Fisheries Agreement Reached Between Government of Canada and Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government
On April 18, the Canadian Federal Government and the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government announced that they have agreed to a landmark plan to advance reconciliation in the fisheries.
The five-year renewable Rights Reconciliation Agreement on Fisheries addresses areas of mutual interest and will help foster improved relationships with, and outcomes for, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq community by:
- Upholding the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision regarding Mi’gmaq First Nations’ Treaty right to harvest and sell fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, supported by collaborative discussions founded in mutual respect and understanding.
- Reducing socio-economic gaps by supporting the Listuguj Mi’gmaq’s capacity to participate in the fisheries — with the goal of economic self-reliance — by obtaining additional fisheries access, such as through licences and quota, as well as vessels and gear.
- Establishing a co-developed and collaborative approach to fisheries governance.
This agreement was reached in the spirit of collaboration and in a manner consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the federal Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous peoples.
This includes, among other things, recognition of the inherent jurisdiction and legal orders of Indigenous nations, and that these are the starting point for discussions aimed at interactions between federal and Indigenous jurisdictions and laws, including those related to fisheries.
The Agreement will advance the implementation of rights and make real progress on issues of great importance to the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation. Having a long-term agreement in place will not only benefit the Listuguj First Nation, it will also assist the broader fishing communities in Quebec and New Brunswick by helping provide for stable, predictable and sustainable fisheries for all harvesters in the region.
The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government is one of eight Mi’gmaq communities in Gespe’gewa’gi, all of which have a treaty right to hunt, fish and gather for a “moderate livelihood,” as confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decisions.
Initial discussions between the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation and the Government of Canada on the Rights Reconciliation Agreement on Fisheries began in 2018.
DFO Expands List of Minor Offences Subject to a Ticket
Starting on April 28, 2021, federal fishery officers will be able to issue tickets for minor fishery offences in the provinces of British Columbia, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.
For many years, minor fishery offences required both the accused and the fishery officer to go through a formal court process. Now, thanks to changes to the Contraventions Regulations, fishery officers have the discretion to issue tickets for more minor fishery offences, rather than having to go to court. This will allow officers and courts to focus on more serious offences and, as a result, improve the effectiveness of courts in delivering timely justice to Canadians. The expansion of the list of minor offences will lessen the burden on all parties, including the courts, fishery officers, and commercial and recreational harvesters, by providing an efficient alternative for the prosecution of minor offences.
This expansion of ticketable offences has been long sought after. For some provinces such as Newfoundland and Labrador, the amendments will allow for ticketing of minor federal fishery offences for the very first time. The Government of Canada will continue to look to expand this approach in other regions.
Tickets are an additional tool to ensure compliance with fishery regulations. With these changes, fishery officers maintain the discretion to take the required enforcement action deemed appropriate. For example, a fishery officer may issue a warning instead of a ticket, lay charges, or choose to proceed through court when necessary. The enforcement action depends on a number of factors, such as the severity of the offence, or whether the accused has received previous warnings.
Examples of common minor fishery offences that may now result in a ticket in all the affected regions are:
- Failing to comply with the conditions of a licence, which could result in a $750 ticket;
- Failing to carry and produce on demand a licence, which could result in a $100 ticket;
- Or wasting fish that is suitable for human consumption could result in a $200 base fine for the first fish, plus $50 per additional fish wasted.
First Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Grid Closure
The snow crab season in the Gulf of St. Lawrence kicked off in mid-April and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced the first grid closure related to North Atlantic right whales on April 26.
“Spotted: North Atlantic #RightWhales are officially back in Canadian waters,” the official DFO Twitter tweeted. “Our 2021 fisheries measures are now in place to help protect these whales for the duration of their stay in Canada.”
Beginning April 29, 2021 at 5 p.m., grids GY55, GY56, GY57, GZ55, GZ56, HA56 and HA57 were closed for 15 days. A portion of grid HA55 was also closed for this time period. The grids are in fishing areas 12F, total allowable catch of 1,192.24 tonnes.
N.B. Budget Investment Made to Help Food Self-Sufficiency
The New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries recently announced it will invest $1.5 million to improve food self-sufficiency in the province.
Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson made the announcement while tabling the department’s budgetary estimates for 2021–22.
“The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps and threats within the food supply chain, which could have an impact on food security in New Brunswick,” said Johnson. “This additional investment will help us work with stakeholders to take advantage of opportunities to increase self-sufficiency in some food products.”
Work to date has included evaluating the threats, risks and vulnerabilities to the current food value chain that New Brunswick consumers rely on and exploring the best options to address the risks identified. The department has implemented a series of key initiatives that will contribute to strengthening New Brunswick’s food system and improving food self-sufficiency that will focus on fruit and vegetable production, controlled environment farming and indoor farming, expansion of abattoir capacity, distribution and food processing.
An additional $660,000 will also be invested to support changes to the AgriStability program that helps farmers manage risk to their income by providing financial assistance when their farm business experiences a large margin decline.
The federal, provincial and territorial governments recently agreed to remove the reference margin limit for AgriStability, which is one of the business risk management programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Costs are shared 60 per cent by the federal government and 40 per cent by provincial and territorial governments.
Clearwater Lands Deal with Fleet Xpress Broadband Service
Satellite Communications provider Inmarsat announced it has signed a deal with Canadian seafood giant Clearwater Seafoods to implement its Fleet Xpress high-speed maritime broadband services.
Clearwater will install the Fleet Xpress combination of high-speed Ka-band and continuous FleetBroadband backup onboard seven vessels replacing Ku-band services on each vessel.
“Robust connectivity for the crew is imperative for Clearwater,” says Brad MacKinnon, Director, Canadian Fleet Operations, Clearwater Seafood.
“We have over 400 personnel at sea who expect stable and reliable connectivity in challenging North Atlantic conditions, given that they can be away from home for up to 35 days at a time.”
The contract between the parties includes Inmarsat’s Fleet Care program. This program provides customers the ability to “secure all spare parts for 36 months on purchased hardware and benefit from a lifetime warranty for rented equipment, with free of charge support from certified technicians in over 50 ports worldwide. Fleet Care also includes remote equipment health checks and allows customers to update without additional cost as new hardware develops.”
“This contract represents outstanding recognition of the Fleet Xpress platform which will make waves among fishing customers along Canada’s east coast and elsewhere,” says Eric Griffin, Vice President Offshore and Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime.
“Regional and global market leaders establish their positions for good reason and, in a sector quickly realizing the benefits of always-on connectivity, we expect that others will be keen to learn how greater reliability and enhanced crew communications can be secured at truly competitive pricing.”
2021 Seafood Expo North America Cancelled
In light of ongoing public health concerns caused by the pandemic, Diversified Communications, organizer of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, has reluctantly determined it would be impossible to hold an event in Boston this July.
The 2021 edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, originally scheduled to take place March 14–16, had been postponed to July 11–13, 2021.
“We were determined to host an in-person event for our seafood community and have worked diligently over the past several months seeking a way to safely make the July 2021 edition happen,” said Liz Plizga, Group Vice President, Diversified Communications.
“However, current COVID restrictions limiting the capacity of indoor venues and the state of the reopening plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as related to convention facilities, have recently made it evident that we cannot move forward with planning an event like ours.”
The 2022 edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America will proceed as scheduled on March 13–15, 2022 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, MA.
Conversations with customers, including high-volume buyers in retail and foodservice, have confirmed they will be ready to meet in-person in 2022. Buyers have expressed the importance and unique value of meeting face to face in maintaining current relationships and finding new products and suppliers at the event.
“We recognize that business continuity is important to our seafood community, and until we meet again in-person in Boston, we will be reviewing opportunities to connect buyers and sellers digitally,” added Plizga.
Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global, the world’s largest seafood event, also produced by Diversified Communications, is scheduled to take place this year in Barcelona, Spain on September 7–9, 2021.
Cape Breton Seafood Processors Receive Federal Seafood Stabilization Funds
On March 31, Mike Kelloway, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso, announced total investments of $536,753 to two companies for three initiatives in Lower L’Ardoise and Louisbourg to help the region’s fish and seafood processing sector tackle challenges caused by the pandemic head-on and ensure its future viability.
The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and of the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Lobsters ‘R’ Us Seafood in Lower L’Ardoise is receiving a $450,000 repayable contribution to expand its facility, increase cold-water storage capacity and add ice-making equipment. The company is also receiving a $50,000 non-repayable contribution for facility upgrades to meet COVID-19 health and safety requirements.
A&L Seafoods Limited in Louisburg is receiving a non-repayable contribution of $36,753 to purchase personal protective equipment to meet COVID-19 requirements.
Maine Lobster Fishery 2020 Landed Value Exceeds $400 Million
Despite a pandemic and the unexpected market losses associated with it, Maine fishermen — specifically lobstermen — had a pretty good year.
According to the state’s Department of Marine Resources, Maine fishermen brought in $516,796,614 for their catch in 2020 — the ninth highest ex-vessel value on record. Maine’s lobster fishery accounted for most of that overall landed value at $405,983,832. This was only the seventh time in the history of the fishery that the landed value exceeded $400 million.
“Maine’s lobster industry faced tremendous uncertainty in 2020,” Maine DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement. “At this time last year, the industry was facing a pending market collapse due to COVID-19, but industry’s response was remarkable. Dealers developed new markets and harvesters adjusted effort based on market realities, all of which resulted in a good boat price during a year with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”
Maine lobstermen brought in 96 million pounds in 2020, which was an approximate five per cent drop from 2019’s landings. But despite the drop, the landed volume was still the ninth highest in the history of the fishery. The DMR reports that the boat price for 2020 was $4.20 per proud, “significantly better” than the $3.76 average boat price over the past 10 years.
“The Maine lobster industry continues to demonstrate an exceptional resiliency,” continued Commissioner Keliher. “I’m extremely proud of the commitment by harvesters and dealers to adapt to change and to sustain the value of this critically important industry.”
Contract Awarded for the Vessel Life Extension of CCG Ships Cape Roger and Cygnus
Following an open and competitive process, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard, recently awarded a $20.7-million contract to St. John’s Dockyard Limited (NewDock), St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to complete vessel life extension (VLE) work on the Canadian Coast Guard Ships (CCGS) Cape Roger and Cygnus.
These two ships perform offshore patrol missions in support of international fisheries surveillance and are available for search and rescue and environmental response operations on Canada’s east coast.
The VLE work will include regulatory inspections, installation of a new crane on each of the two vessels, hull blasting and coating, electrical replacement and refurbishments, overhauling of various components, and the replacement of piping, hull plating and deck steel.
This contract award falls under the repair, refit and maintenance pillar of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which is helping to ensure that Canada has a safe and effective fleet of ships to serve and protect Canadians for years to come, while providing ongoing opportunities for shipyards and suppliers across Canada. The contract will help create or sustain up to 40 jobs.
The CCGS Cape Roger and CCGS Cygnus are both stationed in St. John’s.
The VLE work will include two five-month work periods, commencing with the CCGS Cape Roger in May 2021, followed by the CCGS Cygnus in November 2021.
The CCGS Cape Roger is named for a cape on the western side of Placentia Bay on the island of Newfoundland. The ship was commissioned into the Canadian Coast Guard in August 1977.
The CCGS Cygnus is named after the constellation in the northern hemisphere, Cygnus, or the Swan, which is also sometimes called the Northern Cross. In Greek mythology, Cygnus is the son of Poseidon, god of the seas.