On the Waterfront – December 2021

Body of Sipekne’katik First Nation Fisherman Recovered

The Sipekne’katik First Nation is mourning the loss of one of its fishing vessel captains.

According to Coast Guard officials, the 54-year-old captain was at the wheel of the fishing vessel Miss Janet on October 14 as it travelled from Shelburne to Saulnierville, but when one of the three crew awoke at 3:30 a.m., he was no longer there.

The weather was reported to be fairly calm at the time of the incident and the crew hadn’t indicated any mechanical difficulties.

The crew immediately radioed for help to advise search and rescue officials of the man overboard incident. Search and rescue assets were tasked as a search was launched. The search had been complicated by the fact that it was not known when or where the man had gone missing.

The man’s identity has not been released at the request of his family.

The search, which began Thursday, Oct. 14 and extended into Friday, Oct. 15, saw a total area of approximately 2,000 square nautical miles searched.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre later reported that at around 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, search and rescue personnel were able to locate the missing captain of the Miss Janet. He said he was found about 10 nautical miles west of Yarmouth.

“Searchers had found personal effects floating on the water, which enabled them to eventually find him,” the rescue centre said in a tweet on Twitter.

“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the families, friends and community,” the JRCC said. “His remains will now be transported ashore, transferred to the RCMP and returned to his family.”

Involved in the search were several Coast Guard vessels, including the Sir William Alexander, the Clarks Harbour and the Corporal Teather — the latter of which had escorted the vessel and remaining crew into port in Yarmouth on Thursday. Other search assets included a CH149 Cormorant, a CH130 Hercules, a PAL aircraft and fast rescue crafts.

Commercial fishing vessels that are part of the Auxiliary Coast Guard — such as the Nautical Nixon, Kaitlyn Grace and Jacob’s Journey — were asked tasked to assist in the search.

Other commercial vessels and Sipekne’katik vessels joined in the search as well.

The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia also issued a statement of condolences. It said it was working with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia to have grief counselling services made available for the crew, the family and friends of the captain and Sipekne’katik First Nation community members.


DFO License Renewal Notice to Fish Harvesters

All commercial fish harvesters are reminded to review their 2021 licenses in the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) at https://fishing-peche.dfo-mpo.gc.ca as soon as possible to confirm that they have renewed all of their 2021 commercial licenses and/or 2021 vessel registration(s).

In order to retain the privilege to be issued the licenses in the following year, commercial harvesters must renew both their commercial fishing licenses and vessel registrations on an annual basis, whether or not the harvester actively fished or used the vessel for harvesting in that year.

Also, all 2021 individual quota (IQ) fees must be paid, with the exception of commercial cod IQ fees. Commercial cod IQ fees are not required to be paid if the license holder had no directed or incidental landings of cod; however, the groundfish license fee must still be paid each year.

Harvesters who have not yet renewed their licenses for 2021 are reminded that they must complete their license renewals before midnight, Thursday, December 30, 2021. It is very important to be aware that any licenses and registrations that are not renewed before this date will not be available in the following year — these licences will be cancelled.

As well, DFO advises fish harvesters based in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region that the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) will not be available for renewal of 2021 fishing licenses after midnight Thursday, December 30. This is to allow for year-end data updating processes and system maintenance.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) launched the National Online Licensing System in the spring of 2013 for fish harvesters to complete routine licensing transactions using a computer with internet access. This includes: renewing licenses and vessel registrations; paying the associated fees and printing licenses, license conditions, payment receipts, and other licensing documents.

For more information about the NOLS system, visit www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/sdc-cps/licence-permis-eng.htm or call 1-877-535-7307 if you need assistance.


Mowi Transfers More Than Five Million Smolts

After 10 weeks of planning and 13 weeks of shipping involving 17 separate voyages by wellboat, Mowi reported that 5,772,109 smolts have been successfully transferred to its sea sites across Canada East.

“To stock our sea farms in New Brunswick, Newfoundland Bays East and Newfoundland Bays West, the freshwater and saltwater teams have to work extremely closely as everything is geared around the smoltification process and making sure that the transfer happens at the optimum time in the salmon’s lifecycle,” the company explained in a press release.

Sheldon McKinley, Freshwater Supply Chain and Logistics Manager, explained the process and why he believes it ran like clockwork this year.

“For smolt transfer, everything works back from what I call the sweet spot of the smoltification process. Biology is king in this process, so it is really important to stick to the schedule. Planning is year-round really, beginning with vaccinations and grading in preparation for shipment. Ultimately identifying the perfect entry date for each hatchery just prior to smolt season. From there it takes preparation to maintain the logistics schedule so we can take advantage and remain in that sweet spot. It is all about communication so approximately 10 weeks in advance of the first ponding, we begin weekly smolt calls to ensure everything is on track — to ensure the sea sites are ready, vessels are ready, that we have the relevant permits in place, etc. Then it takes around 13 weeks of shipping from the very first boatload to the last, until the job is done.”

In total, smolt transfers can involve a team of over 20 people because it brings together freshwater, seawater, environmental, fish health and logistics teams.

After the 2021 smolt transfer, Sheldon believed they are getting better with each year.

“This is our third year of ponding in Canada East and a significant increase in the volume of smolts transferred versus 2020 (over one million). Everybody was calm and there was nothing we couldn’t work through together. Good equipment reducing stress during handling and communication is key. There is lots of correspondence using Outlook, Teams and mobile phones, with nobody missed out. Ultimately, every member of this project team is an expert in their field and good at what they do and that makes all the difference.”


Bering Sea Snow Crab Harvest Cut by Nearly 90 Per Cent

In October, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) announced the 2021–22 Bering Sea snow crab fishery total allowable catch (TAC), with the total dropping 88 per cent from the last fishing season.

In all, the TAC for snow crab in the Bering Sea is 5.6 million pounds, down from 45 million pounds allocated in the previous season.

In September, summer survey results found mature male snow crab in the Bering Sea plummeted by 55 per cent.

The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC) said the significant drop in snow crab catch and the complete closure of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery could cost harvesters well over $100 million. The hit will be felt by roughly 70 vessels, over 400 fishermen, and the processors and fishing communities that rely on the Bering Sea crab revenue.


Changes for Inmarsat Vessel Monitoring System units

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is advising Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters of changes that came into effect on November 1, 2021 for Inmarsat (formally Stratos) Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units.

All former Stratos VMS units currently in DFO’s National VMS program must have the destination address for the DNID service updated by their Communication Service Provider company to ensure the unit will continue to report positions to DFO as of November 1, 2021.

Fish harvesters currently using one of these units to meet DFO VMS regulatory requirements are required to contact their Communication Service Provider company to request the necessary change.

Inmarsat customers must contact globalcustomersupport@inmarsat.com, referencing case number CS0687913, to provide their nine-digit Inmarsat Mobile Number (IMN) and request the update to the DNID service destination address.

Starting November 1, Inmarsat units that are not upgraded will no longer meet the licence condition requirement for monitoring by a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).


Maine Lobstering Union Lands Injunction to Halt Right Whale Lobster Fishing Area Closure

The Maine Lobstering Union (MLU) was granted emergency relief by U.S. District Judge Lance E. Walker on October 16 to halt an impending closure of a lobster fishing area off Maine, reported Urner Barry.

The closure was set to be implemented as part of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)’s Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Modifications announced at the end of August.

After learning of the closure, the MLU, along with other industry groups including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), sued the NMFS over the right-whale related rule changes.

According to the MLU, the closure would have impacted a large area of prime lobstering territory.

“This victory by the Maine Lobstering Union is a significant step in protecting one of Maine’s most precious industries — lobstering,” said Alfred Frawley, the attorney who represented the Maine Lobstering Union in the case. “The regulations proposed by federal agencies would have had a chilling impact on communities throughout Maine. We will continue to push for science and data that reflect what is truly happening in our industry.”

The opinion from Walker read, “Plaintiffs’ concerns about the economic effects of the regulation on themselves and other Maine fishermen, are sufficiently likely and substantial to support preliminary injunctive relief.”

“Without trivializing the precarity or significance of the right whale as a species, I find that the certain economic harms that would result from allowing this closure to go into effect outweigh the uncertain and unknown benefits of closing some of the richest fishing ground in Maine for three months based on a prediction that it might be a hotspot for right whale entanglement,” Walker continued.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maine. Alongside the MLU are plaintiffs Fox Island Lobster Company of Vinalhaven and Frank Thompson, a sixth-generation fisherman, who together with his wife Jean, own and operate Fox Island and the Damon Family Lobster Company of Stonington.

Just prior to the opinion, the MLA filed an amicus brief in court that opposed the closing of Maine lobster fishing grounds. The brief was filed in support of a motion set forth by the MLU.

“This closure will do nothing to protect right whales, but it will cause unnecessary financial harm to Maine lobstermen, their families, and the economy of Maine,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the MLA. “The MLA remains committed to doing our part to recover right whales, but this closure is essentially useless even as a small step toward recovery for the species.”

In the brief, the MLA noted that there has never been an observed instance of a North Atlantic right whale in the closure area. Despite this, the MLA argued that lobstermen that fish in the area will still suffer “significant, immediate financial harm if the closure is allowed to go into effect.”

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