On the Waterfront – March 2015

MP Calls On Feds to do More For Small Craft Harbours

Member of Parliament for Random-Burin-St. George’s, Judy Foote, says the Conservative government’s decision to reverse its decision on the number of cuts being made to the administration of Small Craft Harbours in Newfoundland and Labrador is welcome news, but it doesn’t go far enough.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced last fall that the number of areas and area managers was being reduced from four to two, along with a reduction from seven to six program officers, responsible for 335 harbours and 205 harbour authorities in the province.

These proposed cuts have since been modified. The number of areas and area managers will now be reduced from four to three and the number of program officers will remain at seven.

“While this is good news, clearly there should not be any cuts if they impact the operation of Small Craft Harbours,” said Foote.

“The federal government has always been fortunate that, because of the involvement of hundreds of volunteers in the local harbour authorities, the cost of operating Small Craft Harbours doesn’t cost more than it does. Those volunteers let it be known how serious the impact of the proposed cuts would be and threatened mass resignations if the Conservative government did not reconsider its decision.”

Iceland Enacting Huge Increase in Capelin Quota

The Icelandic Marine Research Institute has proposed a large increase in the capelin fishing quota of 320,000 tonnes since the last season, to 580,000 tonnes, Seafood.com reported.
Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannson has agreed with the recommendation and will enact the higher quota.

“It’s a significant boost (for the economy), which is positive, of course. We’re talking about a substantial amount of money entering the national economy and revenue for those who are working in this field, at sea or on land,” Sigurður said.

He said it is a further indication of favorable ocean conditions and said he expects good news on abundance of other fish stocks in Iceland’s seas.

Iceland has a capelin quota sharing arrangement with Norway, Greenland and the Faroes.

New CCG Centre to be Constructed in Charlottetown

Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Regional Minister for P.E.I., recently announced a 15-year lease has been awarded to a Charlottetown company to construct a new centre for Canadian Coast Guard operations on Prince Edward Island.

The contract for an Integrated Service Centre for the Coast Guard was awarded to A.P.M. Landmark Inc. following a public tendering process advertised in October, 2014. The centre will be located on John Yeo Drive in Charlottetown, next to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Area Office.

The contract, negotiated by Public Works and Government Services Canada on behalf of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, includes the possibility of two additional lease periods of five years each.

Shea said “this contract is just another example of our Government’s commitment to ensure the safety of our mariners. It will allow Coast Guard employees to work efficiently to provide essential safety, security and environmental protection services to the fishing industry and all mariners. This contract also means jobs and economic opportunities during the construction and for maintenance of the building for P.E.I.”

Snow Crab Harvests Off to Slow Start in Bering Sea

The Cordova Times is reporting catch rates for the commercial Bering Sea snow crab fishery are indicating another slow start to the season.

Daily harvest reports posted by NOAA Fisheries Service in Juneau show that through Feb. 3, vessels fishing with individual quotas have harvested 23,402,226 pounds, or 38 per cent of their total allocation of 61,155,000 pounds. That leaves another 37,752,774 pounds of the allocation left to harvest.

A total of 192 vessel landings have been made so far, 14 of them on Feb. 2, data reports showed.

Vessels harvesting the community development quota allocation (CDQ) of 6,795,000 pounds of snow crab have harvested 2,448,444 pounds, or 36 per cent, and still have 4,346,556 pounds of their allocation available. CDQ vessels have made a total of 14 landings through Feb. 3.

Hefty Halibut Fines Handed out

Keith Bath of La Scie has been fined, required to forfeit nearly $22,000 in Atlantic halibut and faces a number of fishing restrictions after being convicted on January 14, 2015 in Grand Bank Provincial Court on three separate offenses under the Federal Fisheries Act.

The charges include possessing Atlantic halibut during closed time, failing to accurately complete a fishing log, and failing to have all catch weighed and verified by a dockside observer.

Bath had over 4,000 pounds of whole and processed halibut valued at $21,928.45, specifically:

  • 2,706 pounds head-on gutted halibut;
  • 1,449 pounds of halibut fillets;
  • 50 pounds of halibut napes;
  • 30 pounds of halibut cheeks

He was sentenced to the following:

For possessing Atlantic halibut during closed time

  • $5,000 fine with 12 months to pay
  • Forfeiture of approximately $21,928.45 in value of Atlantic halibut
  • Increase Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) reporting frequency to report a position every 15 minutes for one year
  • Two self-funded observer coverage trips to be assigned at DFO discretion while fishing in 3Ps for one year
  • Cannot transfer license until fines are paid in full

For failing to accurately complete fishing log

  • $5,000 fine with 12 months to pay

For failing to have all catch weighed and verified by a dockside observer

  • $5,000 fine with 12 months to pay

He was also issued a restitution order of $500 to DFO with three months to pay.

Bath was charged following a covert night-time operation in St. Lawrence in August 2013. Fisheries officers watched as Bath’s vessel arrived in port from a 3Ps groundfish gillnetting trip. A check of the hail-in system was conducted and it was determined that no hail had been received from the vessel although it is a licence condition of the fishery.

As well, there was no dockside observer present as required by legislation. Officers continued their surveillance and a short time later observed several individuals placing fish into the pick-up. At that point officers approached the vessel and confirmed that a quantity of Atlantic halibut had been offloaded.

An investigation was initiated and the Atlantic halibut, valued at $21,928.45, was seized along with a 2010 Ford F-150 pickup truck. This fish was sold in the name of the Receiver General for Canada to a local buyer. An inspection of this fish by provincial fisheries inspectors later determined that it was not fit for human consumption due to decomposition. The fish had to be destroyed and was disposed of with the assistance of a local contractor, at a cost of $500.

In an unrelated DFO enforcement action, Jamie Churchill of St. Lawrence has been fined $1,500 for violating licence conditions.

Churchill was convicted in Grand Bank Provincial Court on December 10, 2014 for possessing undersized lobsters. He was fined $1,500 and forfeited the lobsters in question. The undersized lobsters were later released by a fisheries officer.

Sea Star Seafoods Increases Salt Fish Processing Capacity

Sea Star Seafoods has increased its salt fish processing and storage capacity with the opening of a new facility in Clark’s Harbour on the South Western tip of Nova Scotia.

According to Adlai Cunningham, President of Sea Star Seafoods Ltd., the new facility, which opened in mid-February, will allow the company to produce and store more of its salt fish products, including salt Atlantic and Pacific cod items, Atlantic and Alaska pollock products along with ling, hake and cusk offerings.

Sea Star has remained in the salt fish business in the midst of the collapse of the Canadian groundfish industry by maintaining a number of international distribution channels.

“We have built a loyal customer base, with distribution channels throughout North America and the Caribbean, on fish sourced from all over the globe. The hope still remains that one day our resource will recover, if so, we will be well positioned to take advantage. In the meantime we must continue sourcing internationally to provide our customers with the quality that they demand, when they need it. This new facility will help us further accomplish these goals,” Cunningham, said.

Canadian Lobster Sales Booming in China

The demand for Canadian lobsters from Chinese consumers has witnessed a rapid surge in recent years, Seafood.com is reporting.

Exports of Canadian lobster to China are now second only to exports to the U.S.

According to the latest figures from the Lobster Council of Canada, compared to only $6.7 million in 2010, Canada exported live lobsters worth $36.5 million to China in 2013, exceeding exports to the U.S. for the first time ever.

During the first 11 months of 2014, the amount reached $73 million, a year-on-year growth of 136 per cent.

The booming e-commerce market in China has also helped boost sales of imported lobsters, as Chinese online shoppers can buy fresh seafood thousands of miles away with a click of a mouse.

In 2013, as many as 20,000 Canadian lobsters were sold on Taobao, China’s leading online shopping platform, according to its founder Jack Ma.

Currently, the Lobster Council of Canada is working on rebranding Canadian lobsters for consumers to differentiate between lobsters from Canada and the U.S.

Marystown OCI Groundfish Plant Being Demolished

The former Ocean Choice International (OCI) fishplant in Marystown, on Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula will soon be no more.

Demolition has started on the 47-year-old groundfish plant.

Grand Bank-based Bennett’s Construction and Supplies has been contracted to remove the main structure of the plant and the standalone protein-processing portion of the complex.

At peak times, the facility employed upwards of 1,000 people and was one of the largest fishplants in the country.

White Cap/Sirena Buys 50 Per Cent of Quebec Shrimp Processor

White Cap International and Lyons Seafoods announced a partnership last month to purchase the Quebec company Les Pêcheries Marinard Ltée.

The consortium will take a 50 per cent share in Les Pecheries Marinard Ltee, along with existing management.

These leading international seafood companies acquire, in part, a jewel of the Gaspé fishing industry to consolidate their supply of certified quality shrimp products. The local shareholders, E. Gagnon et Fils Ltée, Oneil Bond, Réal Bond, fishermen, Les Pêcheries Réal Bond inc., Fiducie familiale Oneil Bond, 9084-8789 Quebec Inc., Lelièvre Lelièvre et Lemoignan Ltée, Roch Lelièvre and Benoît Reeves, remain as owners with 50 per cent of the share capital.

The deal will secure shrimp supplies for Lyons, and its customer, Marks and Spencer. White Cap has been exclusively representing shrimp from Pecheries Marinard and was instrumental in helping the company remain independent in 2009.

The Mariniere brand represented by White Cap is exclusive to Marks and Spencer.

White Cap is a subsidiary of Sirena, one of Scandinavia’s leading suppliers of North Atlantic frozen seafood and one of the world’s largest exporters of cooked and peeled cold-water shrimps.

John Gillett Pens New Book

Well known Newfoundland fishermen and regular Navigator contributor John Gillett has published a book on the seal hunt, entitled Leaving for the Seal Hunt: The Life of a Swiler.

Gillett grew up in Twillingate in the 1950s, idolizing the fishermen and sealing skippers who would visit his home to yarn with his father, the famous Captain George Gillett.

He spent most of his adult life as a sealer, beginning in the early winter of 1971, when he wrote his uncle and asked for a berth out on the ice with him aboard the Arctic Endeavour.

As a participant in the most controversial animal hunt in the world, Gillett also describes his run-ins with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and animal rights activists, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

In Leaving for the Seal Hunt, he shares stories of working with fellow sealers, of friendships that lasted a lifetime, of his many adventures on the ice and of defying death at every turn.

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