On the Waterfront – December 2023

DFO Implements New Assessment Model for Northern Cod Stocks

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has announced a new model for assessing 2J3KL Northern cod stocks which evaluates long-term productivity from 1954 to the present using tagging and landing data.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), Newfoundland and Labrador’s fish harvester’s union, called this move towards a new model a “positive step for federal fisheries science.”

“We applaud the considerable work by the DFO science department to develop a new assessment model that considers productivity over the full time series,” said Erin Carruthers, senior fisheries scientist and science program lead at FFAW-Unifor.

“The longer time series shows that the stock can and has recovered from similar levels in the late 1970s, meaning that the revised LRP makes sense when you look at the longer time series.”

The N.L. provincial government stated that it was pleased to have played a part in developing the new assessment model.

“The outcomes from the model will provide us with a better understanding of the Northern cod population to make future management decisions. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to monitor developments and participate in ongoing fishery management meetings for the 2J3KL Northern cod stock. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has indicated that the next assessment will be in March 2024 and we are cautiously optimistic that it can be determined that the Northern cod will remain in the cautious zone and out of moratorium. The Federal Government has specified that decisions will be considered at that time using the best available science advice. Our government continues to work with the Government of Canada, as well as Indigenous partners, harvesters and other industry stakeholders. We are pleased with the excellent work of the experts in industry and the Federal and the Provincial Government, and we thank them for their dedication to improving the Northern cod stock for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradors.”



Marine Institute’s Ocean Mapping Program Receives International Recognition

The International Board on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers (IBSC) has awarded Newfoundland and Labrador’s Marine Institute Master of Applied Ocean Technology (Ocean Mapping) Program a prestigious “S-5 Category A” recognition, the highest the IBSC can award.

The program has become Canada’s first graduate-level hydrography program to receive this recognition, furthering the educational and employment prospects for Marine Institute graduates worldwide.

“I want to congratulate and thank our faculty and staff who led our IBSC submission,” said Dr. Paul Brett, vice president of Memorial University (Marine Institute). “It was an intense and detailed effort to submit our program for evaluation and I’m very proud of their accomplishment and their dedication to growing our ocean mapping programs.”



EIS Required for Stephenville Hatchery Expansion

Bernard Davis, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has advised Northern Harvest Sea Farms Ltd., a subsidiary of aquaculture giant Mowi, that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required to go ahead with the expansion of their Indian Head Hatchery in Stephenville, N.L.

In the EIS, the minister has requested to be informed of the potential effects of the project on the marine environment, including the effects on wild Atlantic salmon, collective effects on the marine environment in the project area and measures that the company will take to ease the aforementioned adverse environmental effects. The EIS will also require assurance of monitoring for aquaculture escapees in Bay Management Areas and methods for identifying and tracing farmed salmon.



FFAW Receives Federal Funding for Seal Research Initiative

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) has received funding as part of the federal government’s initiative to conduct several seal and sea lion research projects across Canada.

The union’s research centres around an online survey that seeks to recruit fish harvesters to document the distribution, local abundance and impact of seals in Newfoundland and Labrador waters.

“Fish harvesters’ on-the-water observations can and will contribute to an improved understanding of seal species’ distribution, behaviour and impacts to Newfoundland and Labrador marine environments,” said Dr. Erin Carruthers, the FFAW’s Senior Fisheries Scientist. “FFAW-Unifor is happy to launch our project that aims to document harvesters’ current on-the-water observations but will also, importantly, document harvesters’ knowledge of changing seal distributions and abundance over their fishing careers.”



Canada and Greenland Unite to Conserve the North Water Polynya

Diane Lebouthiller, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, alongside her Greenlandic counterpart Kalistat Lund, the Minister of Agriculture, Self-Sufficiency, Energy and Environment, signed a letter of intent for the two countries to work on conservation efforts for the Pikialasorsuaq or North Water Polynya.

The North Water Polynya is an area in the Arctic Circle that remains ice-free throughout the year and holds the distinction of being one of the most biologically productive areas in the region. The area, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, holds great significance to surrounding Inuit communities as a vital habitat for the migratory species on which these people depend.

“The responsible management of the Pikialasorsuaq is crucial to the health of the species who inhabit it, but also to the health and well-being of the Inuit communities that this polynya supports directly,” said Lebouthillier. “I am proud to sign this Letter of Intent, alongside counterparts in Greenland and in the presence of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. This is a milestone for closer collaboration with our international partners and Inuit communities and is an important step towards ensuring this critical body of water remains healthy and supports the needs of Inuit for years to come.”



NCCOS Announces $6.7 Million Funding for Sea Level Rise and Coastal Resilience Research

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) announced $6.7 million in funding for the fiscal year of 2023 to enable 18 “coastal resilience” research projects in the United States.

These projects will help create adaption planning and coastal management decisions to account for sea level rise and climate change, including nature-based solutions to help coastal communities “prepare for, adapt and build resilience to changing climate conditions.”

“NOAA is a leader in providing timely and actionable data and information on sea level rise impacts along our coasts,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “This funding will help communities move from understanding the risks associated with sea level rise to taking appropriate actions to protect their citizens, infrastructure and natural resources.”



Membertou First Nation to Build All-Electric Lobster Vessel

Membertou First Nation has signed a memorandum of understanding to begin Lektrike’l Walipotl — a project to construct Canada’s first electric lobster fishing vessel.

The project, in partnership with Oceans North, Allswater and Bluegrid, comes on the heels of a report by Oceans North that identified the Nova Scotia lobster fleet as a prime candidate for full electrification.

“An electric lobster vessel is the natural next step in our drive towards becoming leaders in the production and use of renewable electricity,” said Terry Paul, Chief and CEO of Membertou.

“We see the adoption of battery-electric technology in the lobster fishery as an important step in developing a sustainable fishery that will provide benefits for future generations. This first vessel will show fishers what’s possible and improve the work environment onboard by eliminating diesel pollution and reducing noise.”

The project team is currently in the data collection phase in order to properly size the electric propulsion system to meet the vessel’s energy demands. Boat building is expected to begin in mid-2024, with a goal of having the vessel built and tested by 2025.

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