On the Waterfront – March 2021

Grieg Newfoundland and Carpenter’s Union Sign Labour Agreement

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 579 was recently voluntarily recognized as a signatory union by Grieg Seafood Newfoundland.

Mike Williams, President of Carpenters Local 579 stated, “Local 579 is looking forward to providing our newest signatory partner with a well-trained and skilled workforce that demonstrates their strong work ethic, productivity and safety mindset on the job site every day.”

Knut Skeidsvoll, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland stated, “We are looking forward to a productive and harmonious partnership with Local 579. We see opportunities to strengthen and grow our relationship in the future and enhancing the reputation of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland as a world class aquaculture company.”

Grieg Seafood is the seventh largest salmon farming company in the world, with production in Norway, Scotland and British Columbia and is currently undergoing an expansion to it’s Placentia Bay aquaculture project with the construction of a state-of-the-art salmon hatchery in Marystown, N.L.

Carpenters Local 579 has 2,600 highly skilled members in Newfoundland and Labrador leading the way in training, educating and representing the next generation of skilled construction and maintenance professionals in the province.

In a press release, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland and Local 579 stated that they are excited about the future opportunities in the fast-growing aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador and are looking forward to working together in 2021 so that Grieg Seafood Newfoundland becomes an industry leader in the province and country.


N.B. Unveils New Local Food and Beverages Strategy

New Brunswick’s Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries recently released its new Local Food and Beverages Strategy 2021–2025.

The four-year action plan aims to benefit the agriculture, agri-food and seafood sectors across the province and has three core pillars: Grow N.B., Buy N.B. and Feed N.B.

Performance measures are in place for each pillar with the goal of educating and raising awareness within the sectors and the public.

“More than ever, New Brunswickers want to know where their food comes from and how it is processed,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson.

“The continued strengthening of our food system and improving food self-sufficiency is central to the development, growth and sustainability of the local food and beverage sectors.”

The strategy was created in collaboration with representatives from Indigenous communities, industry stakeholders, and provincial and federal government agencies. It was developed based upon input from three working groups: Industry Development, Food Security and First Nations. Actions identified through this process are either included in the action plan for year one or will be considered by the working group for future years.

“Food security challenges in Indigenous communities in New Brunswick are real — especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eel Ground First Nation Chief George Ginnish.

“I am encouraged by the collaborative efforts to create a strategy with specific goals reflective of Indigenous values. This multi-year strategy is a step in the right direction towards creating more opportunities for First Nations in the agriculture and agri-food sector. We are happy with this progress and see great potential and opportunities to extend this type of collaboration to other resource sectors, such as seafood. I look forward to working together to improve on our food security. We still have a long way to go.”

Anna Belliveau, CEO of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick and Suzanne Fournier, executive director of the National Farmers Union-N.B., expressed support for the strategy. Representatives from their organizations participated in the Industry Development working group. Both leaders said they look forward to the programs and to the support it will offer producers and businesses, which will also benefit consumers.

The province’s agriculture and seafood industries deliver more than 50 commodities to local and export markets. They also employ more than 17,000 people in primary production and processing and are a significant contributor to Indigenous, rural and coastal communities and their economies.


Project Removes 63 Tonnes of Ghost Gear

In early 2020, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the $8.3-million Ghost Gear Fund, an initiative to fund several projects over two years (2020–2022) to help remove lost or discarded fishing gear from Canada’s coastal waters.

In 2020, the department funded 26 projects — 22 in Canada and four internationally. Early estimates show that these projects have helped to remove almost 63 tonnes — the equivalent of 11 elephants — of lost or discarded fishing gear in Atlantic Canada.

All gear was retrieved in Atlantic Canada. Several retrieval operations on the Pacific coast are planned for early 2021.

Gear collected

  • Bay of Fundy and coastal waters off Nova Scotia: 80 per cent
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence: 14 per cent
  • Coastal waters off Newfoundland: six per cent

Types of gear retrieved

  • Lobster traps/crab pots: 86 per cent of gear retrieved
  • Nets and longline from various fisheries: 14 per cent of gear retrieved
  • Rope: 3.2 km

Sources of gear retrieval

  • Projects supported through DFO’s $8.3-million Ghost Gear Fund
  • Self-funded third-party projects authorized by the Department to collect gear
  • Fishery officer patrols
  • Retrieved gear reports submitted by fish harvesters

The Ghost Gear Program also works to reunite lost fishing gear with its owner, a process made easier through increased gear marking and reporting requirements introduced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada since 2018.

  • 101 pieces of marked gear have been claimed by harvesters
  • 25 pieces of gear were relinquished by harvesters, allowing for them to be safety disposed of by the Department.


Cooke Aquaculture, Clearwater Seafood Named One of Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers

Cooke Aquaculture and Clearwater Seafoods have been named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers for 2021.

For the past 20 years, Mediacorp Canada Inc. has been researching and selecting the Atlantic Canada Top Employer honourees, and according to Anthony Meehan, the founder and president of Media Corp., they were not surprised to see fewer companies make the list than last year.

“COVID has been a challenge for everyone,” said Meehan. “We know people were focused on pivoting their business, so it was no surprise when we received just over 1,000 applications. That’s a lower number than in previous years.”

But Meehan was surprised by one thing.

“We thought we’d see a lot of layoffs and cutbacks,” he explained. “Instead, we saw this great investment in corporate social responsibility and community. Employers are giving back more than ever.”

Cooke Aquaculture and Clearwater Seafoods are just two examples of companies in Atlantic Canada who are giving back to their employees.

Cooke Aquaculture, based out of Saint John, New Brunswick, has 2,066 full time employees in Canada. They made the list this year by providing retirement planning assistance and a defined benefit pension plan. They also offer subsidies for job-related courses and professional accreditation, as well as academic scholarships for children of employees, up to $1,000 per child per year.

Clearwater Seafoods, based out of Bedford, Nova Scotia, has 1,068 full-time employees in Canada. They made the list this year for helping their employees save for the future, offering retirement plan assistance and phased-in work options for those nearing retirement. Clearwater also offers up to 70 per cent of salary for maternity and parental leave, which ranges from 35 to 52 weeks. And the company has organizational capability awards (for teamwork, competence and character), as well as a peer-nominated You Made a Difference Award, where winners are selected on a quarterly basis.


Union Applauds Funding for NL-FHSA Operations

FFAW-Unifor recently praised the commitment by Workplace NL for $1.75 million, over five years, to fund endeavours undertaken by the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA) to implement stronger safety protocols, technologies and equipment for fish harvesters.

“Fish harvesting remains one of the most dangerous occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador, while continuing to be one of the province’s most valuable industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has made conditions even more challenging, requiring harvesters and leading health and safety experts to work together to develop unique safe work practices while operating at sea,” the union stated in a press release.

The NL-FHSA has been working since early 2020 to gain an understanding of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the fish harvesting industry. The funding will help develop enhanced best practices that will give harvesters in our province more protection from the conditions at sea, as well as decreasing the risk of viral transmission while in close quarters on vessels.

The work has been carried out in partnership with FFAW-Unifor and the Professional Fish Harvester Certification Board (PFHCB), and in collaboration with other representatives of the NL-FHSA Board of Directors and Advisory Committee.

The busy TriNav Marine Brokerage Booth at the ECFE 2019.

Date Change for Major Yarmouth Commercial Fishing Expo

Canada’s longest-running, most successful commercial fishing show is being postponed.

The Eastern Canadian Fisheries Exposition traditionally takes place around the end of January at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Organizers behind the show have made the decision to delay this year’s edition until June 4–5, 2021.

The 2021 dates for this biennial event were originally slated for slightly later than usual in early March, with hopes for more consistently positive developments around the COVID-19 pandemic and the reopening of the Atlantic Bubble. Unfortunately, the situation is still very fluid and given that the many of the trade show’s exhibitors and attendees come from New Brunswick and other parts of the Maritimes, moving the show to June will best position it for success.

“June is later in the year than we would normally hold the show, but we think there is a window at the end of the lobster season in the southwest Nova Scotia region,” said Show Manager Shawn Murphy. “We are optimistic that this additional time will allow for fewer restrictions on interprovincial travel so we can welcome those involved in the commercial fishing industry from throughout Atlantic Canada.”


COVID-19 Impacts on Alaska Landings Improved by End of Year


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently updated the impacts of COVID-19 in Alaska.

Prices were estimated to be between 15–50 per cent down from 2019, depending on species.

The NOAA update showed that landings were down about 15 per cent by August, but updated catch data shows most species’ limits were caught with less than five to eight per cent left in the water.

One exception to that was state-wide salmon landings of 116,700,000 fish, which were 88 per cent of pre-COVID-19 estimates (132.7 million salmon) and  were significantly down from 2019’s 208 million fish. Prices in 2019 for sockeye salmon were $1.61 per pound, which is much higher than last year. The largest production region in the state, Bristol Bay, offered ex-vessel prices of $.50 per pound last year.

Pollock and cod came within a few percentage points of their quota for landings in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands by the end of the year. Prices for cod and pollock (at-sea processed) were slightly higher last year (up to August 2020) than in 2019. Shore-based prices were about the same, according to the NOAA report.

Alaska remains the region of the United States with the largest export values over the baseline January–June period (about $1 billion) but experienced a seven per cent decline in value in 2020 relative to 2019. There was also a large (48 per cent) decline in imports to Alaska, but those only represent a very small amount (approximately $5 million).

China is the U.S.’s top export country for January–June seafood exports and is a major importer of Alaska seafood. Exports to China (including cod, crab and pollock) decreased from the $515-million baseline average to $386 million in 2020, a 25 per cent decline.

However, the U.S. dollar weakened from January to August 2020 against the Euro (-6 per cent) and Yen (-3 per cent) which should have helped U.S. and Alaska seafood export competitiveness.

Halibut harvests last year were 20.8 million pounds, 94 per cent of the 22.2-million -pound limit in Canada and the U.S. last year.

The report summarized eight of Alaska’s main species of seafood: crab, flatfish, Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, sablefish, rockfish, pollock and salmon.


N.S. to Maine Ferry Service Suspended for 2021 Season


The ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, Maine will not operate during the 2021 season because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a disappointing decision to have to make, but given the ongoing uncertainty, it is really the only choice we have. We must keep Nova Scotians safe,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines.

“The province remains committed to this service in the long term. It will resume when circumstances allow. Many Nova Scotians invest time, effort and money based on this ferry service, and many highly skilled people work on it. We are appreciative of their service and effort and know they will understand the circumstances.’’

Currently, the border between the U.S. and Canada is closed to unrestricted, non-essential travel and that is not expected to change in the foreseeable future. As well, a critical percentage of the general population is not expected to be vaccinated until summer.

As a result, the planned May to October ferry season is suspended. Making the decision now will help reduce costs in areas such as marketing, hiring additional ship and terminal crew, and moving The Cat ferry to Yarmouth. Normal vessel maintenance programs will continue.

The decision comes following consultation with Nova Scotia Public Health, ferry operators Bay Ferries Ltd. and the Town of Yarmouth.


Baader Acquires Swedish Fish Processing Manufacturer SEAC


Baader recently announced that it has acquired Swedish fish-processing manufacturer SEAC AB.

The deal came into effect on January 18.

Located in Färjestaden on the island of Öland, SEAC is a top supplier of fish-processing machinery for small pelagic fish species including ellow croaker, anchovy, sprat and smaller whitefish such as blue whiting, Alaska pollock and hake. The company has over 30 years of experience with these species and has machines sent all over the world.

“Looking into the future and the compatible processing solutions of Baader, the SEAC technology is a perfect fit for Baader to further extend our overall product portfolio among small fish species,” highlights Robert Focke, Managing Director of Baader Fish.

Ulf Grönqvist, the owner of SEAC, will step down as CEO and hand over his responsibilities to Vidar Breiteig, Managing Director of Baader in Norway, the company stated.

Anders Lorentzen, Managing Director of Baader in Denmark, will become Deputy Managing Director of SEAC, thus supporting Vidar Breiteig in his new and additional role as Managing Director of SEAC.

Grönqvist will hold a consultant role to ensure a smooth transition.

“By acquiring SEAC, we are further concentrating our leading role as a provider of complete protein-processing solutions. The need to meet global food demand now and in the future drives us to continuously improve and advance our offerings,” says Petra Baader, Executive Chairwoman of Baader. “Boosting the sale of SEAC processing solutions means ensuring that more small fish species will be available for high-quality human consumption.”

SEAC will operate as an independent entity under the same brand with all employees remaining within their roles and responsibilities. BAADER said it will ensure the continuation of manufacturing and ongoing development of both SEAC machinery and spare parts.

“We will ensure that customers will continue to be able to purchase existing and innovative SEAC processing solutions. At the same time, we will work towards generating even more customer benefits by integrating SEAC machinery into additional BAADER solutions and service as well as the supply chain,” said Breiteig.

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