On the Waterfront – August 2020

N.L. Capelin Price Up 20 Per Cent

In mid-June, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel sided with harvesters and increased the 2020 price of capelin by 20 per cent over 2019 prices.

Fishermen will now receive $0.42/pound for Grade A capelin. Last year they received $0.35/pound.

The FFAW, which negotiated on behalf of the harvesters, stated that over the past two years, capelin collective bargaining has increased prices by 68 per cent over 2018 levels.

The Association of Seafood Producers (ASP), which represented processors at the arbitration hearing, had offered an increase of seven per cent over 2019 prices.

At the hearing, both parties acknowledged the unprecedented global supply shortfall and that Newfoundland capelin is well positioned in the marketplace. The Icelandic and Norwegian capelin exports originate from two large fisheries, one prosecuted on the Icelandic stock and another on the Barents Sea stock.

As was detailed in last year’s Panel decision, over the 10-year period of 2008 to 2018, the average annual landings by Iceland was 230,000 tonnes and by Norway, 180,000 tonnes. This resulted in combined average landings from these two countries of over 400,000 tonnes annually. The highest year in the 10-year time series was 850,000 tonnes in 2012. The lowest year was at 160,000 tonnes in 2014. These fisheries are now closed. Over the same period, the average annual Canadian landings from Newfoundland and Gulf stocks was only 31,000 tonnes.

Wild Atlantic Salmon Returns Near Historic Low in 2019

The Atlantic Salmon Federation’s (ASF) annual State of Wild Atlantic Salmon Report, released in June, shows last year’s adult salmon returns to North America were among the lowest in a 49-year data series, continuing a downward trend that threatens the sustainability of the species.

In recent decades, the human harvest of wild Atlantic salmon has been significantly reduced through a series of conservation measures, helping to stabilize some populations, but recovery has been inhibited, the group stated in a press release.

“Wild Atlantic salmon are struggling to adapt to warming rivers, changing oceans, and pressure from human development that continues to alter waterways and landscapes,” said Bill Taylor, ASF President. “It will take provincial and federal governments working side-by-side with First Nations organizations, watershed groups and NGOs on priority projects to make a change.”

Throughout North America, freshwater habitat has been degraded by dams, industrial forestry, large-scale agriculture and invasive species, making rivers less resilient to climate change.

In bays and estuaries where open net pen salmon aquaculture is present, young salmon are exposed to intense concentrations of sea-lice and infectious agents and by-catch in commercial fisheries persists and surging predator populations are wreaking havoc on vulnerable species, the ASF stated.

“The combined effect is that fewer juvenile salmon or parr are living to become smolt and fewer smolt are making it successfully to their ocean feeding grounds,” said Taylor. “ASF and its partners in Greenland and Iceland have agreed to reduce harvests at sea. Our collaborative marine tracking program has revealed migration timing and routes which will inform conservation action. However, at home in Canada and the United States there remains much to be done, especially in freshwater.”

The State of Wild Atlantic Salmon Report documents troubling features like persistent and severe declines in North American grilse, which are adult salmon that have spent a single winter at sea and critically low large salmon returns to many rivers in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

“People have continuously been asked to give up rights and privileges in the name of conservation, but those sacrifices have not been matched by meaningful action from governments. It’s time for governments to coordinate with each other, follow through on commitments, and make decisions on tough issues. In turn, government leaders will find broad support, help and advice from people who care about wild salmon and wild rivers,” said Taylor.

The busy show floor at the 2019 Seafood Expo North America.

2020 Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America Cancelled

Diversified Communications, organizer of the annual Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, announced that due to ongoing health and safety issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become necessary to cancel the 2020 edition of the expo that was re-scheduled to take place on September 22–24, 2020 in Boston, MA.

“It is with great disappointment that we have to bring the news to our seafood community that we will not be able to meet in person in 2020,” said Liz Plizga, group vice president, Diversified Communications.

Despite some re-opening measures nationally and locally, there are still far too many uncertainties about the impact COVID-19 will have on travel and mass gatherings this September. Accordingly, it is impossible to hold an event that would provide an experience the seafood community would find valuable.

The Seafood Expo North America team will reach out to customers to answer questions about the cancellation of the 2020 edition and discuss opportunities to continue to build business and reconnect with seafood buying communities going forward and for the 2021 edition.

The 2021 edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, which will take place March 14–16 in Boston, is already off to a strong start with an 82 per cent renewal rate proving the value of the event for the seafood industry.

Vessel Collision Led to First U.S. Right Whale Death of 2020

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries released its preliminary findings of the necropsy performed on a North Atlantic right whale calf which was spotted floating off the coast of New Jersey in late June.

The necropsy revealed evidence of at least a pair of vessel collisions. The first wounds indicated a collision that happened several weeks before the whale’s death. However, a more recent vessel collision was found to be the likely cause of death as it happened shortly before the calf died.

According to NOAA, the whale had several propeller wounds across its head and chest and a likely skeg or rudder injury on its back that may have occurred at the same time. These wounds were weeks old.

The more recent wounds from the second collision created propeller wounds and a skeg or rudder wound across the tail stock.

“The loss of every right whale is a detriment to this critically endangered species, but it is particularly hard when we lose a calf, given how few have been born in the last several years,” said Kim Damon-Randall, Deputy Regional Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Region. “The effort to secure this calf in order to determine the cause of death was herculean with many twists and turns.”

The death marks the first right whale death in U.S. waters this year.

NOAA said it is looking at the issue of right whales and vessel strikes from multiple angles. It announced it recently completed an assessment of a right whale vessel speed rule and a report will be released soon detailing the effectiveness, economic impacts, navigational safety and compliance with the rule.

NOAA also highlighted exploring the use of acoustic information to alert vessels when right whales are in the area as well as the Whale Alert app, which provides real-time alerts to vessel operators about the presence of right whales.

Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund Reopened

In mid-June, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, together with participating provinces and territories, re-opened the Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund (CFSOF) to support the industry in accessing new consumer markets.

Launched in 2018, the CFSOF is a national cost-sharing federal, provincial and territorial program that helps the fish and seafood sector address new market-access issues and identify branding opportunities, in order to maximize the value of Canada’s world-class fish and seafood.

“To reflect the needs of our partners, applicants will now have the chance to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the CFSOF at any time, making the program more nimble and adaptable to changing circumstances brought on by COVID-19. Eligible applicants who meet the principles, criteria and objectives of the program will then be invited to submit a full proposal following the EOI stage. We continue to work with our provincial and territorial funding partners, Indigenous partners and stakeholders, to help guide investment priorities and identify opportunities and potential partnerships under CFSOF. Through this collaboration, we will leverage and promote Canada’s brand and reputation for producing high quality, legally and sustainably-sourced fish and seafood products to both domestic and international consumers,” DFO said in a press release.

“Together with our provincial and territorial partners, we are pleased to support the fish and seafood sector with over $42 million in non-repayable support through the Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund.”

CFSOF is a cost-shared program (70 per cent federal and 30 per cent provincial) and will fund eligible activities supported by participating provinces and territories (B.C., SK, N.T., YK, ON, N.B., P.E.I., N.S. and N.L.).

Two Applicants Shortlisted to Supply Marine Atlantic’s New Vessel

Marine Atlantic recently announced that two companies, Stena North Sea Ltd. and Rederi AB Gotland, have been shortlisted to move to the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage for the procurement of a new vessel for the Corporation’s fleet.

In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada provided funding for Marine Atlantic to procure a new vessel. As part of the open and fair process, the Corporation launched a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in July 2019. This process was open to domestic and international bidders with four firms providing pre-qualification submissions by the November 13, 2019, deadline.

Both Stena North Sea Ltd. and Rederi AB Gotland were successful in meeting the requirements to proceed to the RFP stage. The entire process is being overseen by a fairness monitor, an independent consultant that acts as an objective, third party observer who monitors the procurement process to ensure that it is conducted in a fair manner consistent with the process set out in the RFQ and RFP.

The new vessel will be a ro-pax design with the ability to carry commercial freight and offer passenger amenities. More details about the vessel particulars such as size, design features and technical specifications will be presented once a contract has been entered into with the successful proponent. The new vessel is expected to enter service in fiscal year 2023–2024.

2020 Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition Cancelled

Mercator Media Ltd. has confirmed that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 13th edition of the Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition (Icefish) will now be held September 15-17, 2021.

Marianne Rasmussen-Coulling, events director for Mercator Media Ltd, explained the decision, “Given the global restrictions on travel and the effects that social distancing requirements will have on the operation of the exhibition, the team at Mercator Media has been examining alternatives and seeking the opinion of exhibitors. There is also the added uncertainty surrounding further possible government actions and restrictions, both in Iceland and abroad. We would all prefer that this was not the case, but in the circumstances, we believe rescheduling to 2021 is now the best option for exhibitors and visitors.”

“Icefish is a face-to-face exhibition where people meet to discuss new ideas and solutions for their commercial fishing, processing, seafood and value-added businesses and activities. Meeting up with client networks and making new ones is a key reason to attend. For the rest of 2020, it is evident that exhibitors and visitors may be less willing to attend, currently have serious concerns about travel and may feel that their safety could be compromised. While many of our clients depend on Icefish for their business, we are very conscious of the resource and time commitment that is involved and do not wish to produce a less than satisfactory compromise.”

Marianne concluded, “Exhibitors, delegates and visitors return to Icefish again and again, and we are conscious that there will be real disappointment at people not being able to exhibit and attend in 2020. Everyone on the Icefish team is sorry not to be able to be meeting up with exhibitors and visitors in person at Icefish this year. We regret that we have had to make this decision but believe that this course of action is the best alternative in the face of the effects of COVID-19. We look forward to 2021.”

Funding for N.L. Shrimp Processing Technology

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, recently announced $126,475 through the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation to Martak Canada, in support of its latest shrimp peeling technology, the Pro Peeler.

The company is also receiving advisory services and up to $168,796 in research and development funding through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) towards the project.

The Pro Peeler is an innovative product that will improve Martak Canada’s current shrimp peeler machine, making it more efficient and capable of producing higher product yields. This next generation product will combine automation, quality control and real-time monitoring with an advanced machine vision system. This support brings the Pro Peeler another step closer to commercialization.

In 2018, the provincial government provided the company with $173,392 in R and D support, in addition to contributions from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and NRC IRAP.

Martak is a provincial company focused on providing quality products and services to the global shrimp processing industry. Based in Paradise, the company’s product portfolio covers the entire shrimp production process, from raw material handling to consumer packaging.

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