Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program to Open August 24
On August 5, Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced that the much-anticipated Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program will open for applications on August 24, 2020, through to September 21, 2020.
In May, the Government of Canada announced $469.4 million in funding to establish the new Fish Harvester Benefit and the new Fish Harvester Grant. This is the single largest investment in Canada’s fisheries in nearly two decades.
The Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program was designed to work within the unique pay structures and seasonal nature of the fishing sector. It will help to ensure that Canada’s hardworking fish harvesters get the financial support they need right now, while also positioning the sector for a strong recovery in the long-term.
“Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada have worked hard to ensure that detailed information about the application process is accessible in advance of its opening,” the department said in a press release.
Detailed information is available now to ensure that all interested parties are prepared to apply on August 24.
All harvesters wishing to apply should visit the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website to determine if they are eligible and find out what documentation is required to complete the application process.
“Our fisheries are a driving force in Canada’s economy. They are vital to our country’s food chain, and an integral part of the culture and way of life for coastal communities. The Government of Canada will continue to support fish and seafood harvesters because when our fisheries thrive, all of Canada benefits.”
“Our fisheries operate under a unique structure and have faced distinct challenges throughout this pandemic. That’s exactly why we created the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program — to meet those needs head-on. We’ve been working around the clock to develop a simple, accessible system to deliver over $469 million to Canada’s fish harvesters as smoothly and quickly as possible. That’s why it was important for us to announce this in advance of August 24, to ensure applicants have time to prepare. Our goal is, and has always been, to get the hardworking women and men of Canada’s fisheries the support they need, and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do,” explained Jordan.
Fishing Accident Claims Life of N.L. Harvester
A 49-year-old fisherman is dead following a July 28 accident off Sally’s Cove, on the west coast of Newfoundland.
At 9:53 p.m., July 28, the Bonne Bay RCMP detachment reported to the Canadian Coast Guard that two persons in a 21-foot open-boat fishing vessel were reported overdue.
At 10:30 a.m., July 29, the Canadian Coast Guard lifeboat CCGS Cape Norman recovered a man from the water, alive and responsive. A Canadian Forces Cormorant assisted with the recovery and transport of the person to hospital.
Shortly afterwards, the second man was located and was found to be unresponsive. CBC has identified the victim as Todd McLean of Green Island Cove, on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.
Coast Guard reported that the last communication with them was approximately 6:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning, July 28.
They were expected to return to their homeport of Sally’s Cove by 2 p.m. but did not arrive. Search and rescue activities commenced immediately, with a mayday broadcast issue by the Marine Communications and Traffic Centre in Port aux Basques.
The CCGS Cape Fox from Lark Harbour, the CCGS Cape Norman from Port aux Choix, a Cormorant helicopter from 103 Squadron in Gander, a Hercules aircraft from CFB Greenwood, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and a Provincial Airlines Speedair participated in the search. JRCC Halifax assisted MRSC St. John’s in search planning efforts.
The investigation into the accident is ongoing.
Union Upset Over Yellowtail Quota Transfer
The union representing fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador is crying foul after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) extended a deal signing over 1,000 metric tonnes of yellowtail flounder to the United States, while continuing to allocate none of the country’s resource to inshore fish harvesters in the province.
“Despite FFAW-Unifor’s consistent lobbying and disagreement with the transfer of valuable quotas out of Canada each year, the inshore fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador has no access to the yellowtail quota,” explained FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
“The federal government should not be handing over yellowtail to another country while Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters have no access to the resource. It is the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to reallocate the quota in order to give inshore harvesters access,” Sullivan said.
Yellowtail flounder is a stock managed by the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). Canada has been allocated a quota of 16,575 metric tonnes for 2020.
In 2008, the Canadian government made a 10-year deal signing over 1,000 tonnes of yellowtail to the United States each year. The remainder of the Canadian quota is harvested by offshore companies and significant portions have not been harvested in recent years, despite capacity for inshore harvesters to participate in the harvest.
“Moreover, Canada has deviated from the country-to-country transfer system in recent years to a system where corporations are permitted to negotiate and transfer quotas to foreign countries and other companies outside of the NAFO negotiation process. Such transfers are generally not discussed at the annual meeting and inshore harvesters’ opinions are not given consideration when these transfers are rubber-stamped. DFO officials informed FFAW-Unifor last fall that there are no plans to reallocate this quota and if inshore harvesters want access, they must make a deal with offshore companies. Rather than protect the owner-operator fleet and reduce inequities in resource allocations, these backroom deals directed by our federal government exacerbate the frustrations felt by inshore harvesters,” the union explained in a press release.
“The federal government must work harder to live up to the commitment made in Canada’s new Fisheries Act, which states our federal government must promote and protect inshore fisheries. This has not been a consideration for Canada at NAFO and this must change. Inshore fish harvesters will need access to the resources off our shores to ensure vibrant coastal communities,” added Sullivan.
Nova Scotia Government Approves Net-Pen Leases
Following concerns from residents and organizations surrounding lease renewals of open net-pen aquaculture in Liverpool and Port Mouton, Nova Scotia, the province’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA) still approved renewals in mid-July, Seafoodnews.com reported.
In recent weeks, the Healthy Bays Network (HBN), an alliance of community stewardship groups and environmental organizations across Nova Scotia, put together a number of public letters/comments which were not in the statement from the DFA regarding the renewals for the Port Mouton Bay and Liverpool Bay fish farms.
The HBN found that most of the submissions were excluded from the Department’s decision process because respondents did not include their phone numbers, despite e-mail addresses and civic addresses attached, according to a press release from the Ecology Action Centre.
“The exclusion of public submissions in the decision documents calls into question the basis for the renewal of these leases and licences for lengthy terms,” said Dalhousie University biologist Inka Milewski, whose submission was omitted from the Port Mouton decision record.
“By excluding our comments from the decision record, DFA is hiding local knowledge from the public and undermining their own commitment to transparency and meaningful public engagement.”
With the exclusions, worries raised by the District 33 Lobster Advisory Board, representing more than 700 lobster fishermen in the area, the Harbour Authority of Moose Harbour and at least one scientist with primary research experience in Port Mouton were disregarded.
“It’s a bad process and it looks like a biased process,” said Brian Muldoon of the Protect Liverpool Bay Association.
“First, the DFA buries the request for public comment four or five clicks into their website, with no accompanying announcement, and then, over a missing phone number, chooses to exclude submissions from community members commenting on the site? That’s wrong. These are people who care about these bays and they deserve a say.”
The HBN has now called on the DFA to revoke the renewals for both sites.
“We can’t make decisions about what happens in our public waterways like this,” said Simon Ryder-Burbidge of the Ecology Action Centre. “The DFA has committed to open and transparent engagement processes. This dismissal of legitimate public concern is definitely not okay. If they ever want to establish public trust, they should toss these decisions and do this again properly.”
Quebec Snow Crab Industry Receives Financial Support
Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Quebec’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne, recently announced joint financial assistance to two groups in the crab fishing industry.
The UMEK Group will receive financial support of up to $499,580 from the Quebec Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Ministry (MAPAQ) and $147,284 in financial assistance from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The UMEK Group is a consortium comprising a majority of Indigenous shareholders and is the processing plant’s owner since 2005.
The financial support will be significant for the company since these investments will increase its productivity and profitability and will be a further step towards the complete modernization of the production line undertaken by the UMEK Group in recent years.
This funding will support a project to automate its snow crab packing line, which will allow it to pack continuously, without slowing down the pace of the processing line. The project also aims to automate the washing process of the cooking tanks during snow crab processing to reduce process water use by 86 per cent.
This project is made possible through DFO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program (FACTAP) and a MAPAQ Financial Support Program for the Development of the Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector.
The Association québécoise de l’industrie de la pêche (AQIP) will receive financial support totalling $976,500 as part of the Quebec Fisheries Fund (QFF). The QFF is a contribution program jointly funded by DFO and MAPAQ to support the Quebec fish and seafood sector. DFO contributes 70 per cent of this amount, or $683,550, and MAPAQ contributes 30 per cent, or $292,950. This assistance will be used to develop a prototype snow crab section classification system. The new equipment will use state-of-the-art vision and X-ray systems.
The Association québécoise de l’industrie de la pêche is a non-profit organization founded in June 1978 by marine product processing companies in Quebec’s maritime regions.
The AQIP project will be tested at the UMEK plant and has a number of objectives, including design of modern equipment that integrates imaging and weight-based decision making, decreasing labour requirements, increasing productivity of operations on the sorting line, standardization of sorting by applying objective criteria, standardization of the finished product, elimination of human handling and redistribution of labour to tasks where it is essential. The results of the testing will be made available to other marine product processing plants.
Quin-Sea Fisheries Launches Newfoundland Lobsters Brand
Royal Greenland subsidiary Quin-Sea Fisheries recently launched its Newfoundland Lobsters website, a brand dedicated to the sale of live lobsters across Canada.
Over the past two years, Quin-Sea has invested in the sale and marketing of Newfoundland-caught lobsters across Canada and the globe. Prior to this endeavor, Quin-Sea noted its work to transform an aging crab plant in New Harbour, N.L. into a modern live-lobster holding facility.
The transformation has allowed for the shipping of lobsters across the world during times when lobster typically isn’t available.
As the company faced impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic with markets close to home and thousands of miles away negatively impacted and travel restrictions limiting shipments, the Newfoundland Lobsters brand was created to sell lobster to the Canadian market, a low-risk option for the company during the pandemic.
“In crisis situations, we as humans learn quickly to adapt and the sooner you accept the world has changed the quicker you will be able to move in another direction of what you had originally planned,” Quin-Sea Managing Director, Simon Jarding told Seafoodnews.com.
“A few weeks into the pandemic, we realized that if we were going to take advantage of our new lobster facility, we needed to change focus on the market.”
The new brand will provide Canadians with fresh, live and easily accessible lobster with the website targeting restaurants across the country, with an offer to provide delivery in 24 hours or less.
“We will make it easy for restaurants to serve the best quality lobster you can find on the market,” Jarding said. “If Canadians can’t make it to Newfoundland this summer, we will bring Newfoundland to them.”
The company also noted investment in other lobster facilities in the province in Conche and Southern Harbour. The investment focused on upgrading both factories to allow for processing whole frozen and cooked lobster. It also noted its work to launch a lobster fishery improvement project over the last two years which is now being facilitated by the Association of Seafood Producers.
N.L. Government Funds Fisheries-Related Projects
In late July, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced a $400,000-seafood marketing and innovation fund that will support the marketing of seafood products for retail and establish other markets for seafood sales in light of the impact of COVID-19 on restaurant sales.
This funding is aimed at helping create jobs in N.L.’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors and help processors and aquaculture operators expand their product lines and markets.
This one-time fund will help seafood sales rebound by allowing companies to identify new markets, adapt their existing products to new markets, and develop products and markets to meet changing customer needs.
This initiative is part of a plan to support renewable resource-based businesses and employment in rural communities during the COVID-19 global pandemic through investments in the forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Applications and information for the seafood marketing and innovation fund can be accessed on the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources website.
Earlier in the month, the N.L. government also announced it was entering into a strategic partnership with the province’s seafood industry to investigate the feasibility of live holding, cold storage and transportation opportunities for fresh and live seafood products for national and international markets.
It announced $100,000 to determine the feasibility of establishing seafood live holding and cold-storage logistics at Gander Airport and Port aux Basques. This funding supports efforts to create jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors and assists processors and aquaculture operators to expand their product lines and markets.
Live holding and cold-storage capacity strategically located at Gander Airport and Port aux Basques could enable air shipment and delivery of fresh and live seafood products to Canadian, U.S., European and Asian markets and provide as-needed holding for product stranded in Port aux Basques due to weather conditions.