On the Waterfront – January 2020

Bill Introduced to Modernize N.B. Aquaculture Act

The New Brunswick government has introduced a new Aquaculture Act to replace the current legislation.

“As part of our efforts to energize the private sector, our government is modernizing the Aquaculture Act to better support growth and attract further investment in this sector,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister, Ross Wetmore.

“The new act will strengthen environmental protection, improve fish health and welfare and allow us to expand public reporting.”

The new act better aligns with legislation from the Atlantic provinces, which would result in a reduction of the regulatory burden for companies operating in the sector. It would also establish an outcome-based regime to improve licensing and leasing predictability for operators.

“New Brunswick is the heart of salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada, where the industry has been operating for more than 40 years,” said Susan Farquharson, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.

“Aquaculture is one of New Brunswick’s most promising sectors, and we look forward to working with the province on the regulations to support this new legislative framework and a finfish development strategy that supports this sector’s sustainable growth.”

The bill proposes the designation of a chief veterinarian officer position, as well as clear requirements related to reporting the presence or suspicion of diseases, disease agents, pests, invasive species, contaminants and mortality events.

“Modernizing the Aquaculture Act was identified in the throne speech as one of the government’s priorities to better support and further energize the private sector in New Brunswick,” said Serge LeBlanc, president of the Shellfish Association of New Brunswick. “The oyster farming industry is an important source of jobs and economic activity in rural and coastal communities on New Brunswick’s East coast.”

The new act would also allow the government to be more effective when it comes to managing interactions between aquaculture operations and the environment by providing the ability to define containment standards and strengthening the obligation to restore a site.

“We have had early discussions with various stakeholders and so far, the feedback has been positive,” said Wetmore. “I look forward to having more in-depth discussions with all stakeholder groups, including First Nations, as we move into the regulatory development phase.”

The bill also includes the creation of an online registry to provide further opportunities to engage the public and provide more data on aquaculture operations and the effectiveness of regulations.

Competition Bureau Closes Collusion Investigation

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) said it is disappointed to learn that the federal Competition Bureau has closed its investigation into recent allegations of collusion involving fish processing companies.

“Officials with the Competition Bureau say the people they interviewed wouldn’t give up names, and they couldn’t get the information they needed to carry out an investigation,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.

“The cold, hard reality is that people living in small-town Newfoundland and Labrador fear repercussions for speaking out, and their livelihoods on the water will be jeopardized.”

This past spring, FISH-NL wrote the federal Competition Bureau to request an investigation into two separate allegations of collusion involving fish processing companies in the province.

One allegation involved an inshore fisherman from the Northern Peninsula who said he was prevented from moving from one shrimp buyer/processor to another. The second allegation involved a fisherman from Newfoundland’s south coast who accused processing companies of working together to keep the price of sea cucumber down.

While saying the complaint has been “closed,” officials with the Competition Bureau also directed FISH-NL to the confidential informant and whistle blower information on their website, which protects a person’s identity when they lay a complaint, and guards against retaliation.

“It’s important for inshore harvesters to know there’s a safe and confidential way for them to speak out about the cartel, which is alive and well today in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Cleary said.

M.I. to Facilitate Review of Northern Harvest Salmon Mortality

The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland has reached an agreement with the provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources (DFLR) to facilitate a review of the 2019 Newfoundland and Labrador South Coast Cultured Atlantic Salmon Mortality Event reported by Northern Harvest Sea Farms (Mowi Canada East).

The institute will establish a committee of independent external subject-matter experts that will examine:

  • the timelines of the mortality event;
  • the report by the provincial aquaculture veterinarian, and other relevant information provided by DFLR; such as diagnostic, oceanographic and environmental data and
  • other relevant information available from other sources.

The key objectives of the review will be to identify the cause of the mass mortality and assess the clean-up effort in response to the mortality event.

The review committee’s final report will be submitted to the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources and will recommend ways to prevent future occurrences, improve reporting requirements to government and improve response efforts by industry.

The review committee is expected to submit its final report by the end of February 2020.

Annual Closure of Canadian Coast Guard Seasonal Search and Rescue Stations

The Canadian Coast Guard recently proceeded with the annual closure of its seasonal search and rescue stations in Québec, Tadoussac, Kegaska, Rivière-au-Renard and Havre-Saint-Pierre on November 25.

The Cap-aux-Meules base was set to close on December 30, 2019.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s seasonal stations are strategically located to provide rapid assistance and to minimize the risk of injury or loss of life and to reduce the number and severity of maritime incidents and risks to the environment.

The stations’ activities start in April, before boating season begins, and end in November. Once winter sets in, the Canadian Coast Guard’s rescue boats can no longer be used in the prevailing navigation conditions in the St. Lawrence River and Gulf, which include freezing spray and ice.

During the winter, the Canadian Coast Guard mainly uses its icebreakers and, if necessary, any other vessels of opportunity. The Canadian Coast Guard has search and rescue partnerships with other government departments, such as the Department of National Defence, who provide air support when necessary.

Search and rescue calls can be made to the Canadian Coast Guard at all times at 1-800-463-4393 or through channel 16 on VHF radios.

FCC Opens Application Period for Future Leaders Canada 2020 Program

The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) recently opened the application period for its sector specific career development program — Future Leaders Canada.

The program is offered in partnership with its U.S. counterpart, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI). The Future Leaders Canada curriculum is designed to develop emerging leaders in the Canadian seafood industry through networking, programming and unique experiences along the supply chain.

“Executives who invested in the inaugural Future Leaders Canada Class of 2019 tell us the program was a huge success,” according to Paul Lansbergen, President of FCC. “Further, the Future Leaders participants can’t say enough about the value they received from the program. Future Leaders Canada 2020 will build on that initial success.”

The Canadian seafood industry is diverse in geography, in the type of species it harvests, and in the size of its companies. This program seeks to expose Future Leaders Canada participants to the various aspects of the seafood industry and facilitates opportunities for networking with classmates. The program enhances industry knowledge and leadership skills in the areas of government relations, production, procurement, sales and marketing. In addition to facility tours, participants get the opportunity to interact with different audiences that affect business decisions in the seafood community.

Curriculum includes opportunities to interact with Parliamentarians and government officials who make legislative and regulatory decisions. Participants also get a chance to learn about how customers, such as retailers and restaurants, operate and what influences their buying decisions. The program consists of three 3-day sessions, from May through August. The Future Leaders Canada participants will visit Ottawa, ON, Chicago, IL, Vancouver, B.C., and their surrounding areas. There is an optional orientation session in Boston at the Seafood Expo North America in March and an optional session in Brussels at the Seafood Expo Global in April. Graduates will be celebrated at the FCC Annual Conference in Ottawa, October 7–8, 2020.

The application period is now open and closes January 10, 2020. For more information, visit the FCC website.

Harvesters Ask Government to Refuse Bids on Important Fishing Area

At the November 6 deadline for bids on several offshore land parcels, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) announced that two bids were submitted for oil and gas exploration parcels on important fishing grounds.

Fish harvesters are asking the provincial government to refuse these bids to protect the inshore fishery and the value it brings to the province.

ExxonMobil and Husky/Suncor submitted bids on two of the parcels in the Jeanne d’Arc region, better known as the Grand Banks.

The FFAW-Unifor explained that if these bids are accepted, these companies could be given exclusive rights to undertake seismic and other exploration activities directly on critical crab habitat and harvesters’ most productive fishing grounds.

“Fish harvesters are baffled by the provincial government’s refusal to prioritize a renewable, sustainable fishery over oil and development. The provincial and federal governments still have the opportunity to do the right thing to protect these prime crab fishing grounds by not accepting the bids in these critical areas,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

“These crab fishing grounds are vital to the future of our enterprises and our coastal communities. Yet, government has consistently ignored our concerns in favour of further oil and gas development,” says FFAW-Unifor Executive Board member and Port de Grave harvester Nelson Bussey.

“Fish harvesters are not willing to give up more of our traditional, valuable fishing grounds to oil and gas development. We will do whatever it takes to protect these crab grounds and we call on the provincial government and our Members of Parliament to show their support for our industry by rejecting these bids,” says FFAW-Unifor Inshore Council member and St. John’s harvester Glen Winslow.

The union said the two parcels that have received bids could take millions of dollars in revenue away from the crab fishery each year and away from the rural communities who need it most.

“By continuing to ignore calls from fish harvesters to protect the fishery from the impacts of oil and gas development off our coast, the provincial government is sending a message that they don’t care about an industry that drives the economy of our coastal communities. We urge the Premier and Minister Coady to do the right thing; reject these bids and stand up for fish harvesters and rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” added Sullivan.

Alternative Lobster Bait Challenge Winner Announced

Vince Stuart of Clare Machine Works was recently named the winner of the Alternative Lobster Bait Challenge. With the title comes a cheque for $30,000 for the Meteghan Centre-based company and an opportunity to collaborate with an industry partner to bring the product to market.

Last year, Ignite Labs and Perennia launched the innovation challenge for the seafood industry. The challenge was to develop a lobster bait that used biproducts from the groundfish processing industry, but in a more sustainable way.

Currently, seafood processing in Nova Scotia produces millions of pounds of biproduct per year. Some of this biproduct is sold to the lobster industry as bait, however, it is estimated that, in order to harvest one pound of lobster, one pound of bait is needed. Increased demand for lobster bait due to decreased quotas for mackerel and herring (traditional sources of bait) offers opportunity to create an alternative bait to meet market demand.

In addition, the biproduct from fish could potentially be used for other high value products including products for the pharmaceutical industry and functional food industry.

Therefore, the challenge was to develop an alternative lobster bait that would use smaller proportions of fish biproduct combined with other agents that would produce the same amount of bait needed by the industry and most importantly, be as effective.

The alternative lobster bait had to meet the following conditions:

  • Be composed of a certain percentage of fish biproducts (recommended to not be lower than 10 per cent);
  • Be effective in attracting lobsters into the traps;
  • Be easily used by lobster harvesters and will adapt to the bait trapping methods currently used;
  • Be at a comparable price point to the current bait.
  • Should have a shelf life that is appropriate for industry use.

FAO Director General Calls for Ocean Sustainable Solutions for Fisheries

Various investments in ocean sustainability will raise the amount of fish to feed the poor, helping drive progress towards the eradication of hunger which is the lynchpin for achieving the other sustainable development goals, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu said in a recent speech.

“Ocean protection will only succeed if we spend financial and brain power in developing sustainable solutions,” Qu said in a keynote address at the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo.

Our Ocean 2019 focused on themes including climate change, marine pollution and security, sustainable fisheries, as well as its traditional focus on conservation initiatives. The conference, started in 2014 by then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, aims to promote voluntary government pledges to care for the ocean and since inception, has generated commitments totalling around 18 billion (U.S.) and 12.4-million-square kilometres of marine protected areas.

“Oceans provide us with enormous services,” Qu said, noting that global per capita fish consumption has risen to 20.3 kilograms a year and that fisheries and aquaculture provide livelihood opportunities to more than 10 per cent of the world’s population.

“If the ocean fails, it is because we fail ourselves.”

The Director-General warned of a “dangerous sustainability divide” as fisheries in developed regions become increasingly sustainable, rebuilding stocks, while those in developing regions are not improving as fast.

One-third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished, and climate change is likely to negatively impact stocks in tropical zones, according to FAO.

Oceans should be addressed as a solution, not a problem, Qu said. He urged a new push to invest in sustainable ocean growth and a significant effort to boost aquaculture, particularly in Africa.

The Director-General spoke on a panel on fisheries governance along with Bernard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Namibia and Harald Tom Nesvik, Minister of Fisheries and Seafood of Norway, as well as other experts.

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