On the Waterfront – October 2015

N.L. Government Invests More Money In Aquaculture

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is investing $1.5 million in economic infrastructure and an expanding aquaculture industry on the south coast which will see the refurbishment of the Harbour Breton wharf and the introduction of new technology at the town’s fish plant.

This investment will allow the plant to reopen this fall, creating approximately 100 jobs.

As part of the $1.5 million investment:

  • $1 million will support the Town of Harbour Breton to refurbish the wharf adjacent to the fish plant;
  • $500,000 will enable 54417 Newfoundland and Labrador Co. Ltd., managed by Barry Group International, to purchase pre-rigor processing technology for the plant.

This is the first time this technology will be employed in the province and it will assist in producing product of the freshest and highest quality. The company is contributing $3.5 million to this project.

Salmon from Northern Harvest Sea Farms in St. Alban’s will be processed at the plant. The ability to have fish processed in Harbour Breton is critical to Northern Harvest Sea Farms expansion plans.

As announced in May, the company is receiving $8.15 million from the provincial government toward a $17.6-million expansion of its operations, which is expected to increase employment from 145 full-time equivalent positions to 180.

The economic impact of this development will benefit the entire region, resulting in an increase of approximately $55 million in provincial gross domestic product, 772 person years of employment and an additional $30 million in wages, salaries and benefits over the next 10 years.

New Clam Species Identified Off East Coast

Canadian scientists have described a new species of giant file clam, originally collected from deep waters off Newfoundland 30 years ago.

The scientific paper, published in the journal Zootaxa, is co-authored by researchers with the Canadian Museum of Nature and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Bedford Institute of Oceanography).

“This is the culmination of a story that began decades ago when, as a PhD student, I first observed this clam in an underwater submersible off the coast of Newfoundland,” explained Dr Jean-Marc Gagnon, Curator of Invertebrates with the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

“Originally, we assumed it to be a European species.”

In recent years, more samples have been collected off the Grand Banks and in a marine protected area “The Gully” about 220 kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia. Through DNA analysis coupled with comparative studies of other giant file clams in museum collections, Gagnon and his colleagues determined these north Atlantic specimens to be a new species.

The giant file clam, about 9 to 15 centimetres long, is two to three times larger than a regular file clam (so-named because of the sharp ridges on the shell surface). This creature attaches to steep, rocky outcrops in canyons that are home to other deepwater species such as cold-water corals. The clam’s scientific name, Acesta cryptadelphe, means “cryptic sibling”, which refers to the similarity in shape and structure to the previously described European giant file clam, Acesta excavata.

N.S. Fishing Safety Improvements Lead to Lowest WCB Rates in 12 Years

The 2016 employer rate announcement brings good news for the fishing industry, which will see its lowest rate since 2004. At $6.51 per $100 of assessment, the industry rate is decreasing 19 per cent in 2016.

“This strong drop in the overall industry rate demonstrates the safety progress we’ve seen firsthand over the past few years and have been hearing about from fishermen,” said Stuart MacLean, Workers Compensation Board (WCB) Nova Scotia CEO.

“Safety is becoming more of a priority and, as a result, claims costs are down, which is now having an impact on the rates paid by employers in this industry.”

For more than 10 years, rates in fishing have been steadily increasing, as a direct result of injury and tragedy at sea. The rate reached its highest point of $8.06 in 2015 due to the challenging 2013 year when eight lives were lost in fishing tragedies. In 2014, however, Nova Scotia’s fishing safety story started to change.

The Safe at Sea Alliance was formed and change that had been slowly starting to emerge gained momentum. Although payroll was up by 17 per cent that year, the number of days lost due to injury dropped 34 per cent — more than any other industry. The improved 2016 rate is a direct result of this progress.

“While this significant rate decrease is good news overall, the industry continues to have one of the highest rates, well above the WCB’s base employer rate of $2.65 per $100,” said MacLean.

“So there is still much more work to be done and the positive momentum needs to continue. The industry can’t stop now.”

Earlier this year, the Safe at Sea Alliance launched Fishing Safety Now, a plan by and for Nova Scotia’s fishing industry. The recommendations included in the plan are intended to help ensure these improvements continue, with fewer people getting injured and fewer lives lost in this industry.

Two industry-based groups — the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council and the Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia — are leading the plan implementation. Other fishing-related industries will also see rate decreases in 2016. Aquaculture and fish buyers are both down by 20 per cent to $3.04 and $2.55 respectively, while fish processing went down two per cent to a rate of $3.59 per $100.

St. John’s-Based Company Makes Industry Top 100 List

Kraken Sonar Inc. recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Kraken Sonar Systems Inc. has again been named by Marine Technology Reporter to the MTR 100 — a list of the 100 most influential companies in the international marine technology marketplace.

This is the third year in a row that Kraken has been selected for the list. Kraken was one of 12 Canadian companies named and the only company selected from Newfoundland.

Marine Technology Reporter is the world’s largest audited circulation magazine to cover the marine technology market. Each year the magazine evaluates and ranks marine technology companies worldwide to create the MTR 100 list.

In the July/August 2015 issue, Kraken and other companies were profiled as the leading companies serving today’s global marine technology industry.

Karl Kenny, President and CEO of Kraken said, “We’re thrilled about receiving this award and want to share it with our investors, our customers, and all our supporters. This award is a testament to the hard work of everyone at Kraken, and we intend to continue in a leadership role of helping to advance our industry. We extend our sincere appreciation to the editors and staff at Marine Technology Reporter for this wonderful recognition.”

Warm Gulf of Maine Waters Pushing New England Lobster North

The Associated Press recently reported that the lobster population has crashed to the lowest levels on record in southern New England, while increasing in the cold waters off Maine and other northern reaches — a move scientists attribute to the warming of the ocean.

In 2013, the number of adult lobsters in New England south of Cape Cod dropped to about 10 million, just one-fifth the total in the late 1990s, according to a report issued by regulators. The lobster catch in the region sank to about 3.3 million pounds in 2013, from a peak of about 22 million in 1997.

The declines are “largely in response to adverse environmental conditions, including increasing water temperatures over the last 15 years,” along with continued fishing, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission said in a summary of the report.

At a power plant in Long Island Sound, for example, there were more than 75 days with a recorded average water temperature above 68 degrees Fahrenheit in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the report said. Between 1976 and 2010, that happened only twice.

In northern regions, lobster catches are booming.

The population in the Gulf of Maine and the Georges Bank fishing grounds farther out to sea has reached record highs, more than doubling to about 250 million adult lobsters since the mid-1990s, the report said.

Maine fishermen have landed more than 100 million pounds of lobster for four years in a row, by far the highest four-year haul in the state’s history.

Southern Shore Company Receives Funding For Sea Cucumber Processing

Cape Broyle Sea Products Ltd. is receiving $30,157 through the N.L. Government’s Fisheries Technology and New Opportunities Program to help achieve efficiencies and long-term viability of its sea cucumber operation on Newfoundland’s southern shore.

This funding will allow the company to hire consultants to analyze current technologies and processes. This work will include:

  • Market analysis to determine detailed customer product specifications;
  • Physiological research and investigation of alternative sea cucumber processing methods to remove the tentacles;
  • Productivity evaluation to determine ways to streamline operations; and
  • Investigation of new processing technologies in other jurisdictions.

This money will help the company determine ways to improve upon current cutting equipment and tentacle removal options.

Regulations for N.S. Fish Harvesters Strengthened

Government is strengthening the regulations that govern Nova Scotia’s fish harvesters and their organizations.

“At the request of fish harvester organizations, we’ve made regulatory changes to provide fish harvesters with a clear understanding of their regulatory responsibilities,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell.

“This strengthens government’s ability to enforce the act on behalf of fish harvester organizations.”

Changes to the Fish Harvester Organizations Support Act include the addition of definitions for terms used in the act and regulations.

“Harvesters are very pleased with the clarifications to the regulations and even more pleased that the act is now being enforced to its full intent,” said Eugene O’Leary, president, Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association.

The act requires fish harvesters to pay mandatory dues to accredited associations. The provisions of this act come into force if harvesters vote to implement it in their region. Any licence holder in violation of the act can, upon summary conviction, be subject to fines starting at $1,000.

The act is in force in the three regions encompassing the coastline, from the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border on the Northumberland Strait to the mouth of the Sackville River in Halifax Harbour.

The Fish Harvester Organizations Support Act is provincial legislation that supports and encourages licence holders to develop strong organizations to represent them in matters related to the fishing industry.

European Top Court Maintains EU Ban On Seal Products

A European Union ban on imports of seal products not derived from the traditional Inuit seal hunt was upheld last month by the EU’s highest court.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice rejected an appeal brought by an association representing the interests of Canadian Inuits — Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami — and seal product manufacturers against a ruling from a lower court in 2013.

In September 2009, the European Parliament passed a regulation stating the trade in seal products protects the fundamental economic and social interests of Inuit communities which engage in the hunting of seals as an integral part of their culture and identity. On that basis, it in principle allows seal products to be placed on the EU market only where they result from hunts which are traditionally conducted by those communities and contribute to their subsistence — ultimately banning all other seal product imports.

That regulation was contested in an initial action, which the General Court dismissed as inadmissible in September 2011. An appeal was brought against that order before the Court of Justice, which dismissed it by judgment in October 2013.

The unsuccessful parties then brought an appeal against the General Court’s judgment before the Court of Justice.

With the September 3, 2015 judgment, the Court dismissed the appeal in its entirety.

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