Category Archives: Canada

Fisheries groups upset over seismic testing approval, may have ‘incredible impact’ on marine environment

Just a few months after DFO cut crab quotas, now the oil and gas industry may be interfering with the livelihoods of harvesters, according to fisheries unions. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has approved offshore seismic testing to take place in prime fishing areas on the Grand Banks. The board approved the request from Multi Klient Invest AS (MKI) for three-dimensional seismic testing in two areas from mid-July to mid-October and from mid-July to the end of August. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) issued a press release on Friday, calling on the petroleum board to reconsider its decision.,,, Ryan Cleary wrote the C-NLOPB at the end of June, asking to suspend seismic testing in order to study its impact on marine life. click here to read the story 08:50

It’s not all about cod and crab – Whelk, toad crab, monkfish among species that are bringing new revenue into N.L.’s seafood industry

There are plenty of fish in the sea … but can we make a buck fishing them? Fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador are rethinking the resources at their disposal, given collapsing quotas for crab and shrimp, and a cod stock that has not yet recovered enough for a full commercial fishery. “You need to be in four to five fisheries to add up to what we had when we had the crab,” said Winston Pitcher, who has had his individual crab quota go down by 80 per cent over the past seven years. To make up for it, he’s got licences for four other species: sea cucumbers, whelk, scallops, and bluefin tuna. click here to read the story 20:15

Waste not, want not: Would you wear shoes made of fish?

A look at Jamie-Lee Cormier’s brightly coloured leather earrings and bracelets reveals something unexpected: the leather has scales. That’s because it’s made with Newfoundland cod leather. “Everyone’s always really amazed when they see it,” said the crafts producer who sells her products online. Though it may seem weird to Cormier’s Canadian customers, fish leather has been making a splash on international runways for a few years. Christian Dior, Prada and Nike have all been experimenting with fish leather products, from shoes to handbags. It’s part of a growing worldwide movement to reduce waste in commercial fisheries and to make more money using less fish. Biodiesel made from seal oil? click here to read the story 10:49

Shadow markets mask the size of China’s demand for lobster

The Chinese appetite for North American lobster is well known and getting bigger every year, but it may be twice as big as previously believed. That’s because there is a lot more lobster ending up on Chinese dinner plates than what Canada and the U.S. send over. Researchers think there is even more North American lobster being traded along indirect and sometimes shadowy routes through other places in Asia, like Hong Kong and Vietnam, that eventually ends up as luxury eats for China’s growing middle class. click here to read the story 09:54

Letter: Fish union failing members on crucial issues

I wish to respond to Lana Payne’s June 24th column (“Austerity should be on trial”). I have no problem with the opinion piece — austerity, no doubt, had a hand in the recent tragic high-rise fire in London, England. But while austerity should be on trial in Europe, FFAW-Unifor was actually before the courts right here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Payne, Unifor’s Atlantic director, ignored the elephant on the wharf — as has the province’s Federation of Labour and every other union leader in the province, and country. It’s unprecedented for a Canadian union to have deceived its members, which is exactly what happened with scallop harvesters in the Strait of Belle Isle. click here to read the letter 19:48

Eastern Cape Breton lobster season looking good despite rough start

Rough weather delayed the opening of the lobster fishing season off eastern Cape Breton and a nasty spring storm three days later destroyed hundreds of traps up and down the island’s Atlantic coast. Despite those setbacks and the financial cost of replacing traps that can cost up to $100 or more apiece, fishermen are likely to have a profitable season by the time it ends on July 17 thanks to high landings and fair prices, said Herb Nash, a lobster fisherman out of Glace Bay. “After the first week and a half and we got straightened away, the season has really been excellent,” he told Local Xpress. “It’s one of the best seasons ever.” The lobster season in eastern Cape Breton waters normally runs May 15 to July 15, but after two days of stormy weather at the beginning delayed the opening, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans agreed to extend the fishery the same amount. However, strong winds and heavy rains May 20 kept boats tied up and left beaches along the coast littered with traps, many containing lobsters that were unsalvageable. click here to read the story 12:11

Baby lobster abundance suggests strong harvests will continue

Lobster fishermen and government officials are seeing indications are that lobster stocks will be plentiful in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the next few years at least. Fishermen have been reporting a lot of smaller lobsters in their traps this year, which Fisheries and Oceans Canada preliminary monitoring has confirmed. Amelie Rondeau of Fisheries and Oceans said the abundance of lobsters has been building in the last five years, with lobster landings going up as well. “All the stars are aligned: favourable environmental conditions, combined with proper management of the stocks,” said Rondeau. click here to read the story 14:01

7th right whale found dead in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The carcass of a seventh North Atlantic right whale has been found off the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, reports Radio-Canada. The Canadian Coast Guard discovered the dead whale near Havre-Aubert on Wednesday night. Quebec’s marine mammal research network, known by its French initials GREMM, confirmed to CBC’s French-language service that it was not previously aware of the carcass. Tonya Wimmer, with the Marine Animal Response Society, said the whale is a male, and it was badly decomposed. She also said it isn’t clear yet what caused the whale’s death, The Canadian Press reported. click here to read the story 13:06

Fishing groups say lobster fishery would be better off with industry-led by-catch monitoring system as opposed to something DFO imposes

If the reality is that it’s coming anyway, three local fisheries organizations say fishermen and industry would be better off to handle it themselves as opposed to having it handed down by DFO. Such is the case with a proposal that could see by-catch monitoring happen in the lobster fishery by the fall of 2018. Three local organizations – Coldwater Lobster Association, the Maritime Fishermen’s Union and the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisheries Association – have joined efforts to get the message out that industry is willing to develop a monitoring system that would be better for the fishery in terms of cost and time.,,, Another proposal being thrown around is cameras on fishing boats. These three associations are all strongly opposed to such a Big Brother approach, saying not only would it be extremely expensive, but it would not generate any useful scientific data. click here to read the story 11:16

Robots used to cut crab may actually help keep processing jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador

The world’s first full-on crab plant robot sits inside a tall, plastic chamber roughly the size of a shipping container. A conveyer belt carries the splayed crab into the chamber, where a robotic scoops them up and places them on one of two plastic saddles. And then the blade descends.  The legs tumble into a grey plastic tub below, sorted, sectioned and ready to go. The machine was unveiled this spring, developed by Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation, in partnership with Ocean Choice International and the Marine Institute.  Its functions are simple — cut the crab in half, or remove its legs — but its impact could be enormous. Its designers are also hoping it will solve a few workforce problems in fish plants caused by changing demographics in rural Newfoundland. click here to read the story 08:52

Preliminary findings of necropsies -Two whales suffered blunt trauma, another killed by fishing gear

Injuries suffered by at least two of six North Atlantic right whales found floating lifeless in the Gulf of St. Lawrence appear to be consistent with ship strikes, marine mammal experts say. Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society said Tuesday that the preliminary findings of necropsies on three of the whales indicate that two of them sustained blunt traumas that caused extensive bruising along their sides and internal hemorrhaging. A third died after becoming snarled in fishing rope that wrapped around one flipper and inside its mouth. click here to read the story ,,,, Whale deaths raise concern – The first dead whale spotted on June 6 was a 10-year-old male who was last seen in Cape Cod Bay on April 23 by the Center for Coastal Studies. The elapsed time between those sightings was only about six weeks. The other identified dead whales included two adult males, at least 17 and 37 years old, and a highly valuable 11-year-old female. Through DNA analysis, two of the males were known to have sired calves. The two remaining unidentified whales were a male and a female. click here to read the story 14:11

Cod salvation and devilish interference

The more people I talk to about the fishery the more I become convinced that there are three root causes of the reoccurring catastrophes in the fishing industry. Those causes are corporate profits, election votes and union agendas. Combined, they add up to political interference. We have been digging and tunnelling for hundreds of years but we still have more non-renewable resources left under the ground than we have renewable resources left under the water. What does that tell us about our track record on managing our renewable resources? Click here to read the op-ed by Harvey Jarvis, Portugal Cove–St. Philip’s  11:11

What if the cod came back? The push to reinvent Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishery

If you want to find out if there’ll ever be a vibrant, successful commercial cod fishery off Newfoundland and Labrador again, start with the guy whose boat sank in some of the most formidable waters in the country. “Groundfish is not coming back, it is back,” says Brad Watkins, who is determined to be at the vanguard of a reimagined cod business. Two years ago, his boat, the Atlantic Charger, sank in the frigid waters of Frobisher Bay, off the coast of Nunavut, nearly costing the lives of the nine men on board. Despite that severe setback, Watkins is back in the game, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in state-of-the-art fishing gear and capitalizing on easy-on-the-ocean technology. click here to read the story 08:58

EDITORIAL: It’s time to share marine protection

Nova Scotia has already paid an upfront price for being an environmental pioneer. So it’s time to carefully consider the long-term impact of the aggressive implementation of new environmental measures and policies, including the creation of additional Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recently announced the boundaries of the new St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Areas, offshore Cape Breton. Roughly 4,400 acres in size, it will be forbidden ground for oil and gas activity. Limited commercial fishing will be allowed on about 25 per cent of the area. MPAs are rightly seen as ocean regenerators, areas in which marine ecosystems can thrive, and fish habitat can be protected.  That’s all good.  What’s puzzling is that little Nova Scotia, with its ocean-dependent economy, is being asked to bear a disproportionate share of the burden for Canada’s MPA initiative.  click here to read the story 12:48

That sky keeps on falling. Apparently the anti-fishing foundation funding doesn’t follow suit.

Nils Stolpe FishNet-USA – “New research shows that industrial fisheries are responsible for dumping nearly 10 million tons of perfectly good fish back into the ocean each year—enough to fill 4,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This news comes at a time when nearly 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are threatened by overfishing.” (click here) This is from the latest bit of “fishing is ruining the oceans” alarmism, this time in a paper published in Fish and fisheries reporting on research funded by the Pew connected Sea Around Us. Sounds kind of awful, doesn’t it? Thousands of “Olympic-sized” swimming pools filled to the brim with dead and dying fish and shellfish, totally wasted and evidently rotting in the sun. But as is so often the case, with a little bit of perspective the truth isn’t anywhere nearly as catastrophic as the anti-fishing claque would have you believe. click here to read the story 09:46

‘This place was cod’

If you took a drive through Port Union in the 1980s, you would have had to slow down driving past the fish plant.  In those days, over 1000 people worked at the plant — then owned by Fishery Products International (FPI) — and vehicles filled the plant parking lot and lined both sides of the road. With three shifts, working day and night, the plant was operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, processing cod fish landed by the FPI offshore trawlers. Back then the plant was operating almost 52 weeks of the year, with a 10-day shutdown during Christmas when the trawlers came in for the holidays. An estimated 1,400 workers in that area alone were directly affected by the closure of the cod fishery in 1992. Darryl Johnson was one of them. click here to read the story 12:03

25 Years ago Today – The Northern Cod Moratorium

Sunday, July 2, marks a quarter of a century since then federal fisheries minster John Crosbie announced what was planned to be a two-year moratorium on the northern cod fishery. It continues on today, though it has often seemed lost in the wake of a lucrative crab and shrimp fishery that remarkably saved the industry and many communities. But back in 1992, a province settled and built on the back of the mighty cod fishery — a renewable resource if properly taken care of — was knocked off course with the swipe of a pen. Some fishermen tried to knock down the doors to the hotel conference room in St. John’s where the announcement was made that July 2, 1992. Other fishermen who were forced to lay down their cod traps and nets, wanted to burn their boats. About 40,000 people were put out of work in Newfoundland and Labrador and the other Atlantic provinces combined. click here to read the story 09:10

FISH-NL calls on C-NLOPB to suspend seismic work in light of potential impact on basis of marine food chain 

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) has requested that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) immediately suspend seismic work  off Newfoundland and Labrador in light of a new study that found the intense acoustic signals may damage critical elements of the marine food chain. “With most commercial fish stocks at or near critical levels our first priority must be the health of our renewable marine resources,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, who made the request Thursday in a letter to Scott Tessier, chair and executive officer of the C-NLOPB. “The potential impact of seismic testing on the marine environment — combined with a potential conflict of interest in which the best interests of inshore harvesters may not be represented — should compel the C-NLOPB to act,” Cleary wrote in the letter. click here to read the press release 08:59

P.E.I. fishermen surprise tall ship crew by giving them lobster

A Spanish tall ship visiting P.E.I. drifted into a seafood surprise off Beach Point when it received some fresh lobster from fisherman Frank MacNeill and his crew. It was just before sunset on Tuesday, June 27, and the fishermen had finished hauling up the lobster traps aboard MacNeill’s boat, Spray Maker, when they realized the tall ship was close by. “She wasn’t far from us at all,” said MacNeill. “I just circled up and I asked them if they’d got lobsters off any of the (other lobster fishermen) and they said no.” There were four or five other lobster boats in the same waters that day, said MacNeill, some of which had already approached the tall ship. “I went back and seen what was in the trays — there was probably 35 or more lobsters — and I said to the boys, ‘we mays as well give ‘em all.’ ” click here to read the story 08:24

Carcass of right whale being towed to P.E.I. to determine cause of death

The Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were expected to beach a dead right whale on a Prince Edward Island shore Wednesday in a bid to learn what killed at least six of the endangered mammals in recent weeks. Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society said the carcass was being towed to shore at Norway, P.E.I., with the intention of conducting a necropsy on Thursday. “For the coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans … it is a very slow process to ensure the safety of the people on the boats and also make sure they don’t lose the animal midway coming in. Some of these animals are coming from quite a ways away,” Wimmer said. click here to read the story 15:22

DFO plan for at-sea observers met with skepticism by lobster fishermen

A federal government proposal to introduce mandatory at-sea observers on board the southwest Nova Scotia lobster fleet is getting a cold shoulder from representatives of three fisheries groups.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans wants observers to monitor bycatch of cod and cusk caught inadvertently in lobster traps. Bernie Berry of the Coldwater Lobster Association said the plan would require all fishermen to notify the government every time they plan to leave port — a process known as hailing out. Some would be randomly selected to have an observer from an existing monitoring company meet them at the dock prior to sailing. click here to read the story 11:37

Year-round harvesters offer up option to N.L. shrimp plants

The Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP) says it can help supply shrimp to plants in this province hurt by recent quota cuts. “Canada’s year-round shrimp harvesters would welcome supplying whole, frozen-at-sea shrimp for cooking and peeling by shore-based shrimp processing plants in NL,” CAPP executive director Bruce Chapman said in a news release Tuesday. Much of the shrimp caught by the year-round shrimp harvesters is unavailable. The larger shrimp is packed for use in sushi and sashimi restaurants in Japan, the release states, while the medium-sized shrimp that is cooked and packaged on board goes to Scandinavia and Asia. A portion of the catch, however, consists of small size whole shrimp that is sold to shore-based cooking and peeling operations. click here to read the story 16:41

Tribute to Redgeway Russell thrown overboard in a bottle washes up exactly where he’d want it to

When Corinna Russell’s father died in 2015, she did something he probably wouldn’t have approved of. She agreed to take his place aboard the Northern Swan, a small crab fishing boat launched out of their hometown, William’s Harbour, on the south coast of Labrador. “I don’t think Dad would have been too impressed at that moment. I think he would have been nervous.” The 2016 crab season was the first in many years without Redgeway Russell on deck. The younger Russell says it was difficult for all hands. “The whole crab season was very emotional for me,” she said, “I tried my hardest to fill his shoes — pretty big shoes to fill.” At the end of the season, Russell and the rest of the crew decided to do something special for her father. Crewmate Pamela Penney penned a tribute to her old friend, rolled it up in a bottle, and asked his daughter to throw it out to sea. One year later — on Father’s Day — they learned the bottle had landed in Ireland.  click here to read the story and see the message 09:57


Trapped On The Ocean Floor: A Stunning Tale Of Maritime Survival

Cape Sable in Nova Scotia has been the scene of many hundreds of shipwrecks over the centuries.  According to one reliable chronicler of the days of sail, that number is close to 340.  I remember the story of one such wreck that stands out for the extraordinary tale of suffering and survival it contains.  We will tell the tale of the wreck of the schooner Cod Seeker, which went down on May 9, 1877. The Cod Seeker was a two-masted fishing vessel built at Clyde River, Nova Scotia, in 1877; after being provisioned and fitted at Halifax, it embarked on its first cruise with a crew of 13 and a captain named Philip Brown.  Codfish was her object; then as now, the cod industry was a key part of the economy of the area. But the ship ran into rough seas near Baccaro Light and capsized a few days after leaving Halifax. click here to read the story 17:18

FISH-NL advises Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc to cancel 2017 sentinel cod program 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 26th, 2017 The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) has written federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc recommending that he cancel the 2017 sentinel cod program. The federal government first introduced sentinel or test fisheries for cod in the mid-1990s, the moratoria years, to keep a first-hand check of the health of stocks in the absence of commercial fisheries. It has never been adjusted to account for or to incorporate the impacts of commercial activity. The program involves upwards of roughly 70 fixed, test fishery sites, costing taxpayers an estimated $1.1 million a year. Funds are also raised from the sale of cod caught in the sentinel fisheries, an estimated 350 tonnes, but it’s not known where that money goes. click here to read the press release and letter 15:06

DFO will talk to Nova Scotia about growing number of Marine Protected Areas

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will meet with the province to discuss its concerns about the growing numbers of marine protected areas being designated off Nova Scotia, a department spokesman says. In April, the province asked Ottawa to stop making additional designations until other provinces and territories reach the same numbers achieved off Nova Scotia. The McNeil government is concerned the creation of more marine protected areas will have a negative impact on Nova Scotia’s economy. Marine-protected designations restrict human activities like fishing and offshore energy development. click here to read the story 11:30

DFO concerned by deaths of 5 endangered North Atlantic Right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is working with marine mammal experts, scientists, and fishery officers from across Atlantic Canada to determine what has caused the recent deaths of several rare North Atlantic Right whales in eastern Canada. At least five dead Right whales have been seen recently in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This situation is very concerning. The cause of death is unknown at this time and DFO is committed to finding out what happened to these animals and to protecting this species. DFO is reaching out for assistance from a broad range of expertise from the Marine Animal Response Society, the Canadian Whale Institute and wildlife pathology veterinarians from the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to find answers. DFO is also working with partners including Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the USA’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (as this is a cross border issue) and commercial area fishermen. click here to read the press release 09:21

Think you’ve seen it all? Trudeau government proposes opening St. Lawrence marine protected area to oil exploration

The Liberal government is proposing to allow oil and gas exploration in a new marine protected area that it plans to establish where the Gulf of St. Lawrence meets the Atlantic Ocean. Ottawa released an impact statement Friday on its Laurentian Channel protected area, a 11,619-square-kilometre stretch of ocean in which commercial activity would be limited in order to protect vulnerable marine life. The establishment of the marine protected area (MPA) is part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to set aside 10 per cent of Canada’s coastal waters by 2020. But some environmental groups and ocean scientists argue Ottawa is undermining the effort by allowing future oil and gas exploration in the zone. click here to read the story 19:57

Canadians are contesting New Hampshire’s supposedly record-breaking lobster roll

Perhaps not since the Pork and Beans War has New England been engaged in such an inconsequential food-related dispute with its northern neighbors. But here we are. Last weekend, the Portsmouth, New Hampshire location of the local pub chain British Beer Company set out to break the record for the world’s longest lobster roll, previously set last September by the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association. And according to the Portsmouth restaurant, they did it — beating the Canadians’ 120-foot-long roll with a heaping creation just shy of 160 feet. click here to read the story 16:57

Nova Scotia lobster fishermen reject idea of surveillance cameras on boats

The global demand by consumers (enviro’s) that seafood be harvested sustainably made its way into a firehall in Lockeport Thursday. More than a hundred fishermen from southwest Nova Scotia showed up at an information session on the use of video cameras on fishing boats to monitor catch. The session was hosted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and organized by the Ecology Action Centre. A fisherman from British Columbia and a program manager from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute both spoke about the use of camera monitoring in those regions. At issue is the bycatch of endangered or threatened species. In Nova Scotia’s lobster fishery, the Atlantic cod and cusk are among fish stocks to watch as they get trapped along with the crustaceans. Many of the fishermen who attended the workshop were upset about the perceived need for cameras, and suspicious about an invasion of privacy. click here to read the story 08:10