On the Waterfront – September 2017

N.L. Fisheries Advisory Council Holds First Meeting

Newfoundland and Labrador’s newly formed Fisheries Advisory Council held its first meeting August 3, beginning its work to maximize the value of available fish resources to the provincial economy through a collaborative stakeholder approach.

The council will focus on both current and emerging strategic fisheries and aquaculture matters, including a new strategic action plan on cod revitalization that focuses on environmental sustainability, harvesting, processing, quality, innovation and marketing.

The recent meeting brought members together for the first time to introduce perspectives and discuss initial considerations. This included discussion of implications related to the development of an action plan on cod revitalization — an important first step in supporting the industry’s transition to groundfish.

The provincial Fisheries Advisory Council includes representation from all sectors, including the Fish, Food and Allied Workers, the Association of Seafood Producers, Seafood Processors of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Association, the Marine Institute and the general public. The federal department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also represented on the council with an ex-officio member.

“Today’s first meeting of the provincial Fisheries Advisory Council marked an important milestone for reinvigorating Newfoundland and Labrador’s seafood industry. We have weathered challenges and change before in this province, and we will do so again by coming together to develop a new strategy that responds to declining shellfish stocks with an industry-wide shift to rebounding groundfish resources,” stated the new Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, Gerry Byrne.

Snow Crab Fishery Closed to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales

On July 20, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the closure of snow crab Fishing Area 12 in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

This decision was made in an effort to protect North Atlantic right whales from risks posed by snow crab fishing gear in the area.

As of July 20, 98 per cent of the total allowable catch for snow crab in Area 12 has already been harvested.

“We understand the impact this could have on fishers. However, the recent whale mortalities in the area are unprecedented and this closure is an important measure to address the situation,” DFO said in a press release.

On July 19, 2017, an eighth North Atlantic right whale was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“While the entanglement of a whale is an extremely difficult and distressing situation, our first priority is the safety of those involved in marine mammal response. In light of last week’s tragic incident, DFO has paused right whale disentanglements while we review our policies and practices regarding responses to right whale entanglements. We are committed to a safe fishery and the protection, conservation and recovery of right whales.”

Police Lay Charge Stemming From April Protest at DFO Headquarters

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) said it is shocked to learn a charge has been laid against an inshore harvester from La Scie involved in an April demonstration at the St. John’s headquarters of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“Inshore harvesters have been driven to the point of protest by direct threats to their livelihoods,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “They should not be charged, especially after police said they wouldn’t be.”

“But like the promise made by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc that he would meet with hunger striker Richard Gillett, words these days appear to mean nothing.”

On April 7, about 50 inshore shrimp fishermen — members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Independent Fish Harvesters’ Association — went inside the federal building on White Hills Road to protest severe cuts to this year’s quota.

The protestors left after being given written assurances that their concerns would be taken into consideration. A window pane in one of the front doors was broken, but the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, who were on the scene at the time, said no charges would be laid.

Inshore fishermen Terry Ryan, a spokesman for the protesting fishermen, was contacted by the RCMP, on behalf of the RNC and charged with one count of mischief to federal government property during the April 7 protest. It isn’t known whether more harvesters will be charged.

“When authorities say charges won’t be laid — and then charges are laid — that sets a bad precedent for future protests because no one will believe them, and that’s just dangerous because there will be more protests,” says Cleary.

The quota for Shrimp Fishing Area 6 off southern Labrador and the Northern Peninsula has been set at 10,400 tonnes this year, less than quarter of the 2015 quota of 48,196 tonnes.

Maine Lobster Industry Gears up for Peak Season

As the Maine lobster season gets underway, the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) gears up for another season promoting Maine lobster and supporting the industry that is a key economic driver to the state.

Most of the MLMCs efforts to educate and influence chefs and culinary leaders happens during the summer and fall months when the catch is at its highest. Their work focuses on four key areas of the industry: sustainability, seasonality, origin and culinary versatility.

“When we put a lobsterman in front of a chef or someone from the media, its electric,” said Matt Jacobson, Executive Director of the MLMC. “The Maine lobster story resonates and by tying it back to these pillars, we’re making Maine lobster relevant to our core audiences by listening to what the market is looking for.”

This year a “Maine After Midnight” event for top chefs and media will be held in Chicago, San Francisco and New York to drive awareness for Maine lobster and the storied seafood. In each market the MLMC will also be hosting a “lunch and learn” session attended by local seafood purveyors to educate them on Maine lobster so they can share the information with their customers.

Efforts will continue throughout the rest of the year with chef and media trips to Maine, a culinary-focused digital campaign including video and visual content, ongoing media and chef engagement, and robust media and social amplification of National Lobster Day on September 25 — a nationally recognized holiday created by the MLMC to celebrate the season during peak harvest. The MLMC is also working to support marketing efforts overseas by developing educational materials in several different languages.

“Maine lobster isn’t a new product, but as an industry, we need to get people to think about it in new ways,” says Scout Wuerthner, General Manager at Inland Seafood. “As our catch continues to increase, it’s important that we find new ways to market and drive awareness, and targeting influential chefs and media is an effective way to spread the word.”

The MLMC was founded in 2013 and is funded by Maine lobster harvesters, dealers and processors. Maine lobster achieved the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2013, based on long-standing sustainable practices. The industry has been self-regulating for more than 150 years.

A Fisherman’s Trash is a Scientist’s Treasure

A lot of effort and expense goes into harvesting fish, but on average, only about 30-60 per cent of a fish is sold to consumers and ultimately used.

The rest is discarded in landfills or disposed of in the water from which it came.

Dr. Kelly Hawboldt, a researcher with the Ocean Frontier Institute and a professor in the Department of Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, at Memorial University, doesn’t like waste. Or rather, she doesn’t like to see fish wasted.

Dr. Hawboldt believes that by using science, the industry can extract value from fish waste by using it to create products consumers will not only demand, but will pay a premium for. This in turn would lead to new jobs and economic growth.

And because she’s a big proponent of sustainable business practices, her research is engaged in determining how new products made from fish by products can also reduce our environmental footprint.

China Buys 140,000 Canadian Lobsters in One Day

China’s immense consumer demand for fresh products was on display in July when the country’s largest retailer sold more than 140,000 live Canadian lobsters in a single day, reported Seafood.com.

In less than 48 hours, the lobsters were shipped and delivered.

In a joint promotion with the government of Canada and Canadian seafood exporters, JD.com sold the lobsters through its e-commerce platform on July 14. The shellfish are part of a new, specially curated selection of Canada’s best products that will be available over time on JD.com.

One of the Canadian vendors that participated in the lobster sale was Nathan Song, director at New Brunswick-based Bay Shore Lobster, who offered nine categories of lobsters, between one to nine pounds, for the JD.com promotion.

“We sold half of our entire inventory of 1 to 1.25-pound lobsters, far more than what we anticipated,” Song said. “It can be hard for people to understand just how much demand there is in China for fresh imported products. For some, it’s unfathomable. We originally expected our inventory to last through September, but we’ll sell out much sooner than that now. The industry will surely see prices go up.”

Overall interest in Canadian products has grown in popularity among Chinese consumers and JD.com has seen sales soaring as a result.

North Sea Cod Recovered and has MSC Label

North Sea cod is now sustainable and can be eaten with a clear conscience, the BBC reported recently.

The fish has been considered under threat for more than a decade after stocks fell to 36,000 tonnes in 2006.

But the industry has agreed to measures to help regenerate the population, including new nets and closing spawning areas to fishing.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) said it could now be sold with its blue tick label.

The label indicates that North Sea cod caught by Scottish and English boats is “sustainable and fully traceable.”

Cod stocks in the North Sea reached 270,000 tonnes in the 1970s. After the 2006 low, the fishing industry began work with the Scottish government and the EU Fisheries Council to agree a recovery plan.

The MSC said the announcement that cod was now sustainable was a “momentous achievement” for the industry and was the result of work of a coalition of fishing organizations, supermarkets, seafood brands and the industry association Seafish.

St. Andrews Biological Station Receives Funding

The federal government recently invested $8.9 million in the St. Andrews Biological Station, Atlantic Canada’s oldest marine research facility.

The investments continue to focus on upgrades to the laboratories to support ocean science research and improve the building’s accessibility, safety and security.

It was announced that 15 new scientists, biologists, hydrographers and other science professionals will be located at the Station. These new employees will support healthy fish stocks and ecosystems, and sustainable aquaculture. They will also do important work to help protect our marine environments and communities from the potential effects of oil spills and day-to-day vessel operations.

Some of these new employees will be hired under the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, which will improve marine safety and responsible shipping, and protect Canada’s coastal habitats, ecosystems and marine species. Others will be hired under the $197.1-million Budget 2016 investment in ocean and freshwater sciences.

Through the Oceans Protection Plan and Budget 2016 investments, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is hiring 254 science professionals across the country.

ISFF Seeking to Strengthen Tuna Conservation Efforts at IAATC

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) laid out some concerns at the recent 92nd Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting in Mexico City.

In a published position statement, the organization laid out five requests for the IATTC in 2017:

  1. Adopt effective and enforceable tuna conservation measures for all fleets to avoid an increase in fishing mortality.
  2. Develop harvest strategies for all key tuna species.
  3. Strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures to support data collection — and increase the observer coverage requirement for longline vessels.
  4. Strengthen fish aggregating devices (FADs) management through science-based measures.
  5. Strengthen the IATTC compliance assessment process.

The specific concern for fishing mortality comes after an increase in the “operative capacity of purse seine fleet,” which in April 2017 increased by 6.7 per cent in three years.

“We’re asking IATTC to avoid an increase in fishing mortality by extending the length of the purse seine fishery closure and/or extending the time/area closure known as ‘El Corralito,’ or by restricting fishing effort and evaluating the different scenarios for catch limits regarding monitoring and enforcement,” said ISSF President Susan Jackson in a statement.

“Such action must be complemented by harvest strategies; strengthened monitoring, control and surveillance tools; and science-based measure for management of and improved data collection regarding FADs.”

AquaBounty Acquires Fish Farming Facility in Indiana

AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. recently announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase certain assets of Bell Fish Company, including its farming facility in Albany, Indiana, for $14 million.

Ronald Stotish, Chief Executive Officer of AquaBounty, stated “This acquisition marks an important milestone and provides the company with its first commercial-scale facility in the United States for growing eco-friendly AquAdvantage Salmon. This site will enable production of healthy Atlantic salmon, which will not require vaccines or antibiotics, in a sustainable and responsible manner close to domestic consumers.”

The purchase will provide the company with a land-based, contained aquaculture system to grow AquAdvantage Salmon near major demand centres in the $2-billion U.S. Atlantic salmon market. The United States currently imports over 92 per cent of the farmed Atlantic salmon it consumes. AquAdvantage Salmon will offer the opportunity for a viable domestic aquaculture industry while providing consumers a fresh and delicious product.

If anticipated timelines are achieved, the facility’s first harvest could come as soon as the third quarter of 2019. This is significantly faster than other land-based facilities due to the quicker time to market for AquAdvantage Salmon. Once fully operational, the current facility will have an expected annual capacity of 1,200 metric tonnes, which at current Atlantic salmon prices, represents over $10 million a year in potential sales, with the possibility for future expansion.

AquaBounty continues to evaluate additional opportunities for larger production facilities in both the United States and Canada.

Government of Canada Invests in South-East New Brunswick Fishing Harbours

The Government of Canada recently announced it is investing $6.9 million this year to carry out projects at several small craft harbours in southeast New Brunswick.

This includes an investment at Cap-des-Caissie as part of a two-year project for the construction of a marginal wharf, launching ramp and installation of electrical services.

Other projects being carried out at small craft harbours in south-east New Brunswick include:

  • Barre-de-Cocagne (Cormierville) — Removal of a deteriorated wharf and construction of a new marginal wharf and construction of a cement deck on a wharf
  • Cap-de-Saint-Louis — Annual channel maintenance dredging
  • Cap-Lumière (Richibucto Cape) — Construction of a new wharf and annual channel maintenance dredging
  • Cap-Pelé — Installation of rock protection around the wharf
  • Chockpish (Côte-Sainte-Anne) — Annual channel maintenance dredging
  • Les Aboiteaux (Cap-Pelé) — Completion of a two-year project to dredge the basin and annual channel maintenance dredging
  • Petit-Cap — Construction of a new marginal wharf and ramp
  • Richibucto — Safety repairs to a section of the wharf
  • Saint-Édouard-de Kent — Annual channel maintenance dredging

These projects are in addition to wharf reconstruction projects that were recently completed at Botsford, Richibucto and Petit-Cap (Phase 1) for a total of $5.7 million.

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