On the Waterfront – September 2022

Harvesters Call on DFO for Investment in Mackerel Science

The Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) is once again calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to invest in new science opportunities for mackerel given the signs of abundance reported by harvesters and the inadequate level of current surveys completed by the federal government.

Earlier this year, the Minister responsible for Fisheries and Oceans, Joyce Murray, called a moratorium on mackerel.

The FFAW says it was a drastic step given the positive signs of growth and the Union’s repeated requests for additional assessment surveys.

“FFAW-Unifor has been advocating for additional mackerel research for several years as a result of the important changes observed in distribution and spawning patterns that are not accounted for by DFO’s current surveys. However, the department has failed to address these concerns or take advantage of new stock survey opportunities. Current assessments and management plans have not reflected the significant knowledge of fish harvesters, and their observations of changing distribution, abundance and growth, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador waters,” the union explained in a press release.

“Announcing a moratorium on the mackerel fishery without investing in new science opportunities is one more example of how DFO would rather eliminate livelihoods rather than do the work that needs to be done. DFO is continually failing to adequately assess species that are critical to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

The union noted that at a time when harvesters should be getting ready to go fishing, they are witnessing levels of mackerel previously unseen in areas like the Strait of Belle Isle, where large numbers of mackerel are visible from the surface.

“As harvesters, we know that DFO is significantly underestimating the biomass of mackerel. We recognize that anecdotal evidence is not always enough and so year after year we’ve proposed science projects that would prove what we’re seeing on the water. But our government would rather sacrifice our livelihoods than do the work needed to better understand this stock,” says Trevor Jones, 3K fish harvester from La Scie.

“Minister Murray must commit to understanding this stock with comprehensive scientific assessments. The current understanding of mackerel is woefully inadequate, and we cannot let another season go by without taking action,” Sullivan noted.



MI Announces New Aquaculture Graduate Diploma

The Fisheries and Marine Institute’s School of Fisheries has launched a new graduate diploma in Marine Studies (Aquaculture), advancing degree-holding students to leadership roles in the Canadian and global aquaculture industries.

“The aquaculture industry is expanding as the demand for food proteins increases worldwide,” said Dr. Jillian Westcott, instructor and academic director/graduate officer for the new program.

“To further the professional practice of aquaculture, it is essential to offer a program that increases the number of highly trained practitioners in the field with knowledge and operational skills in production, management and governance.”

Beginning fall 2022, the institute’s School of Fisheries will enroll students to specialize in aquaculture development, practice and management in a multi-disciplinary program that offers current and relevant knowledge combined with technical and practical experience.

The program of six courses focuses on current topics in aquaculture, finfish and shellfish aquaculture, animal health, fish nutrition and feeding practice, and engineering technology and systems operation. Students will also participate in a 12-week internship at the end of their course work, to apply their industry-ready knowledge and skills in aquaculture companies and related employers across Canada and abroad.

The graduate diploma can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Each year, two seats will be designated for students meeting the program entry requirements and who self-identify as Indigenous.

“Our program will provide a solid foundation in environmental stewardship, sustainability, animal health and husbandry, nutrition and feeding, aquaculture engineering and systems operation, and farming technology and techniques,” explained Dr. Westcott. “It’s also important to ensure our graduates are well equipped to collaborate and communicate with diverse aquaculture stakeholder and community groups to achieve common goals.”

Students will be mentored by faculty with extensive experience and close links to the aquaculture industry. They will also have access to a modern freshwater aquaculture facility, food science, biology and microbiology labs, and engineering technology workshops on campus.

Graduates of the aquaculture graduate diploma can pursue employment at marine and freshwater aquaculture farms and hatcheries, aquaculture advisory agencies, government departments or research and academia. They may also wish to pursue subsequent master’s level programming at Memorial University, such as the master of science in sustainable aquaculture.



NOAA Declares Unusual Mortality Event for Seals in Maine

An unusual mortality event for seals in Maine has been declared by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries.

Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoME), a NOAA Fisheries authorized marine mammal stranding network partner, reported that it has responded to an elevated number of stranded seals since the beginning of June 2022.

Most of the seals stranded were found dead, but those who were alive had symptoms including lethargy, coughing, discharge from the eyes and nose and seizures. These strandings mainly occurred along the southern and central coast of Maine from Biddeford to Boothbay. A total of 150 seals have been reported since July 18, 2022.

Further investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed that samples from four stranded seals in Maine tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1, a zoonotic disease that has the potential to spread between animals and people.

HPAI H5N1 was first detected in early 2021, but wasn’t detected in Maine waterfowl until February 2022. The disease has since been confirmed in 41 U.S. states, as well as 11 provinces and territories in Canada.

The CDC says that the health risk to the general public is low, but still recommends that people take precautions. The public is encouraged not to touch ill, stranded or floating dead seals and to call their local stranding network organization to report any live or dead stranded seals. NOAA says that they are working with local, state, tribal, federal and international partners as appropriate in the investigation of HPAI in seals.

A recent die-off of seabirds in coastal areas of southern Newfoundland is also being blamed on the avian flu.



Funding for MPA in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently announced $7.46 million over four years to support co-management activities with the Inuvialuit for both the Tarium Niryutait and Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR).

This funding will support employment opportunities in all the communities associated with the MPAs.

Western Arctic Oceans Day is an annual celebration co-hosted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. The celebration rotates through the six communities of the ISR. This day is an opportunity to celebrate the unique ties that northern Indigenous communities have with the waterways of their traditional territories.

A co-management agreement was negotiated with the Joint Secretariat of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region on behalf of the Fisheries Joint Management Committee and the Inuvialuit Game Council.

Located in the Mackenzie River Delta and estuary in the Beaufort Sea, Tarium Niryutait MPA (TN MPA) was Canada’s first Arctic MPA. The large freshwater influences from the Mackenzie River Estuary and marine influences from the Beaufort Sea make the TN MPA an important summer habitat for the Eastern Beaufort Sea beluga and a diverse range of fish species.

Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam Marine Protected Area (ANMPA) was established in 2016 to maintain the habitat to support populations of key species (such as beluga whales, Arctic char, and ringed and bearded seals). This was the first MPA to have a conservation objective based solely on Indigenous traditional and local knowledge.



N.L. Government Helps Clean Harbours Initiative

The Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Government recently announced $20,000 to support the Clean Harbours Initiative, through ACAP Humber Arm, to complete the retrofitting of the organization’s boat to help with underwater marine debris clean-up throughout the province.

Established in 2018, Clean Harbours Initiative has been raising awareness and taking action to address the issue of ocean trash.

“The work of Clean Harbours Initiative is incredibly important, not just from an environmental perspective, but to support efforts to build vibrant, sustainable communities throughout the province. The remarkable work and success to date in removing trash from harbours is helping to create communities where people want to live, work and raise a family,” explained N.L. Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs Krista Lynn Howell.

Photo courtesy of www.facebook.com/CleanHarboursInitiative

In just four years, the initiative has resulted in the removal of approximately 200,000 pounds of ocean trash, including just over 3,000 car tires and over 35 ghost nets.

To expand this work, Clean Harbours Initiative is retrofitting and converting its boat to be able to increase the amount of trash collected per day by approximately 33 per cent. Through funding provided by the Provincial Government, this retrofit is now complete.

“On behalf of Clean Harbours Initiative, we would like to thank the Provincial Government and ACAP Humber Arm for once again working together to help us to acquire another essential piece of equipment needed to increase the amount of ocean trash we are able to recover,” said Shawn Bath, founder of the Clean Harbours Initiative.

“With potential leaching of chemicals and toxins, destruction of habitat, ingestion and entanglement, subsurface marine debris poses serious detrimental threats to our coastal environments and marine life. We are pleased to see the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recognize that this is not an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue, and support the work of ACAP Humber Arm, Clean Harbour Initiative, and other like-minded organizations as we attempt to restore our near shore coastal environments and educate to prevent re-accumulation of subsurface marine debris,” added Sheldon Peddle, Executive Director, ACAP Humber Arm.



New Festival Celebrates N.L. World-Class Seafood

As part of Come Home 2022, Legendary Coasts of Eastern Newfoundland and Jeremy Charles will host the first-ever Deep Blues Seafood Festival in Old Perlican from August 19–21.

A one-of-a-kind culinary experience, the Deep Blues Seafood Festival will bring together local and international chefs from Europe, the United States and Canada to celebrate the world-class seafood available in Newfoundland and Labrador alongside the soulful sounds of a collection of blues artists curated by Dennis Parker.

The Deep Blues Seafood Festival will feature four events over three days. These events include the Friday Kickoff Party at the Old Perlican Ballpark, the Shoreline Pop-ups on Old Perlican Island and the Skerwink Trail, Deep Blue Saturday at the Old Perlican Ballpark and Beach Brunch at Cooks Cove.

Tickets are on sale today and can be purchased online. For more information about the festival, please visit the Deep Blues Seafood Festival website.

“There is no shortage of local ingredients to be celebrated in Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s a unique larder filled with endless possibilities, the best seafood, to wild game, to the foraged ingredients covering our coasts and forests. There is nothing better than sharing a meal with friends and family outside over an open fire with ingredients that came directly from the ocean while someone plays a few tunes. As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and people from all over the world come home to our province, the Deep Blues Seafood Festival will invite them to celebrate our unique food, music and culture,” explained Charles.



Vericatch Lobster Electronic Logbook Receives Certification

A Vancouver-based company’s electronic logbook (ELOG) recently received certification by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Vericatch announced that it has been working toward this certification in close consultation with DFO to ensure its fisheries app, ELOGS, meet both DFO’s requirements and lobster fishermen’s needs.

“We’re excited to be the first national fisheries software in Canadian history to be certified by the DFO,” says Max Vanry, senior product manager.

“We’ve been fine tuning our software for over a decade, we’ve met the DFO’s requirements and we’re ready for lobster fishers to start using our ELOGS immediately. What makes Vericatch unique is that we don’t just offer compliance reporting, our goal is to make tools that are useful to fishermen beyond just regulatory requirements.”



Cooke Seafood Expands Saint John Headquarters

Cooke Seafood recently announced that it will be expanding its global head office operations and move into an 11,000-square-foot space in the Brunswick Square Office Tower, located at One Germain Street, Saint John, New Brunswick.

The new Cooke space will initially accommodate approximately 60 employees from the company’s IT, enterprise resource planning and administrative departments, according to a press release from the company.

“Saint John is a city of opportunity, and we are thrilled to see so many successful local companies, including Cooke, a world leader in its industry, thriving and growing here at home,” said Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon.

“Employees are returning to their workplaces, post-pandemic, in the heart of our uptown, giving a renewed sense of vibrancy, excitement and opportunity. We see it in all directions, through the friendly interactions on the streets, shopping in our local stores, boutiques and markets, and the joy experienced at our public events and concerts. There is something for everyone in Saint John.”

Cooke highlighted its renovations to the former synagogue at 76 Carleton Street, which it converted into three floors of office spaces and meeting rooms. The company said it has outgrown that space and the new office space was necessary. Cooke also said its Cooke Aquaculture Inc., the company’s North American salmon farming division, will continue to be headquartered in Blacks Harbour, N.B.

Cooke has operations in 10 countries and employs 10,000 across the globe. In New Brunswick, Cooke employs over 1,500 people and is looking to fill positions in various roles.

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