On the Waterfront – May 2023

Russia to Unseat Norway as the World’s Leading Cod Producer in 2023

For the first time ever, Russia is set to overtake Norway as the world’s leading producer of cod.

This change is due to the decline in Atlantic cod stocks, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with total worldwide catch predicted to drop to a historic low of 1 million tonnes. In 2023, Norway is set to bring in 278,000 tonnes of cod down from 370,000.

While Russian catch will also dip, the change won’t be as drastic — going from 340,000 to 306,000 tonnes.

German Zverev, president of the All-Russian Association of Fisheries Industry (VARPE), says that the significant reduction in Norwegian catch presents an opportunity for Russia to strengthen its position in the worldwide market for white fish.

The FAO expects cod prices to rise to reflect these historic low catches. Consumers are expected to begin dipping into cheaper whitefish sources such as pollock, pangasius and tilapia to accommodate these rising prices.



Cooke to Acquire Slade Gorton

New Brunswick-based Cooke Inc. has entered into a binding purchase agreement with Massachusetts-based Slade Gorton.

Slade Gorton is one of the United States’ largest fresh and frozen seafood companies. It began in 1928 by Thomas Slade Gorton Jr., a fisherman who fished from schooners off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

Today, the company is still led by the Gorton family under CEO Kim Gorton and EVP Mike Gorton Jr. Gorton’s descendants will remain in their role after the purchase by Cooke.

“Cooke and Slade Gorton share a passion for ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy delicious, nutritious and sustainable seafood whether dining at home or in a restaurant,” said Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke Inc.

“We will build on the expertise, innovation and deep commitment to its customers’ success that Slade Gorton is so well-respected for. Working together with the True North Seafood sales team and leveraging Cooke’s global infrastructure and reach, we will help support our customers in increasing consumption of seafood in North America.”



P.E.I. and PEIFA Partner to Develop E-logs

The government of Prince Edward Island is partnering with the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA) to develop an e-log system for local fish harvesters.

On the heels of a regulation put forth by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) stating that harvesters must transition to an electronic logbook by 2024, P.E.I. is providing a one-time $250,000 grant over three years to PEIFA in order to develop a home-grown e-log for its members.

PEIFA President Bobby Jenkins says that the grant will go a long way to providing the association’s members with a low-cost, DFO-approved logbook.

“Prince Edward Island is known for our world-class seafood products, and we need to make every effort to keep these fisheries sustainable through efficient and accurate scientific reporting,” said P.E.I.’s Minister of Fisheries and Communities, Jamie Fox. “Supporting the PEIFA’s homemade solution is an investment that will pay dividends in our collective effort to both protect and deliver Island seafood products to market.”


$2.5 Million for Québec Fisheries Fund

A total of 15 projects in Québec that seek to improve the efficiency, quality and sustainability of Québec’s seafood sector have been awarded funding from the federal and provincial government as part of the Québec Fisheries Fund.

The funding, totalling over $2.5 million — $1,941,554 being provided by Canada — will help to fund projects in the Gaspé Region and the Magdalen Islands. The five-year fisheries fund is set to total $42.8 million in investments in projects that will increase the value of seafood products and aid long-term growth in the region.

“To remain competitive, businesses in the fisheries and aquaculture industry must innovate more than ever, in order to adapt to consumer needs as well as to meet market and societal requirements, particularly in terms of sustainable development,” said André Lamontagne, Québec’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

“The funded projects we are announcing will promote the vitality of the industry and communities in our Maritime regions, in addition to contributing to the growth of the economy and increasing Québec’s sustainable food self-sufficiency.”



IUU Fishing Action Alliance Welcomes New Member Countries

The Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Action Alliance, a government, industry and non-government organization coalition dedicated to ending IUU fishing, has welcomed new member states to help in its mission.

The newest additions to the fight against IUU are Iceland, the Republic of Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Chile and the European Union.

“The IUU Fishing Action Alliance is thrilled to welcome new members as they will contribute to our work together to end IUU fishing,” said Rear admiral Jo-Ann Burdian of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The Alliance is focused on three areas: becoming leaders in tackling IUU fishing domestically, coordinating action internationally, and holding other actors to account.”



DFO Working with AGC to Collect Resource and Ecosystem Data

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is partnering with the Atlantic Groundfish Council (AGC) to “develop science activities in Eastern Canada.”

In February, DFO and the AGC worked collaboratively aboard the Mersey Venture to collect data that will support U.S.-Canada transboundary fisheries management for shared species important to the offshore fishery in Atlantic Canada.

Data collected in this three-year partnership will continue to help inform fisheries management decisions, support Canada’s international obligations and encourage sustainable growth in Canada’s seafood industry.



Nova Scotia and Davis Piers Release New Aquaculture Report

The What We Heard Summary Report, a review on aquaculture by the government of Nova Scotia and consulting firm Davis Pier, was released in early March.

The review, which gathered data through a mixture of stakeholder and public engagement, ran for four weeks. 988 survey responses were received, with Nova Scotians accounting for 864 of them. Stakeholders questioned include representatives of the aquaculture industry, fish harvesters, environmental and community organizations, municipalities and academics.

Per the report, stakeholders and respondents both agree that the province’s regulations around aquaculture are a “good start.” Stakeholders noted that “one-size-fits-all” regulations create disparities between larger and smaller operators. Both parties also noted that they want easier access to information on aquaculture, as well as more inclusive and significant engagement from industry and government.



P.E.I. Company Bringing New Fishing Tech to North American Market

Prince Edward Island-based Sofistofish Technologies Ltd. has partnered with Mackay Marine Canada to bring FishTrak, a commercial fisheries catch management software, to North America.

FishTrak is a technology created by P.E.I. lobster fish harvester Kirk Arsenault that helps accurately track fishing over a season, helps find the best places to fish and provides a better understanding of the correlation between sea conditions and fishing. It is also e-log compliant with regulations set forward by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“This is a huge step forward not just for us, but for the inshore fisheries sector becoming more digital,” said Ken Driscoll, CEO of Sofistofish. “We already have captains using the product in the Atlantic Canadian market, and having Mackay Marine as a distributor is validation of the value we’re bringing to the inshore fisheries industry. We see global opportunity for our platform.”



SmartICE Now Operational in Nunatsiavut

All five communities in the Nunatsiavut autonomous region of Labrador — Nain, Hopedale, Rigolet, Postville and Makkovik — are using technology for monitoring the condition of sea ice.

SmartICE uses a combination of SmartBUOYs and SmartQAMUTIKs to monitor the thickness of the ice.

SmartBUOY is deposited into the ice with the use of an auger, which then uses thermistors to measure the temperature of the air, snow, ice and water to calculate the thickness of the ice. This data is then transferred to satellites, where the data can be found on SIKU.org.

SmartQAMUTIK, based upon traditional Inuit qamutik sleds, is towed behind snowmobiles to provide real-time snow and ice thickness data to the driver. The SmartQAMUTIK uses an EM31 sensor that emits an electromagnetic signal through the ice, which induces electrical currents in the salty sea water below and bounces back to the sensor above. SmartQAMUTIK trips are made at least once a week, and the data is also available to the public.

“It is exciting to see the progress of SmartICE, from originally being a research project based out of Nain, to a full social enterprise operating in all five Labrador Inuit communities,” said Nunatsiavut president Johannes Lampe. “SmartICE is helping to provide important sea ice information to community members, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their travel and sea ice use, while also providing important training and employment opportunities to Labrador Inuit.”



FCC “Disappointed” in Canadian Federal Budget

The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) expressed frustration with the federal government’s 2023 budget — particularly, what they see as a lack of support for data-based fisheries management and a strong Blue Economy.

The FCC made several recommendations to the government that were considered in its pre-budget report. The report expressed the need to further fund fisheries science as well as the requirement of hiring and retaining more fisheries scientists, which did not make it into the final budget.

“The Canadian fisheries industry has long been a cornerstone of the national economy, supporting thousands in rural, coastal and Indigenous communities. In order to reach its full potential as the largest ocean-based jobs provider and foundational of a healthy Blue Economy, the industry needs dedication from the federal government to fund sufficient fisheries science,” said Paul Lansbergen, President, FCC. “Making sound science-based fisheries management decisions is the only way to maximize growth and sustainability in tandem.”

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans recently released their study on science at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which made 48 suggestions that sought to make what is “good on paper good in practice.” This advice, along with advice from the FCC, seems to have gone unheeded.

“It is worth noting that there is no mention of the Blue Economy in the Budget. The Blue Economy Strategy was first mentioned in 2019 and now seems forgotten,” said Lansbergen. “We are a great source of sustainable, low-carbon food and jobs. There is so much potential in our sector to realize.”


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