Tag Archives: DFO

Capelin count: DFO spending $2.4M to study fishery ‘linchpin’

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is spending more time and money on understanding why capelin stocks haven’t recovered. “Capelin are a linchpin; that’s the simplest I can put it. If you don’t have a lot of capelin, you don’t have a lot of other stuff,” senior researcher Pierre Pepin told reporters at a department briefing. Pepin said the success of other species depends on a healthy capelin population.,, It wasn’t just cod that collapsed in the early ’90s. Capelin stocks peaked at around six million tonnes before collapsing to next to nothing. Recent surveys show a small recovery to about one million tonnes. Scientists don’t know what caused the collapse, but it came during a period of very cold ocean temperatures. click here to read the story 09:30

Speaking of Science, DFO says trust the science!

In the midst of ongoing protests outside of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John’s Friday, several DFO staff briefed reporters on fisheries science and the approach to resource management. At the Canadian Coast Guard building on Southside Road, they walked through an overview of ongoing scientific study and management work specific to Newfoundland and Labrador. The presentations spoke to the extent and effect of ecosystem changes, including the recent and painful quota cuts to both northern shrimp and crab. A biomathematician and employee for more than 30 years with DFO, Dr. Pierre Pepin spoke to the department’s seasonal ocean climate monitoring and trawl surveys, among other work. He said the science being conducted in the region is robust, and the reports and advice coming from DFO scientists can be trusted as a fundamental source of information. click here to read the story 09:46

Richard Gillett Stands Firm, Determined, while FISH-NL executive accuses DFO and FFAW of playing politics in fishery protest

Ryan Cleary says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union are killing Richard Gillett with politics. “This guy is a rock, but he’s hurting now and they’re playing with his life,” the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador president said of the organization’s vice-president, who is now eight days into a hunger strike while camped outside the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John’s. Cleary was responding to a news release from the FFAW that he claims takes credit for the federal government’s decision to conduct a full assessment on northern cod stocks on an annual basis. (Ten yearold Lucas Wilkinson made the point it was important to show solidarity with Richard Gillett. click here to read the story! 21:54

Day 8: Richard Gillett hunger strike – Gillett joined by two-dozen supporters

As the eighth day Richard Gillett’s hunger strike began Thursday morning, he was joined by over two dozen of his fellow fish harvesters.  While the demonstration was peaceful in nature, the protestors were stopping Department of Fisheries and Ocean Employees from entering the road leading the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre. There were few vehicles to impede, however, as DFO management had already planned a delayed opening and decided just after 8:30 a.m. to keep the building closed until noon. RNC officers were briefly on the scene to speak with Gillett and his supporters. click here to read the story 11:44

‘It’s breaking my heart’: Richard Gillett’s father among fishermen supporting hunger strikerclick to read the story and a short video 13:27

UPDATED: Port aux Choix protesters get meeting with fishery officials

Since the April 18 protest, a meeting has been scheduled between DFO Area Director John Lubar and protest representatives for Friday, April 21 in Hawke’s Bay. Port au Choix harvester Stella Mailman has told the Northern Pen that seven or eight representatives from the area, representing different fleets and fleet sizes, will be attending the meeting – herself, included.
She is hoping they will address the issues the harvesters were protesting and advocating for on April 18. “The 4R lines, the adjacency, and talk about all the cuts to the fishery,” said Mailman. “All the things that was brought up during the protest will be put on the table.” She feels having a meeting means they’re making some progress and hopes that those in authoritative positions in the fishery will not just be willing to talk with them, but with people like Richard Gillett, the harvester undertaking a hunger strike, in St. John’s. click here to read the story 16:30

The fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador is in turmoil and I wish to inform the public as to the reasons why.

I am not taking sides with FISH-NL vs. the FFAW — this is a distinctly different matter that involves the right as to who represents fishers in collective bargaining. This is a matter of provincial jurisdiction that has nothing to do with fisheries management and DFO — a federal government responsibility. The Department of Fisheries and Ocean is denying the fishers their right to be consulted, and DFO has delegated its responsibility to the FFAW. The FFAW is a union constituted to represent fishers and plant workers for the purpose of collective bargaining. Click here to read the letter by Gabe Gregory Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s 20:56

Day 6 – The hunger strike of Canadian Fisherman Richard Gillett continues

While Richard Gillett’s accommodations along the side of East White Hills Road have improved, his physical and mental state is headed in the other direction. Gillett, a Twillingate fisherman and vice-president of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL), is five days into a hunger strike outside the entrance to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre. He is protesting what he considers mismanagement of Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesting operations by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and its relationship with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union.,, Also on Monday, Gillett had a meeting with two representatives from DFO, a senior scientist and a member of senior management. The meeting, he says, was nothing more than “lip service” and an effort to gauge his level of determination and the expected turnout of supporters on Tuesday morning when federal employees return to work following the Easter long weekend. click here to read the story 10:50

DFO files police complaint over shrimp fishermen who stormed St. John’s headquarters

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has filed a police complaint about a shrimp protest that took a drastic turn Friday when fishermen broke a door and stormed the headquarters in St. John’s. Two doors were damaged Friday, as about 50 protesters gained access to the federal building on White Hills Road. RNC Const. Steve Curnew said a member of the general investigation unit is looking into the matter. There were also reports of DFO officials being intimidated, as fishermen walked the halls calling out the names of specific individuals in the building.  click here to read the story 11:28

Adjacency – Shrimp fishermen storm DFO building, come away with signed agreement

The protesters, members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Independent Fish Harvesters’ Association (NLIFHA), kicked in a window at the building’s main entrance, stormed the building and wandered the halls in search of specific staff familiar with shrimp science and fisheries management. At issue was not the shrimp quota, but the principles of adjacency surrounding the fishery in Area 6, specifically the 3K region on the province’s northeast coast and 2J off Labrador. Those closest to the resource, they argue, should have first access. “In these dire circumstances, while the shrimp is in the critical zone according to DFO scientists, we’re asking that the access to this shrimp only be given to people living adjacent to the shrimp,” explained Terry Ryan, a fisherman from La Scie and spokesman for the group of about 50. “All other fleets, including boats from Quebec, be denied access until such time as our shrimp recovers out of this critical zone.” Click here to read the story 10:25

Shrimp industry instability ‘nerve wracking’

When Rodrick Cornick bought into the inshore shrimp fishery three years ago he expected a better future. Cornick operates the Atlantic Explorer, co-owned with Terrence House, based out of Port aux Choix. They fish for shrimp in area 6 out of St. Anthony. When Cornick bought a share of the enterprise in 2014, he says his shrimp quota would have been equivalent to 1.1 million pounds. At that time, he had little idea what was to come. “Here in the gulf area, the shrimp fishery has been on the go for 40 years and has been fairly consistent,” explains Cornick. “And down in area 6, the banks lent me money based on 20 years of steady allocations.” Then the bottom fell out.,, Cornick also questions the methodology used by DFO to determine the shrimp biomass. read the story, click here 14:11

DFO slashes crab quota in latest blow to N.L. fishing industry

In yet another blow to the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry, federal fisheries has announced that the total allowable catch for snow crab will be cut by 22 per cent this year. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced Monday that the quota for the region has been set at 35,419 tonnes. The largest hit is in fishing area 3L, east of the Avalon Peninsula, where the bulk of the quota is harvested. Harvesters there will endure a 26 per cent cut in quota, down to less than 25,000 tonnes. The cut was expected, with scientists saying the resource has plummeted in recent years, but that’s little comfort to the thousands of harvesters and plant workers who depend on the fishery. continue reading the story here 13:17

Rural NL faces devastation in light of drastic cuts to northern shrimp quota

ST. JOHN’S – Yesterday evening, the federal government announced a 63 per cent cut to inshore northern shrimp quota in fishing area 6. The FFAW is calling on the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to reconsider the radical nature of these cuts, and once again calls for the offshore to be removed from shrimp fishing area (SFA) 6. The total allowable catch for SFA 6 went from 48,196 tons in 2015 to 27,825 tons in 2016, to a dismal 10,400 tons announced for 2017. This amounts to a 78 per cent quota reduction over two years. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) slashed harvest rates from 20 per cent in 2016 to 10 per cent in 2017. These dramatic cuts to the harvest rate are not in line with the reduction in the northern shrimp biomass. The decline in northern shrimp is not due to overfishing, rather it is a result of an environmental shift in the ocean ecosystem. As groundfish stocks rebuild, it is inevitable that shellfish stocks in the area will continue to decline. Read the press release here 09:36

Report: Newfoundland cod stocks on rebound, but still at critically low levels

A new federal report says northern cod stocks off eastern Newfoundland continue to grow 25 years after a sweeping moratorium, but warns they remain in the “critical zone.” The Fisheries and Oceans Canada update concludes fishing should be kept to the lowest possible levels as a precaution. It finds that while total biomass was up seven per cent from 2015 to 2016, stocks are still at critically low levels. The report says there was a spawning biomass of about 300,000 tonnes in 2015. Fisheries biologist Karen Dwyer says a spawning biomass of about 900,000 tonnes would support a more extensive commercial fishery. Link 10:55

Stakeholders hope for more input, more preparedness for potential cod fishery

When it comes to a rebuilding plan for the northern cod stocks, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union wants the government to remember why it’s important to plan for the longevity for the groundfish off the province’s northeast coasts. “That fishery and the way it was, was the lifeblood of many, many communities around rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” FFAW secretary treasurer Dave Decker says. “It’s important that as we are rebuilding that stock … we keep focus on why we’re rebuilding fisheries and it’s to rejuvenate the same communities. Decker took comfort that towns and harvesters affected by a cod moratorium that will celebrate a 25-year anniversary this year weren’t forgotten in a standing committee on fisheries and oceans report tabled in the House of Commons Monday. Ken McDonald, Member of Parliament for Avalon, who initially motioned for the study last February, is hopeful that investments into DFO last year to create 135 new jobs for research scientists following years of cutbacks will help facilitate those assessments.  continue reading the article here 22:15

Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker DFO should listen to harvesters seeing different catch rates than DFO scientists

Not all Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters are witnessing such a dramatic decline in shellfish stocks, according to provincial Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker, who said the federal government should listen to local fishermen when deciding upcoming quotas. Local fish harvesters are seeing catch rates that don’t match up with the analysis produced by DFO scientists, according to Crocker. That analysis showed major declines in shrimp and snow crab biomass, and hinted at a dire situation for fish harvesters who rely on those stocks to make a living. Crocker said he would be speaking to federal Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc this week, and would urge him to listen to local fish harvesters. Read the story here 10:08

Commercial sockeye fishery faces closure on North Coast

If the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were using a Magic 8 Ball to determine the future of sockeye salmon fishery in the Skeena the answer would be — Outlook Not So Good. Early forecasts for sockeye salmon are poor and there is a possibility there won’t be a commercial fishery for the year. “We’re facing a really challenging year,” said Colin Masson, DFO’s area director for the North Coast. The forecasts are based on the sockeye that went to sea in 2014 and 2015, as well as the number of sockeye jacks, the premature fish who return a year early. Both indicators suggest the outlook is not good. For DFO to plan commercial fisheries, the total return of sockeye has to be greater than 1.05 million. continue reading the story here 10:50

Northumberland Fishermen’s Association wants carapace size increase

For over two years, the local Northumberland Fishermen’s Association has been wanting an increase in lobster carapace size from the Minister of Fisheries and for two years they’ve waited for an answer. “They’re dragging their feet,” says Northumberland’s Fishermen’s Association President Ron Heighton. In early 2015, the association met with Fisheries and Oceans and other fishing organizations to discuss and agree to potential changes to the lobster industry in order to increase the carapace lobster size within a two-year window. At that time, after a ballot vote was distributed among all the lobster fishers in lobster fishing area 26A in Nova Scotia with the majority voting for an increase in carapace size. The carapace is the part of the body between the lobster’s eyes and its tail. Fishermen who catch undersized lobster have to throw them back. Two years later, there has been no decision reached by Fisheries and Oceans about implementing a size increase for the upcoming lobster season, Heighton said. Read the story here 14:23

Six pilot studies test sea urchin farming in Canada

Federal scientists and others are exploring the possibility of sea urchin farming in Canada, with at least six pilot studies using Norwegian technology that proponents hope will turn “zombie” urchins which can denude kelp beds into profitable seafood. The first of the studies, conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is expected to start next week in waters off Vancouver Island, with others planned for Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Wild urchins are harvested in B.C. and elsewhere, but aren’t farmed commercially anywhere in Canada — yet. But the efforts to birth a new aquaculture industry are already running into questions about the ecological cost. Read the story here 09:11

Controlling Agreement? Labrador fisherman Kirby Elson is ending his legal challenge filed with the Federal Court

Nova Scotia fish harvester Susan Beaton is breathing a little easier now that a legal challenge that could have overturned the rules protecting the independence of Atlantic Canada’s inshore fishery appears to be over. “I think it’s very good news, at least for those of us who care about the owner-operator policy,” said Beaton, who is from Antigonish. The federal government’s owner-operator policy stipulates the main benefits of inshore fishing licences must go to the licence holders. Kirby Elson, a fisherman from Cartwright N.L., a small fishing town in Labrador, had launched a legal challenge, appealing a decision by the federal fisheries minister to take away his commercial fishing licences. But the case ended quietly and abruptly this week when Elson notified his lawyers Jan. 10 that he wanted to “immediately withdraw from this litigation,” according to documents filed with the Federal Court. Elson had refused to obey a DFO requirement that he exit a so-called “controlling agreement” with two Newfoundland and Labrador fish processors. Read the story here 19:31

DFO says nothing out of the ordinary with the environment where sea creatures washed up dead

The distressing amount of sea life and diversity of species found dead on some beaches along the Bay of Fundy over the past few weeks has been puzzling. So far, tests haven’t revealed what’s killing the sea life. Federal scientists went out on the water Thursday to examine the physical environment, taking water samples, testing dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature — all of which were normal. They also scanned images of the bottom of St. Marys Bay off the Bay of Fundy. The video showed normal conditions with no masses of dead organisms that one would expect if the cause was an ongoing environmental problem. “We have ruled out the usual suspects,” said Kent Smedbol, manager of population ecology for DFO. Read the story here 15:31

FFAW’s 5-cent-a-pound lobster ‘levy’ most shocking of all secrets uncovered in 2016

Of all the questions that have been raised about FFAW secrecy/conflict of interest in recent months, one of the most shocking discoveries was that the union had proposed a 5 cent a pound ‘levy’ on lobster. Fish harvesters didn’t know about the FFAW proposal (how unbelievable is that?) until FISH-NL brought it to light in early December, and it was the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador who actually killed it (how’s that for the ultimate irony, processors standing up for harvesters — and not their union).  Find details of the FFAW proposal here.  The FFAW argued the 5 cent levy was to cover the union’s “management” of the fishery. To quote the union: “The bulk of the work once conducted by DFO is now being done by the FFAW, with no financial or in-kind support from the processing sector.”  Read the rest of the post here, and open FFAW proposal.

Controlling Agreements – To fish or control?

On Nov. 14, Nova Scotia fisherman Graeme Gawn told a Parliamentary committee that “thousands of inshore” fishermen have been “disenfranchised from their traditional fisheries.” Mr. Gawn was referring to the fact that many fishermen have yielded control of their licences to corporations. The consolidation of inshore licences is supposedly illegal. Under Canada’s Policy for Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries, the holders of individual (owner-operator) fishing licences are supposed to harvest and sell their own catch. As former Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea stated, the policy is designed to “ensure that inshore fish harvesters remain independent, and that the benefits of fishing licences flow to Atlantic coastal communities.” It doesn’t always work out that way. Read the op-ed here 09:51

Fishing over the line – Digby DFO seizes 195 traps and $8,000 worth of lobster

ns-lobster-zonesFishery officers arrested a lobster fisherman for setting traps on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy a week before that area opens. Digby fishery officers seized 195 traps Nov. 2 and 3 after conducting a patrol of the line between Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 35 and LFA 36 and inspecting gear. Fishery officer Jacklyn Titus says the officers found a number of trawls in a closed area. As a result of inspection of some of the gear, fishery officers arrested one individual and seized approximately 1,300 pounds of lobster. The Department of Fisheries has sold that catch and will hold the money in trust while awaiting the outcome of court proceedings. Shore price is about $6.50 these days making the lobster worth about $8,450. Titus says charges are pending. Read the rest here 11:38

Editorial: Auditor General scrutinizes DFO’s fish stock management

envie-sustain-development-commish-julie-gelfeldIn a province that has the Pacific Salmon as an official emblem, it’s surprising that a report from the federal Auditor General on the management of fish stocks by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans didn’t get more attention. The audit, conducted by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (part of the Auditor General’s office), disclosed a number of deficiencies that should have raised concerns, if not alarm. For example, it found only three of 15 critically depleted stocks had rebuilding plans, increasing the risk that depleted stocks won’t recover. Moreover, of 154 fish stocks, 44 were either missing integrated fish management plans or the plans were out of date. Among other problems the audit identified, third-party observers hired by fishing companies sometimes failed to comply with program requirements but DFO had little recourse other than revoking their designation, which would have deprived it of catch data. Read the op-ed here 13:21

Nova Scotia’s ancient cold-water corals protected by fishing ban

some-of-the-corals-live-for-a-thousand-years-this-model-shows-what-they-look-likeFisheries and Oceans Canada says its decision to protect more than 9,000 square kilometres of ocean bottom off Nova Scotia will have a minimal impact on the province’s fishing industry and a major impact in saving ancient cold water corals. Canada is banning all forms of bottom fishing in two areas:  Forty-nine square kilometres in the Jordan Basin 100 kilometres west of Nova Scotia, and Nine thousand square kilometres in two underwater canyons — Corsair and Georges canyons farther from the coast, by Georges Bank. The corals can live for 1,000 years. The protections are part of the federal government commitment to protect 10 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2020.  The change bans people from lobster and crab-trap fishing on the bottom, trawl dragging, using a gill net, and hook-and-line fishing that uses anchors. MacDonald said only seven lobster fishermen had catches in the Jordan Basin area closer to shore. Read the rest here 10:34

DFO makes two more major seizures – $90,000 worth of scallops and then lobster, a truck and a boat

dfo-seized-lobster-scallop-digbyFishery officers in Digby and Meteghan have made two more significant seizures. About noontime Sept. 21, Fishery Officers from Digby unloaded 160 bags of scallops at the Digby wharf. Fishery officer Jacklyn Titus told the Courier that the officers had conducted an inspection of a commercial scallop vessel on the Bay of Fundy and detected alleged violations. Titus says one individual was arrested and released and charges are pending. The 6,200 pounds of scallops were sold for $90,000, which will be held in trust pending the outcome of court proceedings. In a separate incident Sept. 22 in Weymouth, Fishery Officers arrested two individuals after an Aboriginal Food Fishery inspection. Officers seized 675 pounds of live lobster, a truck and small size fishing vessel. Includes a list of seizures, arrests and sentences from this summer. Read the rest here 14:40

Cape Breton fishermen plead guilty to fishing closed area off Digby Neck

callie-rae-fish-violationsKevin and Paul Cormier, father and son from New Waterford, were not in Digby Provincial Court Sept. 18, but their lawyer entered guilty pleas for them on charges of fishing in a closed area, fishing with untagged traps and fishing without the person named in the licence. The federal crown attorney Alex Pink told the court that Fishery Officers on a routine patrol off Digby Neck found a trawl of 20 traps set in Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 34 on Nov. 15, 2015. The Fishery Officers seized those traps, which were about 900 metres inside LFA 34, which doesn’t open until the end of November. Fisheries officers then watched with binoculars as fishermen on the lobster boat Callie Ray dragged two more trawls, or 40 traps total, from LFA 34 over the line into LFA 35, which was open at the time. Read the story here 17:52

Entangled Humpback rescued from fish farm ropes by fisheries officials

humpback-in-fish-farmA juvenile humpback whale was thrashing in the water north of Klemtu, B.C. yesterday for 12 hours, struggling to breathe as ropes from an empty aquaculture site cut into its flesh and blubber. Marine Harvest workers discovered the entangled whale Monday morning and immediately called Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the company said in a statement. Paul Cottrell, DFO’s marine mammal coordinator, caught the first plane from Vancouver to conduct the complicated rescue, with help from local fisheries officers, the company and members of the Kitasoo First Nation. The team needed to cut at least four ropes to free the young whale, but that’s not as quick and easy as it sounds. Video, read the rest here 09:52

Arrests and seizures – DFO releases another 2,500 pounds of lobster into Digby harbor!

article_large dfo arrestsJust days after seizing 1,350 pounds of lobster and returning the live fish into the Annapolis Basin on Aug. 26, Fishery officers from Digby made another series of on the evening of Aug. 30. Fishery officer Corey Webster says both incidents took place in Margaretsville, both involved alleged infractions under the Aboriginal Food Social and Ceremonial fishery and some of the same individuals were arrested in both cases. Officer Webster says charges are still pending in both cases. “We hadn’t even had time to process the first incident before this second one happened,” said Webster. Link 11:43

DFO seized, returned 1,350 pounds of lobster into the Annapolis Basin

article_large lobsters released dfoA half dozen officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada took a dozen crates of lobster onto a floating dock at the Digby wharf Aug. 26, took the bands off the lobster and put the crustaceans back in the water. Fishery officer Jacklyn Titus said officers seized the 1,350 pounds of lobster earlier on Aug. 26 after an investigation on board a fishing vessel in Margaretville involved with the Aboriginal Food Fishery. Six people were arrested as a result of that investigation. All were later released. Titus says charges are pending. Click here for more photo 12:00

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

DFO crackdown in northern B.C. – “They’re screwing us.”

tom-hlavac-acting-regional-director-for-conservation-and-protection-pacific-regionCommercial fishermen on B.C.’s North Coast are upset by what they’re calling an unprecedented and unfair Fisheries and Oceans Canada crackdown. Chris Peterson, a skipper who has been fishing commercially off the coast of Prince Rupert for 40 years, says the DFO has gone too far. “I have never seen anything like this,” Peterson said of the extra enforcement officers. “There were 17 of them on one boat last week — 17!”  Most of the fishermen point to July 27 as the beginning of the conflict. That’s the day Hartley Bay Band Council Chief and fisherman Arnold Clifton was boarded by two DFO officers. “I was in the washroom on the boat when all hell broke loose,” Clifton recalled, describing rude treatment from the officers.  He was fined, and then boarded again two days later, this time by even more DFO officials. Read the story here, with audio clip 08:10

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

Qikiqtaaluk Corp. may lose $2M as a result of cuts to shrimp quota in Nova Scotia

f-v-saputiQikiqtaaluk Corporation, which had one of its vessels damaged earlier this year from striking ice, is now concerned reductions to the Northern shrimp quota for offshore trawlers in Nova Scotia will hurt its bottom line even more. The quota reduction mainly affects companies in Nova Scotia. However, Qikiqtaaluk, the biggest fishing company in Nunavut, also fishes those waters during the winter months. “Having this other announcement is another blow,” said Harry Flaherty, president and CEO of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation. Qikiqtaaluk lost approximately $4 million when the F/V Saputi struck ice in February. It had to be shipped to Poland for repairs and the company also lost months of valuable fishing time, said Flaherty. Now, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada announcement on quote reductions means Qikiqtaaluk may lose an additional $2 million in shrimp stock, said Flaherty. Read the rest here 09:59

Freeport fisherman prohibited from fishing for five months

Beau Gillis of FreeportA Freeport fisherman will have to miss five months of ground fishing next year. Beau Gillis pled guilty July 11 to failure to hail accurate weight of fish on board a vessel, possessing halibut less than 81 centimetres in length, offloading fish without a monitor, and possessing fish that cannot be identified. Department of Fisheries officers say they noticed suspicious behaviour during a surveillance patrol on Long Island on June 10, 2015. Fishery Officers pulled over Gillis and seized his truck and 1,134 pounds of halibut worth $11,340. Judge Timothy Landry ordered the forfeiture of Gillis’ truck and the proceeds from the fish plus fines totalling $10,000. Read the rest here 12:21

Nova Scotia scallop fishery to experiment with diver-caught scallops

scallopsDiver-caught scallops are a premium item on some Nova Scotia restaurant menus, but until now the shellfish served often came from as far away as Mexico. That’s about to change. Beginning Saturday, a team of commercial divers will be permitted to hand-pick scallops from the floor of the Bay of Fundy, between Digby and Digby Neck. The federal Fisheries and Oceans Department recently approved the commercial project. “These are commercial scuba divers who usually fish for urchins. What they’re basically doing is they are going out on a dive boat to … scallop beds, jump in the water with full scuba gear — includes a dry suit because it is mighty cold down there — and they basically just hand-forage them, one at a time and put them into dive bags,” Justin Cantafio, sustainable fisheries campaigner with the Ecology Action Centre, told CBC’s Information Morning in Halifax. Read the story here 16:57

The domino effect. Fisheries policy raising the carapace measure risks dividing fishermen

lobster-sizeThe domino effect. That’s sort of what lobster fishermen in P.E.I. are up against after the Federal Fisheries Department decided the carapace measure has to go up in Lobster Fishing Area 25. Prince Edward Island’s 225 fall fishermen share Northumberland Strait’s LFA 25 with 470 New Brunswick boats and 16 from Nova Scotia. It’s a narrow strip of water, so it’s impossible to draw a line through the middle of it and keep the Island boats on one side of the line and leave the other side to the mainlanders. Despite fishing the same body of water, the fishermen on either side of the puddle – or at least the organizations representing them – have opposing views on what the minimum carapace size should be. Read the op-ed here 11:58

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

DFO justifies Area 6 northern shrimp catch by offshore fleet

Northern_Pink_ShrimpFisheries and Oceans Canada is defending its decision to allow offshore factory freezer trawlers to catch northern shrimp this spring, even though its own scientists say the stock is vulnerable to collapse. Inshore fishermen have criticized the fishing, because 2016 quotas have not yet been set, and could be cut significantly. Glenn Best, who fishes shrimp off Fogo Island, said the so-called “bridging policy” should not have been applied in Area 6 at a time when stocks are under review. “The [cod] moratorium would be a walk in the park compared to what’s going to happen if we lose this shrimp,” he said. “This is the bread and butter. This is what sustains communities from Fogo Island to St. Anthony to southern Labrador. We need this shrimp. Why are we taking chances with it?” Read the rest here 10:10

Letter: Follow the leaders in fisheries management – Gus Etchegary Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s

dfocrestI have recently been in contact with former associates in Iceland, Norway and other advanced fishing nations on the status of their fishing industries, including fisheries management, processing technology, customer demands (for fresh, primary and secondary-processed fish products) and ongoing technical advances. I also questioned how these developments impact prices paid to fishermen and processing plant labour. As a result of impressive technical advances made in Iceland, Norway and Alaska in resource management and other key areas from processing higher quality fish and market development, their industries are now paying far higher prices to fishermen and higher wages to processors. Of even greater significance is the enormous contribution their fishing industry is making to their respective economies. Read the rest here 09:58

Report suggests snow crab in decline

canadian snow crabJamie Rose hopes the numbers are as wrong as he thinks they are. That was the St. Anthony fisherman’s reaction to a snow crab report that was recently released by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat. The annual report examined fishing areas 2HJ3KLNOP4R and it paints a bleak future for the upcoming season. The index-based report suggests exploitable biomass – large male crab – has declined to its lowest observed level in the last two decades of study, dropping from a highpoint of nearly 70 in the mid-‘90s to a all time low of around 10. Recruitment appears to have bottomed out. The index level is sitting around three points, which dropped from around 15 over the last five years. Read the rest here 11:26

Crab fishing – handling and releasing wolffish

Crab fishermen! Wolffish are at risk. You can contribute to their recovery. If you catch some by accident, handle them carefully and release them as quickly as possible. 17:43

Fishermen raise concerns over proposed measures that could harm lobster fishery

2016-03-18-01-58-17-YV-22032016-fishermen%20oneIt was a concerned and frustrated group of fishermen that met with DFO officials Thursday in Yarmouth during a special meeting of the Lobster Fishing Area 34 Advisory Committee. The fishermen say proposed measures to help in the recovery of the cusk population – including a potential 10 per cent trap reduction for lobster licence holders – are based on incorrect data and, if implemented, would hurt the lobster industry. The LFA committee passed a motion to have another meeting in June, once the lobster season is over, with DFO and others to discuss the issue further. Fishermen attending the March 17 session said there doesn’t seem to be a problem with the cusk population and that the measures DFO is considering are unnecessary. Read the rest here 08:12

Coldwater Lobster Association wants more members, says many issues facing Nova Scotia industry

article_large coldwaterColdwater Lobster Association, covering Lobster Fishing Area 34 in southwestern Nova Scotia, says there are issues that could have dire outcomes on the lobster industry. The association has around 80 members but says it would have more clout at the table with DFO and other groups if it was speaking for a larger percentage of the industry. One issue is a pending decision on whether to list cusk under the Species at Risk Act. COSEWIC(Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) is collecting opinion online and through consultations until March 18. The committee says the mature portion of the cusk population has declined by 85 per cent over three generations. Read the rest here 11:29

B.C. First Nation vows to stop herring roe fishery in its territory

The Tla’amin First Nation has served notice that it will take action to halt any commercial herring roe fishery in its traditional territory. A band council resolution sent to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says a commercial fishery would cause “irreversible damage” to a herring stock that is just showing signs of recovery after a catastrophic collapse in the 1980s. “If the decision of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is to proceed with the commercial herring fishery, Tla’amin Nation will take steps to restrain the mismanagement of the fishery,” the resolution reads. A DFO manager alerted the band’s fisheries manager Kevin Timothy to the possibility of a commercial opening in waters near Powell River. Read the rest here 08:24

FFAW-Unifor NEWS RELEASE: Thousands of Jobs at Risk in Northern Shrimp Fishery

SHRIMP-master675Thursday, February 25, 2016 St. John’s – Thousands of harvesting and processing jobs in rural Newfoundland and Labrador may be lost if the current fisheries management policies for northern shrimp are maintained. The Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor) is providing further details on the impact of sharp declines in the northern shrimp stock as outlined in Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) stock status report. “The implications of the stock status report, if they are confirmed, will be challenging if DFO’s quota allocation policies do not change,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the FFAW. Read the press release here 11:56

For some reason, codfish off the province’s south coast aren’t living to a ripe old age.

2016-02-14-08-51-06-TEL-16022016-3PsCodStocks_cc%20clone.1“The obvious question is what’s going on?” said Rick Rideout, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Rideout was the lead scientist on DFO’s science advisory report for last fall’s 3Ps cod stock assessment. The number of new fish in 3Ps seems to have improved in recent years, Rideout said Thursday, but the stock’s trajectory has taken a downward turn. “It’s above the limit reference point, but it’s certainly below the target of where we’d like it to be,” he said. There’s certainly some reason for concern, yeah.” Read the rest here 07:44

Fish stocks for sale – Maurice Adams, Paradise

With the respect to John Gillett’s recent letter (“Fishermen never wanted a big brother”), let me say that with the amendment to the NAFO agreement a few years ago (voted down by the House of Commons) but with the support of the province, industry and the union, passed anyway by the Harper government, NAFO nations are taking over where DFO is leaving off. Since then there have been several attempts to use $400 million in tax dollars ($280 million from Ottawa) to again “rationalize” the inshore fishery (remember the province’s big, $400-million MOU?) — all with the objective of shutting down the plants and the inshore fishery that brought almost a million dollars a year of new money into almost every coastal community. Read the letter here 10:01

Federal agency accused of condemning British Columbia commercial sockeye fleet to feast-or-famine cycle

1361_8.png__0x400_q95_autocrop_crop-smart_subsampling-2_upscaleWhile fishermen in Alaska were enjoying a banner year thanks to massive returns of Bristol Bay sockeye, their counterparts in were pretty much idled, thanks to lower-than-expected returns of sockeye and pink salmon and to what fishermen say is overly cautious escapements. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was not able to provide a final tally on this year’s returns. But Fraser River sockeye returns this year are unofficially being reported to be around two million – about a third of the 6.8 million median forecast – and Fraser River pink,,, Read the article here 15:37

Researching lobster stock trends in southwestern N.S. by tracking juvenile lobsters

lobster tracking dfoEach year researchers collect samples of juvenile lobsters from the ocean floor in Lobster Bay in Yarmouth County and St. Mary’s Bay in Digby County to track levels of juvenile lobster. Three years ago scientists said there were “troubling signs.” Last year they said sampling had yielded the highest levels ever. This year the numbers aren’t as high as they were last year. “The numbers were definitely lower than last year,” says DFO research scientist Adam Cook. “They’re more on par with what we’ve seen in past years, so it is uncertain as to what that means.” Read the article here 12:21

Liberals to reopen Maritime Rescue Sub-centre in St. John’s

hunter-tootooNew federal Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo and the Liberal government will reopen the Maritime Rescue Sub-centre in St. John’s. The Nunavut MP signed the mandate given to him by new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a letter nine days after he was sworn in as the minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The sub-centre was closed in 2012 despite loud outcry from advocates and fishermen. Provincial and municipal politicians — such as St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe —have lobbied since to have it reopened. Read the rest here 08:32

Who ya gonna call? Digby DFO cleans up ghost traps from Bay of Fundy

digby dfo article_large“Our mandate is enforcement and conservation,” said Digby Fisheries officer Corey Webster. “Just like our compliance blitz in St. Mary’s Bay this summer, this is an important job just to make sure everything is cleaned up. And it’s also important for us to be out on the water, just to see what is happening out there.” Fishermen harvest lobster from weighted traps that sit on bottom. They tie a rope to the trap and a buoy keeps that rope floating at the surface to show them where their traps are.  Other fishermen, who may see these errant traps, are not allowed however to haul another fisherman’s traps. Read the rest here 15:22

Growers say DFO dragging its feet on approving cultivation of giant clams in B.C.

In recent years, the demand for the giant clam – especially in China – has sent prices soaring. Geoduck (pronounced gooeyduck) has a landed value of about $10 to $11 per pound in North America and can sell for $30 per pound in China. Geoduck has become so valuable, in fact, that illegal poaching is now raising concerns about the geoduck population in Washington state. B.C. has a wild geoduck industry that is already worth about $47 million a year in sales – more valuable than oyster and clam farming ($33 million). But it is exclusive to divers who hold licences for harvesting the giant clam in the wild. Read the rest here 16:08

26A Lobster season still delayed

Ron Heighton, president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association, said the ice is gone from the local area but the start was delayed until Monday at 6 a.m., because fishermen from the southern portion of P.E.I. were opposed.“They were worried about a little bit of ice,” he said. “We’re ice free but they (DFO) wouldn’t let us go ahead of them. I mean, we don’t share the same bottom so there’d be no impact, right? “We got bullied into it,” he said, because Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is from P.E.I. Read the rest here 19:40

P.E.I. Lobster fishing opening date still unclear

The earliest Prince Edward Island lobster fishermen will be setting traps for the spring fishery is Monday, May 4, according to the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association. However, Association president Craig Avery says boats on the South shore of the Island may have to wait longer than that because, as Avery told CBC Monday, most of the harbours from East Point to Victoria are still iced in. Read the rest here 11:39

P.E.I. Lobster season delayed because of ice conditions, delay surprises P.E.I. Fisherman’s Association

It was the right call to delay the lobster season because some harbours on the Island’s north and south shores are still impassable with ice, says the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association. Fisheries and Oceans Canada sent out the notice Thursday afternoon that fishermen won’t be setting and pulling traps next Thursday, as initially planned, because of ice conditions in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Read the rest here  Lobster season delay surprises P.E.I. fishermen Read the rest here 13:14

$62,500 in fines, fishing prohibitions doled out in Yarmouth County seizure of 6,222 illegal lobsters

The seizure of lobsters by DFO took place on April 27, 2012, in Comeau’s Hill involving the fishing vessel Melanie Lynn II. In provincial court in Yarmouth on Friday, April 17, Earl Patrick Boudreau, 51, and Dennis Joseph Clairmont, 62, pleaded guilty to possession of undersized lobsters measuring less than 82.5 millimetres. At the time of the 2012 seizure DFO said the lobsters had been stored in about two-dozen holding cases and crates. DFO also doesn’t know for certain where they were destined. Read the rest here 16:28

Atlantic sturgeon season approved as DFO ponders species status

A small commercial fishery for Atlantic sturgeon in the St. John River will begin as usual next month, despite a looming federal decision on whether to list the giant fish under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Mike Dadswell, a retired Acadia University sturgeon researcher, says the report contains errors and out-of-date information. He said the population size of up to 2,000 breeding fish used by COSEWIC is a significant underestimate, and puts the true number of around 11,500, which he says is “close to the virgin population of 11,000 adults in 1880.” Read the rest here 07:40

107 lobster traps set in closed area seized, DFO investigation continuing

There will be charges laid, but what the charges will be hasn’t been determined yet. On Monday, April 6, DFO seized 54 traps off of southwestern Nova Scotia. On Thursday, April 9, another 53 traps were seized. Both seizures took place in Lobster Fishing Area 41, which is an off-shore area where lobster fishing is not authorized by fishermen licensed to fish in Lobster Fishing Area 34 where the lobster fishery is underway. Read the rest here 15:49