On the Waterfront – March 2019

Cooke Acquires Seajoy Seafood

Cooke Inc. recently announced the completion of its acquisition of the Seajoy Seafood Corporation group, one of the largest vertically integrated, premium shrimp farms in Latin America.

“The acquisition of Seajoy is an important element in our focus on product diversification to meet our customers’ needs,” said Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke Inc. “Seajoy is a world-leading shrimp producer utilizing the highest quality and food safety standards and newest available technology. This aligns perfectly with our existing aquaculture and wild seafood fishery divisions. We feel Seajoy’s entrepreneurial drive, industry knowledge and care for their communities has made them successful and a big reason why we feel this is an incredible cultural fit.”

Seajoy Seafood Corporation group has a focus on producing value-added and organic Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) and selling to customers in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The company runs world-class operations from egg to plate and many of its 1,400 employees have significant long-term experience in the industry. Seajoy’s shrimp farms are located in Honduras and Nicaragua including processing plants, hatcheries and breeding programs.

Seajoy carries certifications for producing environmentally and socially responsible seafood from the GAA (Global Aquaculture Alliance), 4-star BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices), EU Organic, ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), SMETA (social) and the UK BRC (British Retail Consortium).

Conference Predicts More Cuts to N.L. Crab Fishery

The shellfish panel at the recent NFI Gobal Seafood Market Conference is predicting more cuts for the already beleaguered Newfoundland snow crab fishery.

According to the Undercurrent News, the outlook is for a cut of 35–45 per cent in the largest Newfoundland fishing zone, 3L.

In 2018, the overall total allowable catch (TAC) was cut 17 per cent, year-over-year, to 28,975 metric tons, with the 3L area at 18,838 tonnes. A 35 per cent cut in 3L for 2019 would mean a level of 12,245 tonnes, and 45 per cent would lead to 10,361 tonnes. Last year, the TAC was announced in April.

This means, even with a 47 per cent increase in the Alaskan snow crab fishery TAC, global output in 2019 will likely be down to the lowest level since 2011.

B.M.C. Seafoods Expanding

B.M.C. Seafoods Ltd. in Meteghan is expanding its operations with increased storage capacity and state-of-the-art grading equipment for live lobster.

“This expansion will help us compete toe-to-toe internationally with large scale-seafood corporations by enabling us to provide premium quality live lobsters to markets around the world. Through extending our operations, we are helping to ensure the superior taste of Nova Scotia lobster will be known far and wide,” said Cedric Robicheau, President and Owner of B.M.C. Seafoods Ltd. The company will be availing of a $225,000 repayable contribution through ACOA’s Business Development Program for the project.

The funding will allow B.M.C. Seafoods to purchase chillers and a refrigeration system, grading and packaging equipment, a monitoring and security system, pumps, filters and more for the premium grading of lobster.

In addition, B.M.C. Seafoods’ will be increasing its lobster holding capacity by 50,000 pounds, enabling them to hold up to 300,000 pounds of live lobster, giving the company the capacity to purchase live lobster from a total of 67 fishing boats in nine geographical fishing areas.

The expansion will allow the company to operate year-round, converting 50 seasonal positions to full-time jobs, and creating 13 new jobs.

B.M.C Seafoods has operated in Meteghan for more than 20 years and is currently working to meet all Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Transport Canada requirements for the successful export of the increased volume and quality of product.

Canada’s Marine Refuges Need an Upgrade, says SeaBlue Canada Report

A new report from SeaBlue Canada reveals that more than half of Canada’s marine refuges, a form of marine protected area in Canada, do not yet meet international standards.

While Canada has made significant progress to protect its marine and coastal environment, the report shows stronger standards are required to effectively conserve biodiversity.

Since 2015, Canada has designated 7.9 per cent of the ocean as protected areas. However, with more than half of that protected under Fisheries Act measures — areas referred to as marine refuges — many harmful industrial practices can still continue. Fisheries Act measures restrict fishing impacts and some other harmful activities but cannot protect against many other significant threats to the marine environment.

 “We want to ensure that Canada’s efforts to protect marine wildlife are meaningful and effectively preserve biodiversity and habitats,” says Susanna Fuller of Oceans North, a co-author of the report. “Right now, there are several areas where improvements need to be made and we urge decision-makers take our recommendations seriously.”

Using publicly available information, the report reviewed all 54 areas protected through the Fisheries Act and assessed how these areas met criteria set out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as guidance recently adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which Canada is a signatory. Meeting CBD criteria determines if sites can count as “protected” at an international level. Canada has committed to revisiting its marine refuges following the adoption of international guidance.

The majority of current fisheries closures prohibit all bottom fishing activities and have been put in place to protect fragile sponge and coral communities. Some were designed to protect a single species or prohibit only a single type of fishing gear.

Major recommendations of the report include:

  • Update national guidance to align with international standards, particularly as Canada can set an example for other countries by improving marine refuges to more fully align with international standards.
  • Pass the amended Fisheries Act, currently in second reading at the Senate of Canada, to ensure these areas become permanently protected through ecologically special areas provisions.
  • Clearly identify monitoring and management for each marine refuge to ensure biodiversity is being effectively conserved.
  • Smaller areas that only protect a single species should be removed from consideration as marine refuges when they do not contribute to the overall protection of biodiversity, despite being important fisheries management measures.
  • Review the Atlantic Offshore Accord Agreements so that oil and gas exploration and development is restricted from areas closed to protect fish and fish habitat.

New Food Safety Regime Signals Opportunity for Canada’s Fish and Seafood Sector

New rules which modernize Canada’s food safety regime are an opportunity for Canada’s fish and seafood sector to expand exports.

Launched by the Canada Food Inspection Agency, the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) are designed to make Canada’s food safety system safer, benefiting Canadians, but also burnishing the country’s international reputation as a trusted supplier of safe and high-quality fish and seafood.

“Canadians already have one of the strongest most modern food safety regimes in the world. However, the speed, volume and complexity of food production present new risks and challenges — including new threats to food safety, changing consumer preferences and prevention-focused international standards,” says Paul Lansbergen, President of the Fisheries Council of Canada.

“For an internationally competitive and export driven sector like fish and seafood, it’s crucial to respond to these challenges by maintaining Canada’s reputation as a world leader in food safety.”

The new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations are the product of collaboration between federal regulators, business and food safety experts and will make Canada’s food system even safer by focusing on prevention and traceability — allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace. At the same time, SFCR is intended to streamline the licensing process and reduce red-tape by replacing 14 sets of regulations with one, to help maintain and grow market access.

“In November 2018, FCC launched a national brand, Canadian Seafood, to promote the sector’s key attributes. Having a modern, reliable and trusted food safety regime is one of those key attributes — it’s one of the reasons we’ll stay ahead of the pack because it instills confidence in the Canadian brand,” says Lansbergen.

“None of the other compelling reasons for buying Canadian seafood would matter if customers didn’t have faith in the quality or safety of our products. SFCR builds on our past success in food safety and positions Canada well for the future.”

Greenland Reduces Wild Salmon Harvest

Fewer than 18 tonnes of wild Atlantic salmon were harvested off Greenland this year, according to the Greenland Fishery License Control Authority (GFLK).

The amount is equal to approximately 5,270 adult fish, the Atlantic Salmon Federations (ASF) reported. It was the lowest catch on record since 2005, when an earlier ASF-sponsored conservation agreement was in place.

The results indicated a successful first year for the new 12-year salmon conservation agreement that was recently signed by Kalaallit Nunaanni Aalisartut Piniartullu Kattuffiat (KNAPK), which is the union representing Greenland commercial fishermen, ASF and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF).

The agreement encourages fishermen to limit their take of wild Atlantic salmon in exchange for assistance developing alternate sources of income and support for marine research and conservation projects.

“This is great news for wild Atlantic salmon and full credit goes to our Greenlandic partners, especially KNAPK, who showed openness and integrity in the spirit of the agreement,” said ASF President Bill Taylor.

Wild Atlantic salmon from more than 2,000 rivers in North America and Europe congregate off the coast of West Greenland to feed and grow. Some spend up to three years in the area before returning to home rivers to spawn. Population analysis shows that on average 75 per cent of salmon taken off Greenland are of North American origin.

Because many wild Atlantic salmon populations are critically endangered, the mixed stock fishery off Greenland has been continuously advised against by the international scientific body ICES and by national governments whose salmon migrate to Greenland, such as Canada, the United States and the European Union.

The 2018 harvest was reported at 17.79 tonnes by GFLK, a figure that includes landings from recreational and professional fishermen. The KNPAK-ASF-NASF conservation agreement sets a total harvest level of 20 tonnes for all fishermen. In the most recent five years leading up 2018, reported Greenland catches fluctuated between a high of 58 tonnes and a low of 27 tonnes.

Reduced Cod TAC in Bering Sea Part of New Normal

This year’s reduction in the total allowable catch (TAC) of Bering Sea cod may result in a shorter season, but it is not expected to change fleet behavior or vessel costs yet.

The 11.3 per cent drop in TAC available to the federal fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands in 2019 adds pressure to trawl and longline skippers who have allocations for both directed harvests and bycatch of cod.

Most fleet managers and those familiar with the dynamics of the Bering Sea fisheries acknowledge that most vessels have allocations for other species, an option they will take to stay within their annual TAC of cod harvest and of cod as a prohibited species (by-catch allocation.)

Longline and pot harvests for Pacific cod in the Bering Sea began January 1.

Last year, some vessels in the freezer-longliner fleet traveled farther north, following Pacific cod that has in recent years been following cooler water in the Bering Sea to its northern boundaries.

The McDowell Group’s annual report on Alaska seafood in 2018 indicates export prices for Alaska cod last year increased from 2017. Head and gutted product (H&G) production increased 12 per cent and roe production for cod was up 21 per cent.

P.E.I. Fishermen Vote in Favour of Curfew

A group of Prince Edward Island lobster fishermen have voted in favour of supporting the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU) proposal for a curfew in Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 25.

The curfew involves fishing trips not beginning before 4 a.m. and boats being off the water by 9 p.m.

The Prince County Fishermen’s Association (PCFA) was seeking input from LFA 25 P.E.I. lobster fishermen on their views on the curfew proposal. Some 149 questionnaires were returned out of a total of 213 LFA 25 commercial lobster licensed fishermen.

As was stated in the ballot, the PCFA will use the majority results of the vote (50 per cent plus one of returned questionnaires) to move forward. All management measures put forward will be subject to DFO approval.

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