On the Waterfront — August 2019

N.L. Company Building OCI Vessel’s Production Line

Bay Bulls-based C & W Industrial Fabrication and Marine Limited has been sub-contracted to build and install the production line for Ocean Choice International’s (OCI) new groundfish vessel.

Last November, OCI announced the construction of a state-of-the-art, Arctic-class vessel that is expected to create approximately 70 new, full-time, year-round positions and enable the company to provide its workers at sea the safest possible marine working environment.

The production line equipment will enable OCI to process its key groundfish stocks at sea using innovative and clean technology to maximize yield and quality and deliver market-ready products. The energy efficiency components and technology being incorporated into the design and build of the production line and vessel are expected to lead to a clean class designation, or green ship, which will be a first for a Canadian groundfish vessel.

The Government of Canada is investing $3.5 million in this company through ACOA’s Business Development Program (BDP), while Ocean Choice is contributing $3.5 million towards the project.

The vessel was designed by Skipsteknisk in Norway and is being built by Tersan in Turkey, with a scheduled delivery date of December 2019.

Slight Increase to 2J3KLPs Capelin Management Plan

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently rolled out its management plan for the two capelin stocks in eastern and southern Newfoundland and Labrador — 2J3KL and 3Ps.

The total allowable catch (TAC) for 2J3KLPs capelin has been set at 22,796 tonnes for 2019, up from the 2018 TAC of 19,823 tonnes for 2018. The TAC will be allocated to the respective quota areas and fleets according to existing sharing arrangements.

On the west coast of the province, the 2018-19 TAC for 4RST capelin was set at 9,295 tonnes.

FISH-NL Calls for Elimination of Cod Quality Program

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling for the elimination of the cod quality program that directs hundreds of tonnes to the FFAW-Unifor — with the fish once again set aside for all harvesters to catch.

Further, FISH-NL says the number one action that can be taken to increase the price of cod is to grade fish when it lands at the wharf — not the plant.

“The FFAW’s cod quality program is a joke — the quality is there but the price is not,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.

“The program has been around for five years and the average price of cod has actually declined.”

Fisheries and Oceans has set the 2019 quota for the small-scale Northern cod stewardship fishery at 12,450 tonnes — a 30 per cent increase over last year’s 9,500 tonnes.

DFO confirmed the cod-quality project — which began in 2014 and is meant to improve the quality/price of cod landed — will go ahead again this year, although the amount of fish isn’t yet known. Roughly, 300 tonnes were set aside in 2018 and more than 400 tonnes the year before. The fish comes off the top of the overall quota.

Last year’s program involved 55 FFAW-selected harvesters fishing up to 6,000 pounds a month on top of their weekly limit. The program was allowed to continue even when the commercial fishery closed.

The FFAW has said the cod-quality program will “return premium prices to harvesters,” but the average landed price of cod last year was 63 cents a pound — one cent lower than 2017.

“The cod quality project serves no other purpose than to extract fish from fishermen and into the FFAW,” says Jason Sullivan, FISH-NL’s secretary-treasurer.

Keith Colwell

Province Announces Seafood Accelerator Program

Nova Scotia seafood companies will be able to improve current products, create new ones and look at new export markets through a new Seafood Accelerator Program.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell announced the new program on June 25, which represents an investment of $570,000 over two years.

The program will be managed by Perennia, Nova Scotia’s development agency supporting sustainability and competitiveness in the province’s agriculture and seafood sectors.

“Helping our producers bring their new and innovative ideas to life can make all the difference in creating growth and jobs in our rural communities,” said Mr. Colwell. “These investments will help industry find opportunities to bring new products to market and increase the value of our seafood industry.”

The Seafood Accelerator Program will be broken down into three areas:

  • Seafood Market Access Food Safety program: up to $15,000 to help seafood companies take the Global Food Safety Initiative certification to enter and expand in new export markets.
  • Technical Obstacles initiative: $55,000 per year to help companies produce samples, improve packaging, extend shelf life and address other barriers.
  • New Product Creator initiative: $55,000 per year to help companies develop new products and prototypes.

“Member companies of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance are highly dependent on the sale of our world class products to other countries and to other regions of Canada,” said Leo Muise, executive director, Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance. “This new initiative can help Nova Scotia seafood processors obtain additional value out of the resource.”

Nova Scotia remains Canada’s seafood export leader with more than $2 billion in exports — 29 per cent of Canada’s total seafood exports. The province’s seafood exports have more than doubled since 2012 when they stood at $922 million.

“More export markets are requiring seafood companies to have rigorous food safety programs and the demand for innovative seafood products continues to rise,” said Noel Despres, vice chair, Perennia board of directors.

“Through this program and with Perennia’s guidance, Nova Scotia seafood companies will become better innovators, better marketers and will continue to supply our top-rated seafood products.”

Is Sustainable Aquaculture Lost in Translation?

According to researchers from Dalhousie University, there is virtually no evidence to support decades-long narratives about the sustainability of finfish aquaculture in Canada.

The study, which was recently published in the journal Marine Policy, examined the progress Canada has made towards translating sustainable aquaculture policy goals into measurable outcomes. It describes 11 potential environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators identified by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in 2012 to advance the sustainable development of aquaculture in Canada.

“DFO reports on industry’s compliance with environmental regulations as an indicator of the sustainability of aquaculture,” says Inka Milewski, a research associate in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie and the lead author for the study.

“This approach assumes that current regulations are sufficient to cover the wide range of potential impacts fish farms can have on other species and the ecosystem, and that simply reporting the results of benthic monitoring, drug and pesticide use or dead fish are measures of environmental impacts or sustainability.”

In 2015, the new federal aquaculture activity regulations came into effect, which makes it mandatory for marine finish operators in Canada to report drug and pesticide use. In 2017, marine finfish farms reported using 14.4 mt of antibiotics and 439 mt of hydrogen peroxide pesticides.

According to Milewski, these numbers tell regulators and the public nothing about the potential sub-lethal, cumulative and far-field impacts of serial exposure to antibiotics and pesticides on non-target species.

The study also used the result of more than 10 years of research focused on a single fish farm in Port Mouton Bay, Nova Scotia, to examine how Canada’s national policy goals for sustainable aquaculture played out at the community level.

Ruth Smith, the study’s co-author and community research partner, notes that the Port Mouton case study demonstrates how Canada’s new aquaculture regulations fail to capture the lobster catch decreases, eelgrass loss, copper contamination and nutrient loading reported in studies done in Port Mouton Bay.

The case study also found that DFO’s social sustainability goal of generating meaningful employment in rural, remote and coastal communities has not occurred. Data from the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture shows that finfish production in Nova Scotia has increased 1,000 per cent between 1995 and 2017 but employs the same number of full-time people and there has been an 86 per cent drop in part-time employment.

“Sustainability indicators should provide the public with concrete measures of government accountability on policy narratives and goals,” says Milewski.

“In the absence of meaningful measures of sustainability, Canada’s declared aquaculture policy goals risk being reduced to mere political catchphrases.”

Marystown Marine Park Receives Financial Boost

The Town of Marystown is further developing its marine industrial park to support the region’s aquaculture industry and create new economic opportunities.

The project involves the development of seven existing industrial lots. Activities include blasting, grading, landscaping, excavating, backfilling, site engineering and project management.

The initiative will enable the town to further grow its aquaculture and industrial sectors, build community capacity and generate economic benefits for the area.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently announced it is contributing $355,500 towards this project and the Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), is providing a non-repayable contribution of $755,584.

Turning Waste into a Business Opportunity

Newfoundland-based Barry Group Inc. is establishing a new waste management operation using materials from its fish processing plant in Harbour Breton to create a new value-added product.

The company currently processes harvested farmed salmon for Mowi, which results in a significant amount of fish waste.

The Barry Group is planning to install new equipment to extract oil from the salmon waste generated during processing and sell it to global markets. The new operation will help respond to a need to address commercial fish waste.

The Government of Canada has announced it is providing a repayable contribution of $300,000 towards this project while Barry Group Inc. is investing the same amount.

Uncontrolled Seal Population Biggest Threat to Declining Gulf Cod Stock

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently announced the management plan for some groundfish species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including the total allowable catch (TAC) for 3Pn4RS cod. The TAC for cod has been set at 1,000 tonnes for a two-year period, which is a 68 per cent reduction from the previous season as a result of a declining biomass.

The FFAW-Unifor is calling on DFO to take action to control the overpopulation of seals as well as to better understand the significant impact seal predation is having on several important fish species around our province.

“For too long DFO has sat idle while evidence mounts that an overpopulation of seals is having a grave impact on important fish species in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout Atlantic Canada. DFO does not consider important information on species predation that could significantly impact the health of these stocks, and this lack of understanding and action is hurting fish harvesters and coastal communities,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

The recent assessment for Atlantic cod states natural mortality is increasing at an alarming rate — something that is likely attributable, in part, to grey seals.

The FFAW says that there are approximately 8 million seals in Atlantic Canada and each adult can consume approximately two tonnes of prey each year, up to half of which is cod. The amount harvested in the small cod fishery pales in comparison to the overwhelming volume potentially consumed as prey by seals.

“Science has admitted that reducing or even eliminating fishing entirely won’t change the fate of this stock unless something is done to address seals,” says harvester Loomis Way, who attended the Gulf Groundfish Advisory Meeting earlier this spring in Moncton.

“Recent information predicts the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence cod stock could be extinct in our lifetime as a result of grey seal predation, and we have reason to believe this same effect is happening to the cod stock further north in the gulf,” Sullivan warns.

“DFO has dragged their heels when it comes to conducting proper science on seals around our province, and action to control the seal population long overdue. The government must take immediate steps to protect our fish species.”

“For years, our organization has been calling on the federal government to step up and implement a real ecosystem management approach, including addressing excessive predation. Many species of groundfish will be unable to adequately recover without proper management of the seal population. The government has prioritized an overabundant seal population over the protection of rebounding fish stocks,” added Sullivan.

Call for Total Observer Coverage on Industrial Tuna Vessels

A group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on global tuna conservation announced that they are standing together to call on Regional Fishing Management Organizations (RFMOs) that regulate tuna fishing in the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic and Southern Oceans to require observer coverage on all industrial tuna fishing vessels.

These NGOs include: Birdlife International, Conservation International, The Earthworm Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defense Fund, FishWise, Greenpeace, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), Monterey Bay Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and World Wildlife Fund.

“In many tuna fisheries around the world, the lack of independent monitoring of fishing activity means there is much we cannot see — including many known conservation and compliance problems such as illegal fishing, misreported or unreported catch, and bycatch of endangered, threatened and protected species. What we can’t see creates risk to fish stocks, to fisheries and to companies that purchase tuna.

Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) have the power to reduce these risks by requiring 100 per cent observer coverage — human and/or electronic — on industrial tuna fishing vessels,” the groups said in a press release.

They said 100 per cent observer coverage provides the means to mitigate the conservation and compliance issues that put tuna stocks, ocean ecosystems and tuna supply chains at risk.

$1.6 million in Research Initiatives for St. Lawrence Estuary

The federal government recently announced it is investing almost $1.6 million in six marine environmental data collection projects in the St. Lawrence Estuary through the Coastal Environmental Baseline Program, part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan.

This investment is supporting five partner organizations collecting environmental baseline data.

The projects are aimed at painting a clearer picture of the status of the coastal ecosystems and environmental conditions in the St. Lawrence. The data collected from these initiatives regarding the impacts of activities like shipping traffic and the threat of climate change are essential to directing our efforts to protect coastal species and habitats into the future and to making our waters and coasts safer, cleaner and healthier.

The five project partners include Explos-Nature, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Comité Zone d’Intervention Prioritaire de la Rive Nord de l’Estuaire and Centre interdisciplinaire de développement en cartographie des océans.

The objective of the six projects is to characterize the conditions in the St. Lawrence based on a variety of research initiatives including:

  • a study of the physical and biological components of coastal wetlands
  • a light detection and ranging analysis of the seabed
  • an investigation of the abundance and distribution of molluscs and other benthic macrofauna
  • an assessment of coastal fish species through underwater video recordings
  • and an investigation of intertidal macroalgae (seaweed) through remote sensing technology.

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