Tag Archives: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

FISH-NL: Reopening the seal hunt – “If licensed sealers want to hunt seal let them hunt seal.”

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is disappointed with a decision by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to reopen the seal hunt to a limited harvest between March 28-April 7. Early last week FISH-NL called on DFO to reopen the harp and hood seal hunt to all harvesters and all fleets in Newfoundland and Labrador by March 25th. The federal government closed the hunt on March 15th to allow time for seal whelping and nursing. On Friday, FISH-NL was informed by federal sources that the seal hunt would reopen by March 28th (which it will be — 6 a.m. Tuesday morning), but not for all fleets and harvesters.  Instead, licences will only be issued to a small number of vessels hunting adult seals for Phucolax International, a Fleur de Lys-based sealing operation that’s in the market right  now for up to 4,000 animals. “It’s acknowledged by all quarters that an unchecked seal population is having an impact on delicate stocks such as shrimp, crab and cod, so why is DFO putting any restrictions at all on reopening the hunt?” asks Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “If licensed sealers want to hunt seal let them hunt seal.” Ryan Cleary 14:33

Federal government protects overabundant grey seal population over fish stocks

MONCTON, NB – Fish harvesters attending the Gulf Groundfish Advisory Committee this week in Moncton are expressing their frustrations and disbelief over the federal government’s refusal to protect groundfish stocks by controlling the grey seal population. Many species of groundfish will be unable to adequately recover without proper management of the grey seal population. The effect of grey seals on fish populations has been confirmed by scientists, yet the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has not taken adequate action to address this problem. An increased harvest of grey seals would aid in allowing groundfish species to rebound, thereby creating new economic opportunities for thousands of families in Eastern Canada. continue reading the press release here 09:08

Fisheries committee calls for ‘rebuilding plan,’ information sharing on northern cod stocks

The once-mighty northern cod stock off Newfoundland needs an immediate “rebuilding plan,” according to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The federal committee on the fishery also chastised the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for not yet establishing a fully-developed rebuilding strategy, almost 25 years after the commercial cod moratorium. In a report released Monday, the committee wrote it was “astonished” to learn that DFO had not yet fully implemented recommendations from a 2011 report, which called on DFO to set reference points for the stock. The committee cited expert opinion that warned without a plan, the stock was doomed to perpetual underperformance. While the committee did write that work was underway, it called on DFO to “immediately” create a plan, which should restrict fishing of northern cod until the stock leaves the critical zone, and manage availability of prey like capelin. continue reading the story here 12:15

Not what I’m seeing: Crab fisherman thinks stock healthier than scientists say

Port de Grave snow crab fisherman says he’s baffled by a bleak stock assessment recently released by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. While federal scientists said there has been a whopping 40 per cent decline in the amount of harvestable crab off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dwight Petten says that doesn’t match what he is seeing on the water. Petten, 51, has been fishing for a quarter century. He and his 27-year-old son own two boats, employ six people and have a 500,000-pound quota which they caught easily in 2016. “We found catch rates the best we’ve ever had, so we’re not seeing what the scientists is saying is happening,” he told the St. John’s Morning Show. Petten, who fishes in Area 3L, from Bonavista to Cape Race, said he is seeing lots of healthy crab, despite the assertion by scientists that there are few small crab to replace the mature stock. continue reading the story here 07:51

Department of Fisheries and Oceans considers making on-board cameras a must in N.S., P.E.I. tuna fishery

Canada’s DFO is considering making onboard surveillance cameras mandatory in the tuna fishery in northern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Next week DFO will release to industry its review of a two-year pilot project that saw cameras installed — starting in 2015 — for the first time in a commercial fishery in Atlantic Canada. The rear-facing cameras are aimed only at fishing activity. The department, which collects and reviews the data, says it may move to full implementation in the Gulf region for the commercial and charter boat catch-and-release bluefin tuna fishery in 2017. “This fishery has seen an increase in reports of non-compliance in recent years,” says a July 2016 briefing note prepared for the federal fisheries minister. More fallout from Operation Hook Up,,, continue reading the story here 10:17

‘A major concern’: Snow crab, shrimp assessments worry fisheries minister

The Newfoundland and Labrador minister of fisheries and natural resources has added his voice to those concerned about what the latest shrimp and snow crab assessments will mean for 2017 quotas. “What we’re hearing from harvesters is that they are concerned and this is a major concern of ours as well,” Steve Crocker said Thursday. “When you look at our shellfish industry, it provides thousands of jobs in our plants and we have thousands of harvesters who rely on these resources for their income.” The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates the volume of crab available to be caught dropped 40 in one year, and shrimp stocks off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and southern Labrador are at their lowest level ever. Continue reading the story here 16:23

FISH-NL calls for independent, expert review of DFO in light of reported dramatic decline of key stocks

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling for an independent, external review of the management/science capabilities of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in relation to the reported dramatic decline of key stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador. “The picture right now for our harvesters is bleaker than the moratorium,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “When cod stocks collapsed in the early 1990s harvesters could turn to other species, but crab, shrimp and south coast cod are apparently in simultaneous free fall, if not outright collapse, and the common theme is DFO management.” continue reading the press release here 09:32

Potentially precedent setting fisheries case now in the hands of a Federal Court of Canada judge

A court case looming over Atlantic Canada’s inshore fisheries is now in the hands of a Federal Court of Canada judge. Justice Cecily Strickland reserved her decision Wednesday after two days of legal arguments in an Ottawa courtroom that centred on whether the minister of fisheries has the power to manage the fishery for social and economic objectives outside of fish conservation. Labrador fisherman Kirby Elson is appealing a 2015 decision by the minister to take away his snow crab licence because he refused to exit a controlling agreement with two fish processors, one that allowed them to control the licence and the wealth it generated. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says such agreements are an end run around its policies that individual fishermen — not corporations — are the beneficiaries of inshore licences. continue reading the story here  12:09

Labrador fisherman’s lawyers fight to keep his “controlling” agreement with fish processor

A lawyer for a Labrador snow crab fisherman who had his fishing licence stripped by the federal minister of fisheries said the minister had no authority to do so. Kirby Elson, 62, lost his licence in 2015 because he refused to exit a controlling agreement with two Newfoundland and Labrador fish companies that gave total control of the licence and its wealth to the companies. Byron Shaw, one of Elson’s lawyers, argued Tuesday the minister of fisheries has no authority to interfere in a contract that transfers wealth between a harvester and a third party. He said the policy the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is enforcing has nothing to do with the management of fish stocks. The case opened Tuesday at the Federal Court of Canada and is expected to last two days. continue reading the story here Stakes of inshore fisheries case are ‘absolutely massive,’ says observer, Why people are watching this case? continue reading the story here 08:04

Latest DFO stock assessment unveils a poor outlook for snow crab

It’s not a pretty picture. In a technical briefing Monday, Darrell Mullowney, lead scientist for snow crab in the NL region for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said the latest stock assessment on snow crab in the Newfoundland and Labrador region shows an overall 40 per cent decline in exploitable biomass from 2015-16. Since 2013, the decline of exploitable biomass has been 80 per cent. Exploitable biomass refers to the crab that are adult, and of legal size — a shell size greater than 95 mm — for commercial fishing. The DFO numbers come from their own trawl surveys — one in fishing zones off the south coast each spring, and the other in northern fishing areas in the fall — as well as from reports from observers on commercial fishing vessels, the log books of the crab fishing fleets, and trap surveys conducted by DFO in inshore areas. The decline in crab stocks, explained Mullowney, is due to two major factors: warming water temperatures and groundfish. continue reading the story here 11:04

Federal Court of Canada – Legal challenge threatening autonomy of inshore fishery opens today

The Federal Court of Canada will begin hearing a test case today in Ottawa that could overturn a decades-old policy that prevents a corporate takeover of inshore fishing licences in Atlantic Canada. The seafood processing industry, inshore fishermen’s groups and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are all watching the case closely, albeit with very different expectations. “The stakes are important because we have seen other fisheries be taken over by corporations and it leaves less money in the hands of individuals and communities,” said Melanie Sonnenberg, president of the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters Federation. The Federal Court case centres on Kirby Elson, a fisherman from the Labrador community of Cartwright, N.L. Elson was stripped by DFO of his snow crab licence in 2015 when he refused to exit a controlling agreement with fish processor Quinlan Brothers and a related company. Under the 2003 agreement, the company controlled the licence and the wealth it generated. Quinlan Brothers paid the licence fee, provided the vessel and crew, and paid for the insurance and maintenance. continue reading the story here 09:10

Cod an option in face of looming shrimp cuts, says FFAW

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union says expansion into commercial cod fishing is a possibility for harvesters, as another cut to overall shrimp quotas looms for next season. Following revelations by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans this week that the shrimp stock in the crucial Zone 6 area off of Newfoundland has fallen again, FFAW president Keith Sullivan says it looks like another quota cut is coming — but there may be alternatives. According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the landed value of shrimp in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2016 dropped to $276 million. Read the story here 08:29

Northern shrimp stocks still ‘critical’ – no improvement in spawning biomass

It’s the season to talk about the prospects for the shrimp fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador and the initial information for the new season does not look promising. In a media briefing this morning, Katherine Kanes, mathematician/stock-assessment biologist with Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) outlined the current picture from the most recent stock assessments, for northern shrimp in fishing areas 6, 5 and 4 — off the Northern Peninsula and the coast of Labrador. Data collected from the fall multi-species trawl survey by DFO, as well as information from fishers shows there’s not been much improvement from last year. In SFA 6 — the area that most inshore commercial fishers from this province depend on for their shrimp catches — the biomass of female shrimp is still in the critical zone, she said. Continue reading the story here 09:26

Nunavut fishery gets a big boost in turbot quotas, expects a $7M to $8M increase in revenue

Last week, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans increased the total allowable catch for 2017 and 2018 by 575 tonnes in each of the two fishing areas adjacent to Baffin Island. “What it means, of course, if you’re looking at revenue on that amount of product, is somewhere between $7 million to $8 million of increase in revenue,” said Jerry Ward, the director of fisheries at Qikiqtaaluk Corporation. “Plus, it will also provide more jobs throughout the year and so on. So we’re quite pleased with it.” The limits on turbot in zone 0A, northeast of Baffin Island, was upped to 8,575 tonnes, with Nunavut fishermen receiving all of the increase. The limit in zone 0B, off Baffin Island’s southeast coast, was increased to 7,575 tonnes. Nunavut will receive 90 per cent of that increase, with Inuit fishers in Nunavik receiving the other 10 per cent. Read the story here 10:17

Canadian researchers denied samples of oil spill dispersant Corexit 9500, Corexit 9580 by Nalco Environmental Solutions

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it will try again to secure samples of an oil spill dispersant for testing by government-funded researchers after the American manufacturer refused two requests in 2016. The impasse surrounds research by fish biologist Craig Purchase of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s. Purchase was working on a $75,000 project funded by DFO comparing two types of oil dispersant products called Corexit on beach-spawning capelin. But he never got the chance to compare Corexit 9500 — an open ocean oil spill dispersant — with Corexit 9580, a surface agent used to clean beaches. He was able to get a sample of the oil spill dispersant from DFO but the manufacturer, Nalco Environmental Solutions, refused to provide Purchase with a sample of the beach cleaning agent Corexit 9580 last April. Nalco refused again when DFO asked for a sample on his behalf. Read the story here 09:24 Read this Corexit’s Deadly Legacy

DFO bust targets 12 year old boy for catching and selling a few smelt

A Gander Bay South man says his 12-year-old son was unfairly targeted by a Department of Fisheries and Oceans sting over $20 in smelt. Donnie Harris told CBC News his son, Jayden, has been catching and selling smelt for the last few years — for just $2 a dozen — and this year posted an ad on a classified website using his father’s account. Jayden said he hoped to attract a few more customers with the ad on the website. “I wanted to get some money to buy an ice shelter,” Last Wednesday, Jayden’s ad prompted an email from a “Bob Smith,” requesting 10 dozen — four fresh, six frozen — and said he’d be by around the next afternoon. The next afternoon, with Jayden back in school, Smith stopped by to pick up the fish. Harris said they chatted for a little while about Jayden’s love of fishing. “So he knew, even before he done what he done, that it wasn’t me, it was my son that he was setting up,” said Harris. Eventually, Smith paid $20 for the fish, and about five minutes later he returned — this time with a DFO truck and three officers, Read the story here 13:48

A ‘Confluence of events’ may have caused mysterious fish kill off Nova Scotia

A federal scientist says the recent high-profile fish kill off southwestern Nova Scotia may have been caused by a “confluence of events,” including fish behaviour, weather, and various ecological factors such as predators. However, Alain Vezina says it’s still not known what caused thousands of herring and shellfish to wash ashore at several points between late November and through December. Vezina, who is regional director of science for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), says causes such as pollution, pesticides, and naturally occurring toxins have been ruled out. He says overall the kill was a “small and localized event” that occurred over a 100 kilometre swath from St. Marys Bay to Tusket. Read more here 14:47

Warming trend continues in waters off Atlantic Canada

Warmer ocean temperatures off Atlantic Canada continued in 2016, maintaining a trend that started earlier this decade, according to survey results from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. On the Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia, temperatures last year were as high as three degrees above the 30-year average used to establish climatic norms. “It’s not quite the same [record] level of 2012, but it’s getting close to it,” said Dave Hebert, a research scientist with DFO. He added that 2016 was probably the second warmest year on record.  Scientists have struggled to explain what is causing the most intriguing aspect of the recent trend: the warming of ocean bottom water, which is not influenced by surface weather events. Hebert said the latest theory is based on model results that see the Gulf Stream moving northward and intersecting with the tail of the Grand Banks. “That is stopping the cold Labrador Sea water from coming around the tail of the Grand Banks,” he said. “That’s where we normally get the cold water that refreshes the [Scotian] Shelf. That hasn’t been happening. Read the story here 16:48

‘I was driving in lobster,’ Beaches strewn with ‘millions’ of lobsters after storm surge along New Brunswick’s northeast coast

Jean Benoit says he never expected to see what he described as ‘millions’ of lobsters washed up on the beach in Val Comeau, N.B.,  on Saturday morning. “I was driving in lobster,” he said of his trip to the beach about 10 kilometres from Tracadie-Sheila on the Acadian Peninsula. Benoit and his friends routinely check the beach after storms but weren’t prepared for what they found New Year’s Eve, after Environment Canada warned of a storm surge the day before. “It was incredible all the lobster that we can get there,” Benoit said. “It was amazing. We cannot imagine what the wind can bring us, but it was too much.” He described seeing lobster, crabs and big clams washed up in stretches of 150 metres, then nothing for a stretch of 300 metres, then more shellfish again. Read the story here 09:37

Most southwest Nova Scotia beaches now clear of dead herring, latest round of tests find no viruses

Fisheries officials say the flood of dead herring washing up on southwest Nova Scotia beaches has slowed. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is monitoring for “evidence of new incidents” in areas where thousands of dead herring have been found since November, and more recently scores of starfish, clams and lobster. Read the story here Meanwhile, The latest round of tests from fish kills in southwest Nova Scotia have not found any viruses. “The viral tests, the long-term ones we were waiting for, all of them came back negative,” said David Jennings, a spokesman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Halifax. Jennings said recent patrols confirm most beaches from Tusket in Yarmouth County around to inner St. Marys Bay are clear of dead herring. The majority of those that remain on shore are located from the mouth of the Sissiboo River to the Plympton area, he said. “We have a few new wash-ups of herring being identified, but not to the extent reported [on] earlier.” Read the story here 17:28

Scientists test water to narrow down what’s killing herring, sea creatures at St. Marys Bay

Federal scientists are testing water samples and scanning images of the bottom of St. Marys Bay, hoping to determine what caused thousands of herring and sea creatures to wash ashore near Digby, N.S. Staff aboard a vessel gathered samples Thursday and used an underwater camera to film and photograph the ocean floor. Kent Smedbol, manager of population ecology for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in the Maritimes, said the data will be examined to try to figure out whether an environmental factor caused the fish to die. “It could be an intrusion of very cold water very rapidly, it could be related to a rapid change in salinity with the storms that have gone through … due to the sudden influx of fresh water, rain or runoff from the land,” he said.  “Depending on what we find, then hopefully that will allow us to discount a number of possibilities and focus our efforts on some possible explanations.”  Read the story here 08:55

Controlling Agreements – Who owns the fishing licence?

dfocrestAccording to an official from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), controlling agreements in the inshore fishing fleet on Canada’s East Coast are almost a thing of the past. In 2007, DFO asked fishers throughout the region to declare whether or not they had such agreements. Those who declared themselves to be party to such deals were given a deadline, 2014, to get out of the agreements. Morley Knight, Department of Fisheries and Oceans says about 700 fishers declared controlling agreements and almost all of them have complied with the department’s policy. He added that since 1979, the department’s policy regarding controlling agreements has been clear. A policy to preserve the owner/operator rule — simply that the holder of a commercial fish licence is the person who has control of the management and operation of the fishing enterprise — was enacted in 1979, during the tenure of former fisheries minister Romeo LeBlanc. Still, many fishers entered into agreements with third parties — fish processing companies and other business enterprises — that saw control of the fishing enterprise go to those companies. Read the story here 10:29

DFO cracking down on deals that flout rules to keep inshore fishery in local hands

dfocrestTwo Maritime fishermen have lost their fishing licences following a Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigation into the use of so-called controlling agreements in the past year. They haven’t released the names or location of the fishermen. “We’ve concluded five cases. Of those cases, two were in agreements that were contrary to our policy,” said Morley Knight, DFO’s Maritimes regional manager. The department said other licence reviews are ongoing as it ramps up efforts to combat controlling agreements — the side deals where a fisherman hands control and use of a licence to a third party, usually a company. The agreements are seen as an end-run around policies to keep the inshore fishery in local hands, like the owner-operator policy that fishing licenses are held only by owner-operators, and fleet separation, which prevents companies from being both harvester and processor. Read the rest here 09:13

DFO cracks down on secret fishing licence deals

dfocrestCanada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it’s cracking down on so-called “controlling agreements” that result in fishermen holding a fishing licence in name only. Morley Knight, the department’s manager for the Maritimes, said five licence-compliance reviews have been completed in the region and other cases are ongoing. Controlling agreements allow individuals or corporations other than the licence holder to secretly control the use of the licence.  They allow companies to get around DFO’s owner-operator policy, which is meant to ensure the independence of Atlantic Canada’s inshore fishery. Read the rest here 08:11

Lobster season on Nova Scotia’s southwest coast delayed by bad weather

ns-lobster-season-20121127-topixThe lobster season on Nova Scotia’s southwest coast has been delayed by one day due to high winds a rough seas. The season was supposed to start Monday but has been put off until Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., said Graeme Gawn president of local 9 with the Maritime Fishermen’s Union. “It’s always frustrating because everybody is ready to go and they want to go, but nobody wants to get hurt and nobody wants to see their crews get hurt.” Gawn said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made the decision Sunday morning on a conference call. The first day of the lobster season, referred to as dumping day, is when fishermen first set their lobster traps, it’s considered one of the most dangerous days of the entire season. Most fishermen are more than happy to wait until the weather is more cooperative to head out on the water, said Gawn. Read the rest here 12:24

Input sought for Northwest Atlantic mackerel research

2010-08-10-10-42-52-mackerelResearcher working on management advice for mackerel stocks seeking participation from fishermen in survey An informal survey of Canadian Atlantic mackerel commercial, recreational and bait fishers will soon be completed. Elisabeth Van Beveren, a post-doctoral researcher from Belgium working in Canada on northwest Atlantic mackerel, says she hopes to have most answers by mid-November. If results are still being received, she may extend the deadline. She is working with scientists at the Maurice-Lamontagne Institute (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) in order to better estimate the size of the Canadian mackerel stock. Van Beveren says she has heard from about 360 people to date. Read the story here 10:02

Species At Risk? Eel decline in Quebec and Ontario could end industry in Maritimes

glass eelAn effort to protect eels in Ontario and Quebec is threatening to shut down the little known but lucrative eel fishery in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. “What is at stake is the livelihood of people in rural Nova Scotia,” said Yvonne Carey of Atlantic Elver Fishery, one of eight Nova Scotia eel fishery licence holders. Another licence is in New Brunswick. Between 130 and 140 people are employed each year netting adult and baby American eels as they enter and leave rivers in the two provinces. This week in Dartmouth, officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will review data collected on those rivers as part of a to decide whether the Maritime eel population is really at risk.  The department is considering a recommendation from wildlife experts to declare American eels a species at risk. Read the story here 14:41

Nova Scotia fishermen are concerned about proposed Marine Protected Areas (they should be!)

nova-fish-boatThe federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans wants to double the number of marine protected areas around Nova Scotia next year. DFO is holding a series of consultation meetings with the public to get feedback to the idea. It identified 52 special areas within the 475,000-square-kilometre region along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast and in the Bay of Fundy that are in the running for the designation including the Sambro Ledges, Port Joli and Eastern Shore islands. Marty King, an oceans biologist with DFO, said the government will choose at least two areas to protect by next spring. But the proposed protections have fishermen worried. “They feel like they’re under siege sometimes,” said Peter Connors, president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen Protective Association.  “I’m quite concerned.” “There’s fear of exclusion from the fish,” said Connors. “I think there’s a certain amount of evidence that that will take place.” Read the rest here 09:21

 Hybridization – Escaped farmed salmon are breeding with wild salmon and producing offspring

nl-aquaculture-fish-farming-cage-open-water-20130927Research has confirmed that escaped farmed salmon are breeding with wild salmon and producing offspring in many rivers in Newfoundland. “We did find evidence of successful breeding between farmed and wild salmon. Approximately a third of the individuals we sampled showed evidence of hybrid ancestry,” said Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist Ian Bradbury, of the unpublished study presented at an international aquaculture conference in St. John’s on Tuesday. Researchers studied thousands of fish in 18 rivers on the island’s south coast, and found evidence of interbreeding in 17 of them. “It was widespread across a suite of the rivers that we looked at. I think there was only one river where we didn’t see evidence of hybridization,” said Bradbury. It’s estimated that over the decades since the advent of aquaculture, more than 750,000 salmon have escaped from fish farms in the province. The new study sheds light on what happens to them in the wild. Read the story here 11:26

Owning the Owner Operator Policy

I read a blog post this week and the first paragraph rang so true to me: how most media stories would lead you to believe that the fishery is on its last legs and a dying industry when the opposite is in fact the case.  What really caught my interest though was that there is a movement in the United States that if new fishing licences are issued, that they be to owner operators. At a time when Canada’s commitment to owner operator fisheries seems to be seriously in question, it’s interesting to see other countries advocating and moving in that direction. Owner operator fisheries means simply that the person who owns the boat and license is the one on the water fishing. While the official policy jargon in Canada will tell you that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans supports owner operator fisheries, the reality of policy decisions over the past two decades that I’ve been in the fishery have resulted in quite the opposite: management has moved towards individual transferable quotas (ITQ’s) which ultimately result in consolidation of access to the resource for a few (mainly) corporate interests who then hire people to fish. Read the story here. 10:16

Starving cod – Harvesters reporting catching thin cod with little in their digestive systems

cod-fishScientists with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are keeping a close eye on cod stocks in southern Labrador, in the wake of reports from harvesters catching fish in rough shape this season. “What we’re catching here now, it’s very poor. There’s nothing in the puttocks [digestive tract] of the fish,” fisherman Warrick Chubbs told CBC’s The Broadcast. “Only little jellyfish, the size of your thumbnail, and not many of them. The very odd one, you’ll see maybe one or two rotten shrimp.” Chubbs isn’t alone in his concerns. “It certainly seems like this year in southern Labrador the cod are not in very good condition at all,” said DFO research scientist John Brattey, who is hearing multiple similar reports from the region. Read the story here 08:26

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Rejects COSEWIC’s Species-at-risk designation of Atlantic bluefin tuna

hi-852-bluefin-tuna-0074651Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans has rejected advice to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna as an endangered species. The long-awaited recommendation should preserve the region’s $10-million bluefin tuna fishery, industry representatives say. The department says western Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks have been rebuilding since 2011, when the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada said tuna should be listed as an endangered species under federal species-at-risk legislation. That would have made it illegal to kill, harm or capture the giant fish. Glenn MacKenzie of the Gulf Nova Scotia Tuna Association said he was “very relieved.” He’s one of 135 commercial tuna fishermen who fish from the Nova Scotia side of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Read the story here 19:27

It’s time for P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association to grow up

10-lobsters1‘Will fishermen assume their traditional role of bitching and complaining, and doing little else?’ General speaking, lobster fishermen fishing the spring season on the Island had a “pretty good year.” While catches were down from last year in some harbours on the north side and on the south-east coast, prices ranging from $6.50 to $8 a pound made up for it. There wouldn’t be many boats that grossed less than $100,000 and there’d be a good many that grossed well over $200,000.,, Recently the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) decided to gradually increase the minimum legal size for lobsters caught in District 25. Scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that following an increase in the carapace size, catch sizes also increase. There seems to be general acceptance of this change. However, no one was surprised when PEIFA opposed the measure. Read the story here 12:00

Nathan Cullen wants changes to the fisheries system in the North West of Canada

61840princerupertNathanCullenParliamentaryphotoThe fisheries system in the North West of Canada needs an overhaul. That was the message from the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP, Nathan Cullen, last week when he spoke with media. An incident between a few fishermen and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) officers on Aug. 2 has increased tensions in the area, and Canfisco Oceanview plant saw an increased presence of officers. Frustration is mounting over the changing regulations and restrictive fishing methods, and allowing certain user groups to fish down the coast, a DFO spokesperson stated two weeks ago.,,  His answer is to sit down with DFO and the fisheries minister and reform the fishery. Some of the changes he’d like to see already exist on the East Coast. One example he gave was the owner-operator policy in the Atlantic, where commercial fishing licences are held by an individual or the licence holders’s company. Read the story here 20:26

A total shutdown of all salmon fisheries on the Fraser River to conserve sockeye

Fraser River'sThe Fraser River was shut down Thursday at sundown to all salmon fishing due to conservation concerns about sockeye. The notice of “immediate closure” of all salmon fisheries went out from DFO for the tidal and non-tidal sections of the Fraser. “Current run size estimates of Fraser River Summer Run sockeye salmon have resulted in no allowable harvest and a conservation concern,” according to the abrupt notice from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Summer run of Fraser sockeye is usually the strongest. Not this year. “The Department’s first priority is to ensure that there is sufficient sockeye returning to the spawning grounds. The Department will manage all fisheries to minimize sockeye impacts and provide priority access to First Nations’ fishing for food, social and ceremonial purposes.” Recreational anglers had been targeting chinook selectively but the risk was considered is too great for accidentally intercepting sockeye. DFO even mentioned it in their notice. Read the rest here   14:23

What’s Fishy About the Feds’ Salmon Promises?

5327439069_3439b17201_bAs federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc was in West Vancouver Tuesday, promising that his government would act on all 75 recommendations from the 2012 Cohen Commission into the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon, independent biologist Alexandra Morton was sailing into friendly waters on northern Vancouver Island and casting doubt on the government’s intentions. There is no substance to it,” said Morton, pointing out that LeBlanc has avoided any commitment to act on the Cohen recommendation to separate promotion of aquaculture from its duty to protect wild salmon or to put the brakes on the salmon farming industry. The progress report, delivered by LeBlanc, noted that Fisheries and Oceans  oversight of salmon farming meshes with the department’s mandate and LeBlanc said at the news conference that DFO has a responsibility to promote the sustainable use of “fish resources in a way that is good for the local economy.” That does not go down well with Morton, a thorn in the side of the salmon farming industry and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for decades. Read the story here 20:22

Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union News Release: Improvements to Northern Cod Fishery are a Step in the Right Direction

ffaw sullivanSt. Johns – The one-year management approach for the 2016 2J3KL Stewardship Cod fishery signals a new chapter in rebuilding the cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. The improvements in the approach for the 2016 fishery, announced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) last week, includes a lengthened season with opportunities to harvest more cod. According to data from DFO, the Northern cod spawning stock biomass has increased from 20,000 tonnes in 1997 to 300,000 tonnes today. “Rebuilding the cod fishery will bring with it many challenges and opportunities,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union. “This new approach will provide harvesters with an increased opportunity to harvest and will give the processing sector opportunities to market more sustainable, high quality cod.” Read the press release here 11:34

A shrimp apocalypse? Anything is possible, says DFO scientist

maineshrimp_courtesyofC_SchmidtA scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is defending its bleak assessment of shrimp stocks off Newfoundland’s northeast coast and Labrador, and is blaming the resurgent codfish – which feed on shrimp – as a “driving factor.”  Katherine Skanes is also firing back at those questioning the status of the stock. “When the biomass was going up, they had confidence in our survey. Then when the biomass goes down, they lose confidence,” she said. Jaws dropped this past spring after DFO’s annual northern shrimp assessment revealed that the “fishable” biomass in Area 6 had declined by a staggering 41 per cent between 2014 and 2015. DFO blames environmental conditions and predation for the decline. Read the story here 10:46

More Skeena River fish escaping North Coast fishermen in 2016

30657princerupertsockeyesalmonfisheryCF-MR201408195c-BPfiles-6webThe fishing season has had a grim opening. While the season opened earlier than in recent years, fisherman are having a poor harvest in the Skeena River. The Skeena Tyee test fishery, a gillnetter that collects data for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to determine the amount of sockeye salmon that escape the fishery, reported higher than average levels of escapement on July 8-9. The Northern Representative for the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union (UFAWU), Joy Thorkelson, said only 7,000 fish were caught and there were 230 boats out fishing. Area 4, in the Skeena, is tracking well but people have different theories about why so many fish bypassed those fishermen. “We don’t know if it was deep or the fishermen weren’t fishing in the right areas. We don’t know what happened. There was lots of escapement and they should have caught way more than they did,” she said. Read the rest here 13:39

Grand Bank scallop fishermen once again block access to Clearwater Seafoods plant

scallopers protest clearwaterThe harvesters want answers from the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) about access to scallop beds on St. Pierre Bank. The fishermen initially blocked the plant on Monday and thought they might be making some headway when they were invited to take part in a conference call with Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Judy Foote, DFO officials and the union on Thursday. Things didn’t pan out as the harvesters had hoped, however, Wayne Meade said. FFAW-Unifor representatives spoke with government first. The union then held a second conference call with the fishermen without anyone from government on the line, Meade said. Which pissed them off! Read the rest here 18:41

Opinion: A lesson unlearned in fisheries

Canadian Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlancdominic-leblanc has followed his father’s example by allowing inshore fishermen to continue catching northern shrimp off Newfoundland and Labrador. Under pressure to ban the inshore fleet to protect dwindling stocks, the minister decided instead to trim quotas for all harvesting sectors in the shrimp fishery. Dominic’s father, the late Romeo LeBlanc, served as Canada’s minister of fisheries when Canada proclaimed the 200-mile economic zone in 1977. The elder LeBlanc was determined to manage the industry on behalf of inshore fishermen and small coastal communities adjacent to the resource. To that end, he required fishermen to operate their own vessels, forbade processors from owning vessels and fought the introduction of factory freezer trawlers. In short, father Romeo battled the “corporatization” of the fishery. Son Dominic won’t re-introduce those measures, but his decision on northern shrimp does seem Romeo-esque. On Thursday, he announced the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is abolishing the “last-in, first-out” (LIFO) policy in the northern shrimp fishery. Read the rest here 19:44

Expanding Sandbar at West Point Harbour creating a potentially dangerous situation

lionel-livingstone-waits-for-tow-to-free-his-grounded-boatFishermen in West Point are calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to help with a long-term solution to keep sandbars from forming in their harbor. The sandbars make it difficult for boats to get in and out of the harbour and boats sometimes get stuck, blocking access for other vessels and creating a potentially dangerous situation.  The harbour did have some land-based dredging in April, but the harbour is full of sand again. “It’s impassable,” said Paul Wood, president of the West Point Harbour Authority. He estimates the sandbar is expanding by about a foot a day. Video, Read the rest here 09:35

Last In First Out – Shrimp quota change may be ‘disastrous’ for Nova Scotia fishery

doc_505_2A massive decline in northern shrimp stocks off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland could cost Nova Scotia fish companies millions. That has one Nova Scotia fishermen worried about his own commitment to buy a $60-million factory freezer trawler that could fish year-round. “Changing the ground rules at this point in time could have a disastrous impact upon us,” said Liverpool’s Ulf Snarby. With partners in New Brunswick and Labrador, he has been fishing northern shrimp off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, called Area 6, since 1977. Fishable shrimp stocks declined by 41 per cent in Area 6 from 2014 to 2015, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported in January.  With that dramatic decline in the stock, many in the industry expect quotas to be reduced. That’s caused a fight to brew between fishermen in Newfoundland and those in Nova Scotia over who can fish what’s left. Read the rest here – The new $60 million factory freezer trawler Click here 10:34

Fishery closures suggested to save West Coast killer whales

Killer whale, British Columbia, CanadaStrategic fishery closures and marine habitat protection are part of a proposed plan by the federal government to protect the threatened killer whales off Canada’s West Coast. The recovery plan for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whale population has been set out online by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with a 60-day public comment period. The document makes 94 recommendations to help the two distinct whale populations that eat only fish. The Northern Residents are listed as threatened in Canada, while the United States has declared its Southern Resident population endangered.  A team of experts from the federal Fisheries Department, Parks Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States developed the plan between 2011 and 2014. Read the rest here 20:05

Fundy Tidal tests on hold, more consultations to be held before turbine launch

XAV101_20160519340671_highCape Sharp Tidal has put the brakes on the deployment of its first turbine in the Bay of Fundy, originally set for this weekend so it can meet with concerned community members. Sarah Dawson, community relations manager with Cape Sharp Tidal told the Chronicle Herald Thursday that despite extensive outreach activities, there are still stakeholders in the region that feel like they have not been fully heard. “We are taking a pause to. . .hear from those who don’t feel like they have an opportunity. It’s important that we listen and we learn and we always learn from these sorts of engagements,” Dawson said in an interview. (then they’ll stick it in!) Dawson wouldn’t say how long they will be delaying the deployment. “It’s a positive step,” said Minas Basin weir fisherman Darren Porter. Read the rest here 19:05

P.E.I. fishermen are not happy with the lobster size increase

lobster-sizeA decision to increase the lobster carapace size for Lobster Fishing Area 25 has upset the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans issued a notice to fishermen Friday informing them of the change. PEIFA executive director Ian MacPherson said he doesn’t believe the science supports a carapace increase. “Island fishermen just can’t see the value in having less choice for the consumer and having more lobster competing in certain size categories for price,” said MacPherson. “Half of the plants on Prince Edward Island rely on the smaller lobster as a large part of their marketing efforts. They have been marketing to different parts of the world that want that smaller lobster so, you know, this is a real disappointment.”  Read the rest here 09:03

Piscine Reo-Virus found in salmon on one fish farm in B.C. but more research needed

atlantic-salmonScientists have detected a potential disease in farmed Atlantic salmon for the first time in British Columbia, but say more research is needed to determine if it could affect wild populations of the fish. Dr. Kristi Miller, head of the molecular genetics research program in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said pathologists found lesions on salmon on one farm in Johnstone Strait indicating they had heart and skeletal muscle inflammation. “These lesions were present for an extended period of time, at least eight months, on this (undisclosed)  farm,” Miller said Friday. The Piscine Reo-Virus has been associated with all outbreaks of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, as it was on the single B.C. farm, but it’s not known if it causes the disease, Miller said, adding scientists around the world are investigating how the virus could be linked to the disease. Read the rest here 19:36

LIFO policy: Newfoundland and Labrador will take a major hit if the inshore shrimp fishery collapses

Northern_Pink_Shrimp“In 2015, the inshore shrimp fishery contributed $250 million to the economy of rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” Phil Barnes said. “Economic hubs like Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and St. John’s all benefit from the inshore fishery. “Inshore harvesters buy vehicles, groceries, fuel, gear and repair services. Plant workers also spend their income at local businesses,” he said.  Barnes said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has to scrap its  “last in-first out” (LIFO) for the Northern shrimp fishery. “Our inshore fleet has access to one area (Area 6) for a few months of the year while the offshore trawlers are in multiple areas all year round,” he said. “Someone is always there and this has to stop. Read the story here 12:57

Department of Fisheries and Oceans: Northern cod biomass at highest rate since 1992

Atlantic-Cod-Dieter-CraasmannThe Atlantic cod stocks are returning, but there’s still a long way to go before a large-scale commercial fishery becomes viable again. That’s the finding of new research by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which shows that cod stocks in the Northern region are on the way towards leaving the “critical” designation. The stock in the 2J, 3K and 3L regions has increased to an estimated 538,000 tons of fish — the highest rate since 1992. Still, the stock only reaches 34 per cent of the level needed to escape the “critical” zone. DFO performs stock assessments every three years, sourcing information from vessel surveys, commercial catches, tags on the cod and more. In 2013, the stock reached about 300,000 tons in biomass. Today, it’s almost double that. Read the story here 08:23

West Point Scallop fishermen worried about Barnacle covered scallops

barnacles, scallopsIn 44 years of fishing scallops, Tony Sharpe says he’s never seen anything like it. Many of the scallops his drags bring up from beds off West Point are covered with barnacles. What’s worse is the meat, even in many of the large shells, is quite small. He wonders if there is a connection between the barnacles and the poor meat count some fishermen have been encountering since the season opened May 2. Sharpe wonders if the weight of the barnacles is making it difficult for the scallops to feed properly, thus impacting meat growth. The situation has some fishermen wondering whether steps need to be taken to protect the fishery. Miminegash fisherman Mark MacRae is among them. Read the rest here 13:31:11

Just for the Halibut – Quota in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

2016-05-06-05-24-55-PAC-A00-05052016-FishColumn-ForTheHalibutWhile most attention these days is focused on who should should get how much of a share of northern shrimp, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is trying to decide how the Atlantic halibut quota in the Gulf should be shared between fishermen in the five Atlantic provinces. These days, fishermen who ply the waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, fetch anywhere from $6 to $7 a pound for halibut they catch on hook and line. The quota in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is limited — just over 800 tonnes for the past two fishing seasons — and is shared up between five provinces. Read the rest here 08:58

Last In, First Out review sees duelling public campaigns by inshore and offshore shrimp harvesters

Northern_Pink_ShrimpThe Department of Fisheries and Oceans will review the Last In, First Out (LIFO) policy for the northern shrimp fishery and that has two groups of harvesters launching two very different public campaigns. Earlier this year the federal government announced it would temporarily suspend the controversial policy. Some fishermen fear a review will work against the smaller inshore boats as they were the last to enter the fishery. In an attempt to win favour by tugging on the hearts and minds of people in this province, both inshore and offshore supporters have released videos. Watch the competing videos here 09:16

Last In-First Out (LIFO) policy – DFO official assures advisory panel is ‘arms-length and independent

Northern_Pink_ShrimpAn official from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says the Ministerial Advisory Panel chosen to assess the Last In-First Out (LIFO) policy on northern shrimp is an “arms-length” independent panel. Fisheries and Oceans minister Hunter Tootoo declined a request for an interview earlier this week. Instead, Sylvie Lapointe, DFO’s director general of fisheries management, was chosen to answer questions posed by TC Media regarding the appointment and independence of the panel. As for the choice of panelists, Lapointe said the minister selected the members based on their “wide range of skills, experience and expertise, to ensure we can have an independent and comprehensive review of the LIFO policy.” Read the rest here 11:45

In the COSEWIC Crosshairs: West Prince eel fisherman fearful for eel fishery

eel netsA West Prince eel fisherman worries far-reaching restrictions might be placed on the American Eel fishery here without recognizing the many steps Prince Edward Island fishermen have undertaken to prevent over-fishing. Tignish resident Allan McInnis attended a Department of Fisheries and Oceans consultation meeting in Charlottetown in late January during which DFO explained the Species At Risk Act (SARA).The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) identified the American ell as a species of special concern in 2006. COSEWIC subsequently reassessed the American eel, the species fished throughout the Atlantic as “threatened” in 2012. Read the rest here 13:31

Snow Crab season opens Friday for Area 12, Fishermen expect a strong price.

2014-05-05-08-05-55-Crab%20delayed1%20RGB%200506ALBERTON — Carter Hutt anticipates there will be a drive on Wednesday morning to get crab boats ready for a season which is scheduled to get underway on Friday. Hutt is president of the 27-member P.E.I. Snow crab Association. He learned soon after a Tuesday afternoon conference call with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that fishermen on the call agreed unanimously to have the snow crab season for Area 12, which includes P.E.I. boats, commence at 4 a.m. Friday. The opening, however, remains dependent upon favourable ice and wind conditions. Even before the conference call, Hutt was optimistic the season would start Friday. Read the rest here 17:52

Must-read court decision for anyone with an interest in the fishery

BORN ON THIS DAY - 24/12/1167 - King John of EnglandIt’s a different coast and a different ocean – and the case was heard in Vancouver – but a judge in the Federal Court, originally from Newfoundland, has put together some required reading for anyone whose province has a fishery. Judge Elizabeth Heneghan has written a fascinating fisheries primer in her 16,500-word March 11 decision in Calwell Fishing Ltd., Melvin Glen Calwell, Dale Vidulich, Gerald Warren, Aquamarine Transportation Ltd. and George Manson, plaintiffs, and Her Majesty the Queen, defendant. (You can see it here – (You can see it here – http://bit.ly/1MVXZer) There is, by the way, one other reference to the Atlantic coast, but it’s almost certainly an error. There is, by the way, one other reference to the Atlantic coast, but it’s almost certainly an error. The case has a simple theme: what rights do you have to take action against the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans if it changes fisheries rules and costs you your livelihood? Read the article, Click here 08:47

Department of Fisheries and Oceans cuts N.L. snow crab quotas for 2016 season

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has cut the total allowable catch for snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador this upcoming season by about 13 per cent. Some fishing areas will see quota cuts of more than that — division 3Ps, in the Placentia Bay area, will see a 30 per cent reduction, while most areas of 3K, along the northeast coast, will see a 20 per cent cut. Some areas of 3LNO also face 20 per cent cuts. DFO has set the 2016 total limit at 43,802 tonnes. The first divisions open for fishing on April 4. Link 08:57

LIFO (Last in-First out) numbers need a closer look: economist

hi-shrimp-852Debate around the last in, first out (LIFO) policy for the allocation of shrimp quotas rages, even as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans begins to re-evaluate applying its quota cuts to inshore fishermen before any larger, year-round enterprises. At the Comfort Inn in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon, made a presentation at a gathering of the St. John’s Board of Trade, saying more study would help any facts-based debate and decision-making around LIFO. He told his audience, based on figures available, he would expect the province’s GDP to fall $540 for every tonne of shrimp transferred from the year-round fleet to the inshore fishery. Read the rest here 09:20

Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ last in, first out (LIFO) is working exactly as planned

dfocrestLIFO was never intended to have a long shelf life. Its purpose was and is to pave the way for what has been in the planning and negotiating stage for a long time now, and which is designed to replace it — the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. Between now and when that trade agreement is ratified, LIFO will help force inshore fishers, processors, plant workers, coastal communities and out of the fishery — and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is about to take a $280-million bribe to help grease the wheels. LIFO is merely a symptom, a precursor if you will, to CETA. Read the rest here 08:40