On the Waterfront – February 2023

Greg Pretty Elected as New FFAW President

Greg Pretty

Long-time staffer of the Fisheries, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor), Greg Pretty, was elected president by the union’s executive council in a 43-11 vote after the recent departure of previous president, Keith Sullivan.

The presidential race was between Pretty and west coast fisherman Dave Callahan. Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) president Jason Sullivan’s bid for leadership was earlier rejected by the union.

In his acceptance speech, Pretty said he will bring “experience and gumption” to his new role. He indicated that the FFAW will be in talks with the provincial government soon under his leadership.

“We’re going to be talking to politicians. We’re going to be talking to the premier, because I feel like the premier might have an inkling of what needs to be done in this industry… We’re also going to hold the fed’s feet to the fire on seals,” said Pretty.

In talking to the media, Pretty indicated that failing diplomatic means, the FFAW would have to “take the issues to the street.”

According to a FFAW-Unifor news release, Pretty brings nearly 40 years of experience in labour management and organizing, having started his career with the union in the early 1980s under Richard Cashin.

Since 2003, Pretty has served as the Director of the Industrial/Retail/Offshore Sector. He has negotiated over 100 collective agreements over his career and has extensive experience with both the inshore and industrial/retail/offshore sectors of the FFAW.



Clark’s Harbour Crew Safe After Lobster Boat Sinks

The Atlantic claimed one fishing vessel during the opening month of the lobster fishery in Southwestern Nova Scotia.

On Dec. 15 at about 8:23 a.m., the crew of the Kobe & Brothers out of Clark’s Harbour issued a mayday that the vessel was taking on water. The fishing boat was about eight nautical miles southwest of Cape Sable Island. A Canadian Coast Guard cutter was dispatched to the scene by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax.

A nearby fishing vessel was first on the scene, safely getting the four-person Kobe & Brothers crew on board and back to port.



N.S. Fisherman Lost Overboard

A southwestern Nova Scotia lobster fisherman was lost overboard on Dec. 26, 2022.

Christian Lee Atwood, 27, was lost over-aft of the MV Little Weasel II while lobstering in the Outer Island and Green Island areas off Cape Sable Island in the early morning.

The Canadian Coast Guard cutter Clark’s Harbour was on-scene shortly after the call went out and was joined by multiple fishing boats in the search for Atwood. The Halifax Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) also tasked the CCG Cape Roger and air support.

By end of day, the rescue became a recovery effort and by noon the next day, the recovery effort was turned over to the RCMP as a missing persons investigation. The incident is being treated as an industrial accident.



Federal Government Extending EI Sickness Benefits

The government of Canada recently announced that it will be extending employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits for Canadians dealing with illness or injury from 15 weeks to 26 weeks.

Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion announced this change would come into effect as of December 18, 2022.

These changes, according to the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) are long overdue.

“FFAW-Unifor has been pushing for these increased benefits in national and provincial lobby efforts as our members, especially those in the seasonal workforce who become ill during production season, can face a complete loss of benefits or significant reduction,” said outgoing FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

Qualifying individuals who establish an EI claim on or after December 18 will be able to receive up to 26 weeks of coverage, valued at 55 per cent of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum of $638 in 2022.



Groups Sign MOU for Zero-Emission Lobster Vessel

Oceans North, a charitable organization that funds marine conservation and climate efforts in the Arctic and Atlantic regions of Canada, has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia to develop a zero-emission lobster vessel.

“Membertou is incredibly proud to be working with Oceans North to explore opportunities in the electrification of our commercial fishing vessels,” said Chief Terry Paul.

“As traditional and modern stewards of the land, the Mi’kmaq have great interest in being leaders of a cleaner, greener society. This project marks a step forward and addresses the urgency necessary to meet our climate change goals. We intend to be part of the solution now, for a better tomorrow.”

The initiative is also supported by Google Canada and the RBC Foundation.

According to Ocean North, this zero-emission vessel is a step toward highlighting the opportunity for Nova Scotia’s inshore fleet to switch over to zero-emission propulsion systems. 70 per cent of the inshore fleet travels within 20 kilometres from the shore, which they claim is an ideal use for electric systems. Converting the fleet to zero-emission propulsion could reduce its carbon footprint by 82 million tonnes — equal to 20,000 cars.



New Marine Training Program Announced

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, a marine industry organization funded by the Canadian government, announced a $5-million adaptive learning technology project entitled, The Future of Marine Fatigue Risk Mitigation.

The funding is in partnership with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as industry partners of the supercluster.

The project will be led by Training Works, a Newfoundland and Labrador-based educational technology company. The project seeks to create a tool for fatigue risk mitigation in marine industries that aims to have industry members “recognize, understand and anticipate fatigue while providing moment of need microlearning to help mitigate the risk associated with fatigue.” Microlearning is a method of teaching that is delivered in short learning units.

Training Works will deliver this tool through Skilltinuous, a technology that will use biometric and environmental data to recognize fatigue and provide immediate corrective action.

“Supporting innovative companies such as Training Works helps to grow and diversify Newfoundland and Labrador’s tech ecosystem while advancing our innovation economy,” said Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology.

“The leading-edge technology created through this project will help to improve worker safety and productivity. We support collaboration, research and development and commercialization of new digital ocean technologies that further position our province as a world leader in this sector.”



FCC Rolls Out New Training Curriculum

Future Leaders Canada, a fisheries-specific professional development course hosted by the Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) is back with a new curriculum for 2023.

Participants in the programs will travel to Ottawa, Chicago and St. John’s for three separate three-day sessions that seek to educate on all aspects of the North American seafood industry. The program will include lessons on government relations and regulations, processing plant tours, vessel tours, culinary lessons and logistic presentations.

“These sessions are designed to provide context to the everyday roles of fish and seafood industry professionals to create a well-rounded understanding of the various facets of the supply chain,” said Paul Lansbergen, President of the Fisheries Council of Canada. “The goal: create a generation of Future Leaders that will continue to elevate our industry.”

The program accepts individuals working in the seafood industry in both wild-capture and aquaculture. Tuition for the course is $4,120 for FCC members and $6,120 for non-FCC members. Applicants have until January 27, 2023, to register online at www.fisheriescouncil.ca/learn/future-leaders-canada.



Aquaculture Companies Make Sustainability List

The Coller Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative has released a new food sustainability ranking in its Protein Producer Index, an assessment model for meat, dairy and farmed fish producers worldwide.

In it, multi-national aquaculture giants Mowi and Grieg were ranked the first and second most sustainable protein producers worldwide. In Atlantic Canada, Mowi operates in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, while Grieg has a facility in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Our farmers work hard every day in all kinds of weather to provide our customers with healthy and tasty salmon, so it’s very rewarding to have a respected third-party validate our employee’s efforts,” said Gideon Pringle, managing director of Mowi Canada East.

“The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index supports the well-established science that shows seafood is an inherently smart food for consumers, and salmon, in particular, is a great choice for families seeking a healthy, tasty and sustainable meal.”



Warming Trends Continue

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), earth had its fourth warmest October on record in 2022.

The northern hemisphere saw its second warmest October, with Europe experiencing its single-hottest since records began 143 years ago.

The average global temperature was 0.89 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th-century average of 14 degrees, ranking behind 2015, 2019 and 2018 in first, second and third place.

This past October marks 46 in a row over the 20th century average and 454 months in a row above the same average.



Canada Attends ICCAT Meetings

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met in Vale do Lobo, Portugal in November 2022.

A delegation from Canada comprised of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Global Affairs Canada, stakeholders and Indigenous groups were in attendance.

The Canadian delegation played a role in many resolutions during the commission. Among many other resolutions, Canada played a leading role in the development and adoption of a new management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna that will set sustainable total allowable catches (TAC), kept the TAC for North Atlantic swordfish at 13,200 tonnes and co-sponsored a proposal by the European Union to strengthen existing rules against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“I am really proud of the role Canada played at this year’s meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna,” said Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“Canada advocated our position strongly and took an international collaboration and science-based approach to ensure the sustainability of tuna species for years to come.”



Call to Reverse Mackerel Moratorium

With many fish harvesters noting an increased abundance of Atlantic mackerel in the waters around Newfoundland and Labrador, Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to reverse its mackerel moratorium and establish a quota equal to the United States.

DFO Minister Joyce Murray ordered the moratorium in March of 2022, while harvesters south of the border were working with a 4,963-tonne quota. In 2023, the U.S. quota for mackerel is set at 3,629 tonnes.

“DFO’s decision earlier this year to slap a moratorium on the Atlantic mackerel fishery while American fishermen continued to fish the same stock — combined with relatively weak science, and then even less data without fishermen on the water — was wrong from the get-go,” said Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s executive director.



DFO Graduates New Fisheries Officers

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently welcomed 16 new fisheries officers to its ranks.

Fisheries officers are peace officers specializing in the conservation of freshwater and marine fisheries.

The graduates went through a 19-week training period that included both classroom and practical training at the Atlantic Police Academy in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. This is the first class to graduate from the Atlantic Police Academy.

Post-graduation, the graduates are set to start 30 months of practical training in DFO field offices across Canada, giving them experience on all three coasts as well as with inland waters.



Grand Bank Finally Rid of Derelict Vessel

After being hit by a rogue wave in 2006, the Atlantic Pursuit was tied up at the dock in Grand Bank, N.L. for 16 years.

On December 11, the former clam trawler was towed out of the harbour, enroute to Sydney, N.S. to be dismantled for materials.

The trawler was owned by Clearwater Seafood when it was put out of service in 2006 and has changed owners many times with the goal of getting it back in service. After many deals fell through, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) stepped in to remove and dismantle the Atlantic Pursuit under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act. DFO covered the cost of the vessel’s removal from the harbour.



N.L. Launches New Innovation Centre

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the government of Canada recently announced $9.6 million in funding for an Innovation Centre for remote operations in St. John’s.

The provincial government will provide $7.1 million over six years for the project and the federal government will provide $2.5 million over three years.

The centre is led by TechNL in partnership with EnergyNL, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and Energy Research and Innovation Newfoundland and Labrador. The space will feature a mix of warehouse space for light industrial work, office and hot desk space as well as event space for programming. It seeks to aid existing companies in the province in the technology, energy, healthcare, mining, ocean, aquaculture and fisheries sectors. The Innovation Centre will also support new companies seeking to provide remote operations.

“Our vision is to create a world-class ecosystem for remote operations,” said Florian Villaumé, CEO of TechNL.

“This funding will establish a collaborative innovation space built to address the technology development needs of established and growing companies through proximity to other innovators, collaboration, programming, access to special technology assets and visibility. It will attract companies, partners and investment from outside the province to our ecosystem and contribute to our vision to make the local technology sector the most sought-after technology sector in Canada.”

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