DFO Enacts Fisheries Act Regulatory Changes
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently announced regulatory changes aimed at rebuilding vulnerable fish stocks.
These fish stocks provisions are now in force under the Fisheries Act. This places binding obligations on DFO to manage certain fish stocks sustainably and to put rebuilding plans in place when stocks become depleted; requirements are also now in place to ensure that rebuilding plans are developed in a timely and consistent manner.
The fish stocks provisions and corresponding regulatory changes were developed in part with feedback from Indigenous groups, harvesters, non-government environmental organizations, other fisheries stakeholders, and over 400 Canadians.
The new provisions currently apply to 30 major fish stocks, 16 of which require rebuilding. DFO is required to develop and implement the rebuilding plans for these 16 stocks within the next 24–36 months, under the criteria set out in the new regulations.
Five of the prescribed fish stocks currently have rebuilding plans: Atlantic cod (NAFO 2J3KL), Atlantic mackerel, Bocaccio rockfish, Northern shrimp (SFA 6) and yelloweye rockfish (inside waters).
DFO is required to develop and implement rebuilding plans for the following depleted stocks within the next 24–36 months: Atlantic cod (three stocks), Atlantic herring, Chinook salmon (two stocks), Coho salmon, Pacific herring, American plaice, winter flounder and white hake.
Under the fish stocks provisions, DFO is also obligated to put measures in place to maintain the following healthier stocks at sustainable levels: Atlantic halibut, lobster, Northern shrimp (four stocks), Pacific hake, Acadian redfish, sablefish, silver hake, snow crab (three stocks) and yelloweye rockfish (outside waters).
Low SWNS Lobster Landings In April
Not a lot of lobster were being landed by lobster fishing area (LFA) 33 and 34 fishermen as April was winding down and the commercial season was going into its final month.
“It’s been an interesting spring,” says Tommy Amirault, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association. “We’ve seen the price as high as it’s ever been, mind you there wasn’t very many lobster coming ashore. With the price of fuel, bait and everything, I don’t think the end number was as good as it looked… It’s going to take a fairly expensive lobster to keep the fleet going with the price of everything going up.”
The shore price peaked at $18/pound this spring in southwestern Nova Scotia and was in the $10/pound range at the end of April, which is still a good price said Amirault, but there is still not a lot of lobster being caught.
“The water is cold, the weather has been a challenge since the start of the season really,” says Amirault, adding most fishermen in LFAs 33, 34, 35 and 38 are saying they are having a slow spring.
“I hear a lot of guys are going more or less to tend their gear and hoping the lobster come on. There’s just a little over a month left and no sign of anything big yet.”
Lockeport buyer Mike Cotter said the water has “got to warm up quite a bit to get those lobster moving some. The catches have not been good. The water is still very, very cold and the catches are still low.”
Cotter said once the lobster fishery opens in Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton and the Northumberland Shore, he expects the shore price will go down a bit again. The lobster season is now also open in many areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Market-wise, China is very slow with very little lobster going there and the U.S. market is almost completely dead, said Cotter. “There is a little bit of crate run going there, but not a lot.”
Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada said given that it is April/May and the market is dealing with COVID-19 lockdowns in China, severe food inflation in North America and the war in Ukraine, “this is a good time to simply say we need to see how this plays out.”
Oceana Canada Calls for Capelin Fishery Closure
A conservation organization says it has compelling evidence that capelin (NAFO Area 2J3KL) is critically depleted and overfished.
Oceana Canada is calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to close the fishery until it can demonstrate the population is growing out of the critical zone.
“This will require investment in capelin research and developing reference points and a rebuilding plan. Future harvest levels, once the population recovers, must take into consideration the essential contributions capelin play as prey for other species, including critically depleted Northern cod,” the group said in a press release.
“This stock has a dire outlook, which would be devastating for northeastern Newfoundland and Labrador coastal communities,” said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Oceana Canada’s Science Director.
“In advance of DFO’s quota announcement, we are calling for a management shift that prioritizes a return to abundance and is in line with decisions already made for other critically depleted forage fish, such as Pacific and Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel. We need more capelin to be left in the ocean right now, to ensure this population can support a thriving coastal ecosystem and the social, cultural and economic benefits that come alongside this.”
Oceana Canada’s latest assessment gives 2J3KL capelin the provisional health status of critical.
“Under DFO’s precautionary approach, this means that conservation action must take precedence. This policy also states that the absence of scientific information is not a reason to avoid doing serious harm to a stock. In addition to closing the fishery, DFO must also invest resources into estimating spawning biomass of capelin and establishing reference points to inform management decisions.”
Last year, DFO reduced the quota for 2J3KL capelin by 25 per cent (from 19,377 metric tonnes to 14,842 metric tonnes).
PEIFA Receives Funding for Energy-Efficient Technology
The Government of Canada and the Province of Prince Edward Island recently announced funding support to the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA) through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF).
A total contribution of more than $3 million was announced to help PEIFA with the implementation of its Inshore Fishing Fleet Sustainability Strategy.
PEIFA’s two-stream strategy aims to encourage harvesters to invest in and adopt fuel efficient technology. The first stream will fund the trials of energy efficient vessel propulsion systems and the second stream will fund the adoption of auxiliary vessel equipment designed to reduce fuel consumption.
For the past three years, PEIFA has been designing a project that would contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions by our inshore fishing fleet.
“With today’s funding announcement by the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF), it is the association’s intent to now proceed with a pilot project that will try technologies that could assist in the reduction of carbon outputs. The cost sharing program will assess engines and specific auxiliary equipment that is intended to reduce overall engine emissions and increase the operating efficiency of vessels. The Association will be collaborating with Stantec Consulting of Charlottetown on the installation of onboard testing equipment for the selected vessels. Next steps for the project will include issuing request for proposals (RFPs) to engine manufacturers and captains for participation in the two-year pilot program. PEIFA will be releasing more program details in the near future.”
SEA-NL calls on Government to Include Fish Pricing in Competition Act
The Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to include fish pricing in the federal Competition Act with planned amendments to the legislation.
“The only industry in Canada excluded from the federal Competition Act is the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, and the inshore fleet pays the price in terms of less money for their fish,” says Ryan Cleary, Executive Director of SEA-NL.
In the recent federal budget, the federal government revealed plans to make amendments to toughen Canadian competition laws. As part of those changes, government pledged to tackle anti-competitive conspiracies between competitors that hurt workers.
“Fish price negotiations in this province — the structure of which was described last year by the premier’s economy recovery team as ‘anti-competitive by nature’ — are excluded from the federal Competition Act (Section 4). In Newfoundland and Labrador, processors can import snow crab from the Maritimes and Québec for processing at local plants, while those same processors can order the inshore fleet — which can’t access outside buyers — tied to the wharf on trip limits,” Cleary said.
“How is that fair in terms of competition?” asked Cleary, who’s writing the Prime Minister with a formal request.
“Fish prices paid to our owner-operators are too often much less than the prices paid to fleets across the Gulf, and that fundamental unfairness can only end when the playing field is levelled in terms of fair competition.”
Cleary said that the panel system of fish pricing — which is exclusive to Newfoundland and Labrador and enshrined in provincial government legislation — often does not result in the inshore fleet getting a fair market share from the sale of fish.
Grieg Selected for Bays West Aquaculture Industry Expansion
Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Minister Derrick Bragg recently announced that Grieg Seafood Newfoundland was the successful proponent of the Provincial Government’s recent Expression of Interest process for potential aquaculture development on the province’s southwest coast.
Grieg Seafood Newfoundland was the highest ranked proponent in a thorough, multi-phase procurement process to seek expressions of interest, followed by request for qualifications and request for proposals phases. The Provincial Government engaged a third-party fairness advisor to guide the procurement process and to ensure it was transparent and non-biased.
The Provincial Government will now begin discussions on a memorandum of understanding with Grieg Seafood Newfoundland, which will lay out time-bound milestones the company must meet when developing this area.
The Bays West area, from Bay d’Espoir west towards Burgeo and Port-aux-Basques, has the potential to produce 15,000 to 20,000 metric tonnes of Atlantic salmon and create employment and economic development, particularly on the island’s southwest coast.
Alliance Applauds Georges Bank Announcement
The Nova Scotia Offshore Alliance welcomes the extension of the Georges Bank oil and gas moratorium.
“We are very pleased to hear that the moratorium has been extended, but request that it be made permanent so that coastal communities and the fishing industry are not put through this process every ten years or so,” says John Davis, Director with the Clean Ocean Action Committee.
Alliance members applaud the provincial and federal government’s decision to extend the moratorium and hope it will be the last time.
“This will be the fourth time the Georges Bank Moratorium has been extended,” says Marilyn Keddy of the South Shore Chapter of the Council of Canadians, “In this time of climate change, it’s the moment to make the prohibition permanent.”
The two levels of government first imposed a moratorium on drilling in 1980 after exploration licences were issued to oil companies. The fishing industry and coastal communities in SW Nova Scotia led the opposition.
The Georges Bank announcement came shortly after federal and provincial governments announced they were changing the name of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Board and that the primary focus of the newly named Board would be renewable energy.
The Alliance supported this shift but is calling on both levels of Government and Indigenous Governments to completely close the door on all drilling in Nova Scotian waters, not just Georges Bank.
The Alliance is also calling on the two levels of Government as they eye offshore wind, possibly paired with hydrogen, to prioritize a new relationship between this new industry and existing stakeholders like the fishing industry and conservation groups.
The Offshore Alliance is a consortium of 18 fisheries groups and environmental NGOs concerned about the well-being of the fishery and tourism industries, environment and healthy coastal communities in the face of offshore oil and gas development off Nova Scotia.
Canada and France Announce 3Ps Cod TAC Rollover
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently announced that an agreement has been reached with France regarding 3Ps cod for the 2022–23 fishing season.
Both countries intend to roll over the current total allowable catch (TAC) of 1,346 tonnes.
Canada and France (in respect of Saint Pierre and Miquelon) co-manage fish stocks, including cod, in the 3Ps zone off the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Under the Procès-Verbal Agreement, the two countries meet annually to negotiate management measures, including the TAC of these shared stocks in the North Atlantic.
A November 2021 stock assessment concluded the 3Ps cod stock has remained in the critical zone since the early 2000s, however fishing mortality is at its lowest level in decades. The development of a rebuilding plan for 3Ps cod is underway in consultation with a working group that includes stakeholders from industry, environmental non-government organizations, and provincial and territorial governments.
Canada and France have also agreed on a rollover of TACs for 3Ps witch flounder, Unit 2 redfish and 3Ps Iceland scallop and to maintain a moratorium for 3Ps American plaice.
GSA Launching First Consumer Marketing Campaign
The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) recently announced that it is launching its consumer marketing campaign entitled Healthy Fish, Healthy Planet, Healthy You.
The campaign, which is set to coincide with National Seafood Month in October, will be focused on GSA’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification program. The goal is to heighten awareness of the BAP brand and drive sales of responsibly produced and sourced seafood.
“Our research shows that consumers are trying to eat better, and that consumers who know BAP, trust BAP,” explained GSA CEO Brian Perkins.
“There’s clearly an opportunity here for retailers and foodservice operators to drive their sales of responsibly produced and sourced seafood by further aligning with the BAP program. We’ve learned that retailers and foodservice operators who make a commitment to sourcing BAP and communicate that fact are also more highly regarded by their customers.”
Air Canada Starts Halifax Freighter Service
Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo have started their first dedicated freighter flight into Halifax Stanfield International Airport using the second Boeing 767-300ER to enter service.
The addition of this aircraft will allow Air Canada Cargo to start high frequency, direct freighter capacity from Halifax to Air Canada Cargo’s global network, including service to Frankfurt, Cologne, Istanbul and Madrid.
“We have always enjoyed a long-standing and strong bond with Atlantic Canada and the Nova Scotia community, and we are thrilled to introduce direct freighter capacity to the market. Atlantic Canada’s economy has experienced important growth in the last few years, with increased demand from North America, Europe and beyond. Nova Scotia is a key element of our growth strategy and Halifax being one of our first Canadian markets with the freighters further emphasizes the importance we place on our partnerships in the community. We are pleased to increase our support to the robust and growing trade sector in the region,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo at Air Canada.
“Having stronger air links opens the door for more trade and investment in our province. It means we can build on the already strong relationship with our trading partners and create new ones,” said N.S. Premier Tim Houston.
“This is an important step forward for many of our businesses who will benefit from this exciting growth of Air Canada’s freighter network.”
“This exciting Air Canada Cargo expansion will increase capacity at Halifax Stanfield, providing Nova Scotia businesses and industries with more opportunities to ship their products efficiently by air,” said Joyce Carter, President and CEO, Halifax International Airport Authority.
The new service to Halifax complements Air Canada Cargo’s regular freighter service to Latin American cities.