG 14.6, targeting a mechanism to eliminate subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing by 2020.

“As the end of 2020 approaches, the MSC adds its voice to calls made by Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Oceans and Co-Chair of Friends for Ocean Action, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Environmental Justice Foundation, WWF International and more than 170 civil society organizations to urge WTO delegates to deliver on this mandate and not to postpone their decision,” the MSC wrote in a statement.

Deepwater Fisheries Research Demonstrates eDNAtec’s Technology

The results of a collaborative study with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in the deep ocean off the coast of Labrador recently demonstrated eDNAtec’s technology.

St. John’s-based eDNAtec specializes in environmental genomics and is revolutionizing how to assess, monitor and characterize the ocean through the reading of “environmental DNA” (eDNA; the DNA shed into the ocean by the thousands of organisms that live there) to support ocean industries such as oil and gas and fisheries.

In 2018, the DFO partnered with eDNAtec’s Centre for Environmental Genomics Applications and Memorial University’s Marine Institute to enhance its first-ever deep ocean biodiversity research program in the Labrador Sea. The “ISE-COLD” (Integrated Studies and Ecosystem Characterization of the Labrador Sea Deep Ocean) program is designed to explore the Labrador Sea deep ocean ecosystem to understand the diversity of fishery resources.

Among other research objectives, the study directly compared conventional biodiversity assessment techniques to eDNA technology.

Dr. Mehrdad Hajibabaei, eDNAtec’s Founder and Chief Scientific Officer is pleased with the results.

“Our eDNA technology helped capture a comprehensive understanding of the deep ocean off Labrador’s coast — an understudied but very unique and important ecosystem. The findings show that our eDNA technology has great potential for monitoring the full abundance of fish populations in such a challenging environmental setting. It proved our technology is able to detect more species than a combination of trawling, baited cameras and acoustics, providing faster, safer and more comprehensive results with only a fraction of the ship time and labour.”

eDNAtec was founded in 2017 and owns and operates the Centre for Environmental Genomics Applications (CEGA). CEGA was established by eDNAtec and its partners as a centre of excellence and the first research facility fully dedicated to advance environmental genomics technologies for real-world applications. CEGA is a one-of-a-kind world-class centre employing a team of experts equipped with high throughput sequencing platforms and specialized data analysis tools that are completely dedicated to environmental genomics applications.

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