On the Waterfront – June 2015

2015 Prices Set for Shrimp and Crab

The Newfoundland price arbitration panel selected the harvesters’ offer of $1.40 per pound for a blended price for coldwater shrimp, rejecting the $1.28 offered by the province’s shrimp processors, Seafood.com reported.

The price represents a significant increase from last fall, when the blended price was $1.08 per pound.

With little global production yet and a dry market, shrimp prices heard at the Brussels Seafood Show continued to be very high, but customers were reacting to the current price levels by cutting their orders and buying hand to mouth, the popular seafood website reported.

Only a small portion of Newfoundland shrimp is produced in the second quarter, as most harvesters are pursuing crab. That fishery is shut down if molting begins and soft shell crab are present, so there is pressure to harvest crab first, and it pays a higher price.

However, one positive story at the show is that the Newfoundland Association of Seafood Producers and Royal Greenland have launched a joint marketing project for coldwater shrimp in the UK market. They have hired Karen Galloway, formerly of SeaFish, to help introduce cold water shrimp as a high end product to chefs.

In the UK market, this involves setting up a series of seminars with young chefs to re-think how they might use coldwater prawns.

On the N.L. snow crab front, the price setting panel recently accepted the FFAW’s May 2 reconsideration request and increased the minimum price of snow crab by 11 cents per pound.

The minimum price established by the panel is $2.45/pound. This can only change according to the strength or weakness of the American currency against the Canadian currency. The $2.45 price is based on a rate of 1.2623, which was the average exchange rate the week prior to the fishery opening. The currency change can affect the price in 12-cent increments.

In April, the panel had set the initial crab price at $2.34/pound.

Fish Bait Plant Destroyed by Fire

Fire severely damaged the Wm. R. Murphy Fisheries’ bait plant in Charlesville, N.S. last month.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but it started in the freezer section, a company spokesperson said. A passerby saw smoke coming from the back corner of the building, alerted two employees preparing bait inside and called 911.

The facility — a large building with three freezers — employed up to six people to store and sell bait for lobsters.

Cold Temperatures Cause of Winter Fish Kill

A Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture staff investigation of aquaculture sites affected by a salmon and trout fish kill earlier this year has concluded environmental conditions, not disease, were likely responsible.

“This was a harsh winter in Nova Scotia and our fish health veterinarians have concluded this was the likely cause of the fish kill experienced at sites around the province,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell.

“No significant disease agents were detected at any of the sites and cleanup has been completed by the operators.”

Financial losses from the fish kill do not involve the provincial government and no compensation will be provided.

“This is a rare situation related to one of the coldest winters we’ve experienced in a long time,” Colwell said.

“As we go forward, we’ll continue to proactively release information related to investigations as we have done in this case. That’s part of our commitment to enhanced transparency in the regulation of aquaculture in Nova Scotia.”

Fines For Illegal Fishing Of Atlantic Halibut Total Over $1 Million

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is taking a more intelligence-led and longer-term approach to conserving and protecting fishery resources in Atlantic Canada and its efforts are paying off for the Atlantic halibut fishery in particular.

DFO’s increased focus on the monitoring of catch and landings of Atlantic halibut has resulted in a long line of convictions, totaling over $1 million in fines and forfeitures over the last five years.

Atlantic halibut is an important resource and great efforts have been made to rebuild this fishery over the last decade. In an effort to identify and reduce threats to this fishery, the department has modernized its approach to conservation and protection. This includes information collection, longer-term analysis and comprehensive investigations that have resulted in more substantial fines and consequently greater deterrence to illegal fishing activities.

Fishery officers in Atlantic Canada undertook a comprehensive, multi-year investigation into this fishery to identify relationships between players in the fishery and charge the key culprits for illegal fishing, possession and sale of Atlantic halibut.

Fishery officers carried out extensive monitoring and surveillance operations, sometimes covert in nature, and gathered forensic intelligence from multiple sources, such as logbooks, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) reports and processor files and retail operation records. Since the start of this major investigation in 2010, fishery officers’ efforts have led to 164 convictions across Atlantic Canada, with fines totaling $1,178,000 so far.

P.E.I. Mussel Industry Back in Full Production

The mussel industry is once again back on the water and able to supply their famous mussels after an unprecedented winter on Prince Edward Island.

This past winter brought record snowfalls to Prince Edward Island with over 18 feet (551 cm) being accumulated in some areas. The weight of this snowfall affected the ice conditions and made harvesting extremely difficult.

“Ensuring the safety of our farmers and employees was first and foremost as ice conditions were constantly changing”, said Linda Duncan, Executive Director of the Mussel Industry Council of P.E.I.

“This made keeping up with full production a significant challenge for everyone.”

Despite all the challenges this past winter, consumers recognized the harvesting difficulties and were understanding that production was being limited.

“Mussels are one of the most popular dishes we offer and we always serve the freshest mussels from Prince Edward Island”, said Jon Hebert, Executive Chef of The Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire. “There was only one option to us, which was to take them off our menu until supplies returned, because it’s very important to me to serve only the best mussels we can.”

P.E.I. mussels are the top selling mussel in North America, with a yield of over 50 million pounds (22,730 tonnes) harvested annually. The P.E.I. industry represents 80 per cent of Canadian mussel production.

Hefty Fines Handed Out in Illegal Lobster Trap Case

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region, announced April 23 that two Yarmouth County men, arrested in 2012 for possessing 6,222 illegal-sized lobsters, were convicted and fined a total of $62,500 under the Fisheries Act.

A surveillance operation conducted by local fishery officers in Comeau’s Hill on April 27, 2012 uncovered 24 cages of lobsters onboard fishing vessel Melanie Lynn II.

Appearing before the Yarmouth court on April 17, 2015, Earl Patrick Boudreau pleaded guilty to possession of undersized lobsters measuring less than 82.5 millimetres. He received a fine of $50,000 to be paid by May 2, 2017 and is prohibited from fishing lobster in Canada for a period of three years effective June 1, 2015.

Dennis Joseph Clairmont also pleaded guilty to possession of undersized lobsters measuring less than 82.5 millimetres. He received a fine of $12,500 to be paid by July 5, 2016 and is prohibited from fishing lobster in Canada for one year effective June 1, 2015.

More Fisheries-related Convictions Announced

Basil Diamond and Gary Hoffe, both of Change Islands, have been convicted on a total of three counts under Section 22(7) of the Fishery (General) Regulations.

All three charges relate to a crab pot sharing scheme where Hoffe, after reaching his crab quota, left his pots in the water for Diamond to fish.

Hoffe was convicted in Gander Provincial Court on April 21, 2015 on one count of the Fishery (General) Regulations, namely failing to remove his pots from the water after taking his quota, thus allowing Diamond to fish them. Hoffe received a $1,250 fine.

Diamond was convicted in Gander Provincial Court on April 21, 2015 on two separate counts of the Fishery (General) Regulations, and fined $4,542.80 in total. For exceeding the maximum number of crab pots permitted to be fished, he received a fine of $1,500 and forfeited 236 pounds of crab valued at $542.80. For failing to fully and accurately complete his fishing log on a daily basis, also known as misreporting, Diamond was fined $2,500.

Both men have two years to pay the fines and are not permitted to transfer their licences until the fines are paid.

DFO also announced that a Lunenburg County man has been convicted and fined a total of $70,000 under the Fisheries Act for failing to provide an accurate hail of fish on board his vessel and failing to determine an accurate weight at dockside.

Appearing before the Bridgewater Provincial Court on April 17, 2015, John William Levy Jr. pleaded guilty to the aforementioned charges, and was fined $35,000 for each offence. Levy was ordered to pay $5,000 per offence immediately, with the remaining $60,000 to be paid by May 11, 2016.

The charges are a result of a June 24, 2009 investigation into fraud and collusion in the fishing industry, with a subsequent search on May 19, 2011. It is alleged that over a three-year period of time, ranging from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008, Levy failed to report landing approximately 180,000 pounds of groundfish.

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