Tag Archives: Newfoundland and Labrador

Building blocks of ocean food web in rapid decline as plankton productivity plunges

They’re teeny, tiny plants and organisms but their impact on ocean life is huge.​ Phytoplankton and zooplankton that live near the surface are the base of the ocean’s food system. Everything from small fish, big fish, whales and seabirds depend on their productivity. “They actually determine what’s going to happen, how much energy is going to be available for the rest of the food chain,” explained Pierre Pepin, a senior researcher with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John’s. Pepin says over the past 3-4 years, scientists have seen a persistent drop in phytoplankton and zooplankton in waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. >click to read<10:16

Early ice growth means busy icebreaking season for coast guard vessels, officials in St. John’s say

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker fleet is expecting a busy season with the freeze-up of sea ice occurring three to four weeks ahead of a normal ice year, officials said in St. John’s Tuesday. Brad Durnford, superintendent of ice operations for the Atlantic Region, said during a technical briefing that water temperatures are lower than normal around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland and Labrador, and long-term forecasts show Eastern Canada having a chance of a cooler than normal winter, which will continue the ice growth. >click to read<09:44

Oil spill raises new questions about fast-growing N.L. oil industry

Newfoundland and Labrador’s ambitious plans to dramatically expand the province’s lucrative offshore oil and gas industry got a nasty jolt on Nov. 16. Amid a fierce winter storm, an estimated 250,000 litres of oil spilled into the ocean from Husky Energy’s SeaRose platform, about 350 kilometres from St. John’s. There are currently four platforms producing oil off Newfoundland: Hibernia, Hebron, Terra Nova and SeaRose Expansion plans include a proposed 100 new exploration wells and over 650,000 barrels of oil per day by the year 2030. This long-term vision also includes “shortened time from proceptivity to production.” >click to read<13:53

Nova Scotia looks to keep redfish quota as other provinces want in

A Nova Scotia seafood company is urging the federal government to wait several years before starting a large-scale commercial harvest for redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Also known as ocean perch, the species has made a remarkable comeback after a 25-year moratorium. “This biomass is huge. It’s probably the largest in history,” said Jan Voutier of Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd., a Nova Scotia redfish harvester and processor. It’s believed 3.5 million tonnes of redfish are in the gulf today, setting the stage for a looming interprovincial conflict in Atlantic Canada over who gets a piece of the action.”All of a sudden, everyone wants to rush in and get the pot of gold, as it were,” said Keith Colwell, Nova Scotia’s fisheries minister. >click to read<12:20

Newfoundland and Labrador: Snow crab fishery changes tactics as stocks hit 25-year low

A study six years in the making shows some grim statistics for snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador. The study was released at the same time the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced the crab fishery was moving to a precautionary approach. That means if the crab numbers are low, the total allowable catch will be lowered, meaning less fishing for the province’s harvesters. >click to read<19:11

Harvesters worry their efforts in producing a quality catch will be lost due to delays in grading

With hefty nets, healthy livers and plump fish, harvesters across the central region are seeing signs of a healthy and rebounding cod fishery this summer. But fishers and union representatives agree, the most pivotal mark to grow this future fishery is not in quantity but in producing a quality grade codfish. “The only thing that’s going to do it for us is quality,” Salvage harvester Gordon Janes said. “Norway and Iceland got it down to a science, and the fish we put out in comparison to them is very little. In recent years, harvesters have been encouraged in a variety of techniques for producing a fresher and higher-quality fish. These techniques include an emphasis on more fish caught through hook and line, decreasing the amount of time harvesters leave out gillnets, pulling out the fish’s gills to drain the blood from its fillets, and gutting the fish and putting it in ice immediately after it’s caught. >click to read<11:09

More Waiting – Labour board to decide number of full-time inshore fish harvesters

After 500 years of fishing history you’d probably think it would be easy enough in Newfoundland and Labrador to determine who is and who is not a true, full-time fisherman. Yet, with so many people over the years dipping into the fishery for full-time, part-time or one-time earnings — and with often blurred lines as to who makes up part of a fishing crew — it’s not that straightforward. And that became apparent during a hearing held by the province’s Labour Relations Board Monday in St. John’s regarding an application by FISH-NL for certification to represent the province’s commercial inshore fishermen — fishermen who are currently represented by FFAW-Unifor. >click to read<08:31

Fisheries and Oceans quietly cancels plans to award Indigenous surf clam licence

The federal government says it has cancelled plans to issue a controversial clam fishing licence to a First Nations company with ties to the Liberal party and several sitting Liberal MPs — including the former fisheries minister. A news release from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the process to issue a fourth licence to harvest arctic surf clam off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia was cancelled in early July, and that it won’t be issued this year at all. That multimillion-dollar licence was supposed to go to the Five Nations Clam Co., a company court documents suggest did not initially meet key eligibility requirements spelled out in the government’s tender process. >click to read<15:16

UNCLOS – Bay du Nord oil could become 1st in world to see payments flow to UN’s International Seabed Authority

A deepwater oil project 500 kilometres from St. John’s could generate a rich stream of revenue for Newfoundland and Labrador and tax benefits for Ottawa — but it also could eventually see funds flow all the way to the United Nations. And that raises the question of who ultimately would foot the bill for those payments to the UN. The $6.8-billion Bay du Nord project, announced Thursday by the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the Norwegian oil company Equinor, is poised to become the first oil field to fall under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Canada signed on to UNCLOS in 2003. >click to read<11:56

N.L., Equinor announce $6.8B offshore deepwater oil project

Newfoundland and Labrador and Equinor Canada have announced an agreement to develop the Bay du Nord oil project — the first remote, deepwater project in the province’s offshore. The province is buying 10 per cent of the project, which should bring in $3.5 billion in government revenues and will cost $6.8 billion to develop. “Today marks the global recognition of Newfoundland and Labrador as a preferred location for deepwater production,” said Premier Dwight Ball Thursday morning.,, Ball was joined by Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady and Unni Fjaer, a vice-president with Equinor Canada — previously known as Statoil. >click to read<14:17

FISH-NL demands Ottawa explain itself in light of massive cuts to caplin quotas

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is demanding Ottawa explain itself in light of huge cuts to caplin quotas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off eastern and southern Newfoundland and Labrador. “This is a banner year for caplin in the Gulf with the federal government’s own scientists reporting an abundance of fish not seen in years, and yet the quota has been cut by 35 per cent,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “How does that make sense? It doesn’t.” “At the same time, scientists said in March that the caplin stock off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador was down 70 per cent, but the relatively small commercial fishery isn’t having an impact,” he added. >click to read<11:57

For the Love of Cod – the fight over fish stocks may well spell the end of cod fishers—or cod

A hard exhale escapes Sherrylynn Rowe before she can help herself. “It was so disappointing,” she says. A Canadian federal government report, released in March 2018, showed that the number of northern cod of spawning age in the Canadian North Atlantic was down 30 percent from just last year. It was a devastating turn. Northern cod had been fished to near extinction in the early 1990s and it had started to look like they were finally beginning to rebound. But now the population—which had been expected to increase again this year—was shrinking fast, brought on by an unexpectedly high rate of natural deaths. >click to read<07:53

Newfoundland and Labrador seeks markets for seal products

Governments, organizations promote diversification of products to create more markets nationally and internationally – Cull the seals, save the cod. It’s a popular refrain, heard most loudly in Newfoundland and Labrador around this time of year as the Canadian commercial seal hunt is drawing to a close and as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) releases quotas for cod and other groundfish species. The list of countries banning the import of seal products altogether climbed to 35 on the eve of the hunt last month when India — a country of 1.3 billion — joined the likes of the United States, Russia, Mexico and all of Europe. >click to read<09:41

DFO scientists clarify the decline of cod

In a province where the fishery is foundational to its survival, the decline in cod stocks has many worried and searching for clear answers. This announcement was a particular shock as the same assessment in 2016 predicted a considerable increase in cod numbers for this year. But scientists and harvesters who had noted the declines in the cod’s food source, and the many starving fish of last year’s cod fishery, were not as surprised. Research scientist with the department of Fisheries and Oceans Dr. Mariano Koen-Alonso says the sudden and sharp decline in cod stock is something being seen across the ecosystem. >click to read<11:30

FISH-NL calls on Labour Board to conduct vote – FFAW-Unifor’s membership numbers ‘misleading’

Almost 16 months after FISH-NL presented an application for certification, the preliminary report of an investigator with the Labour Relations Board was released last week, with final submissions on Wednesday. The investigator’s report is now in the hands of the Board, which will ultimately decide how to proceed. FISH-NL has estimated the number of inshore harvesters in the province at around 4,500, while the FFAW-Unifor pegs the number at as high as 10,000. The difference is in definition. >click to read<15:50

Dispute between Newfoundland and Labrador at-sea observer, fisherman goes to court

Frustrations within the inshore fishery do not always play out in public protests or in front of the media — some disputes take place on the wharf and, when serious enough, can end up in court.
A recent case out of provincial court in Corner Brook involved a dispute on the wharf between an inshore fisherman and a fisheries observer. The fisherman, Kenneth MacDonald, was accused of failing to comply with conditions of his fishing licence, in that he refused to allow designated at-sea observer Thomas Gavin onboard his vessel last year,,, >click to read<22:15

‘Protected’ marine area open to oil, gas exploration

Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil and gas regulator is taking bids for exploration off the island’s east coast, in an area the federal government recently listed as a marine-protected area. While the area is closed to fishing, it remains open to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) — and that’s not sitting well with the president of the fisheries union. “We cannot ask fish harvesters to accept the closure of an area to fishing activity in the name of conservation while continuing to allow oil and gas exploration in that same area,” said Fish, Food and Allied Workers president Keith Sullivan in a news release.>click to read<13:39

FISH-NL reiterates call for province to allow in outside buyers after panel sets 2018 snow crab price at far less than the mainland

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the decision of the Fish Price Setting Panel to set the 2018 price for snow crab at $4.55 a pound — well below the price paid to crab harvesters in the Maritimes — supports the call to open the provincial market to outside buyers. “When you learn the price of crab in Newfoundland and Labrador has been set at $4.55 a pound on the same day that a crab fisherman in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia is paid $6 a pound it’s very disheartening,” says Jason Sullivan, Captain of FISH-NL’s under 40-foot fleet. >click to read<18:24

FISH-NL calls for independent investigation of ‘epic’ mismanagement of northern cod stock, relationship between DFO and FFAW

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says a dramatic decline in northern cod below 1992’s moratorium level reflects “epic” mismanagement that isn’t characteristic of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans with other fisheries across Canada. In that context, FISH-NL recommends Ottawa initiate an immediate, independent investigation of DFO management in the Newfoundland and Labrador region, and, more specifically, the department’s relationship with the FFAW-Unifor. >click to read<12:47

N.L.’s fish and seafood production dips in 2017

The value of Newfoundland and Labrador’s total fish and seafood production exceeded $1-billion for the third year in a row in 2017 but is down 10 per cent from 2016. The production value for last year was almost $1.3 billion. The provincial government has released its 2017 Seafood Industry Year in Review document. It attributes the decline to a lower market value in both the commercial wild fishery and the aquaculture sector. >click to read<20:02

The 2017 Seafood Industry Year in Review >click to read<

Fisheries management at ‘rock bottom’, N.L. group says

The Fishery Community Alliance is claiming fish that is landed and exported from a number of ports in Newfoundland and Labrador with cold storage facilities is not being properly traced by the province or Ottawa. In a news release Wednesday, March 7, the alliance called the lack of oversight further evidence of negligence in managing the resource on the part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources. The alliance says its members found out about the issue after they became aware of increasing shipments of unprocessed fish leaving the province for final processing. >click to read< 09:21

Minister should continue proportionate quota sharing approach with northern shrimp

An anticipated decrease in northern shrimp quotas in key shrimp fishing areas off Newfoundland and Labrador this year should result in the same proportionate quota sharing approach established last year, says the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP). “Nobody likes to see a reduction in their quota, but in an area where the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) needs to be reduced, it is important that all fishers share these reductions in proportion to their share of the fishing quotas.” A major Northern Shrimp Advisory committee meeting is being held in Montreal today. >click to read<16:40

Newfoundland and Labrador calls on Ottawa to quash surf clam fishing licence

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is demanding Ottawa reverse its decision to award a lucrative Arctic surf clam fishing licence to a Nova Scotia company that says it has Indigenous partners from every Atlantic province and Quebec. Newfoundland Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne says the Five Nations Clam Company does not have any Indigenous partners from Newfoundland and Labrador, despite a federal statement that claims otherwise. >click to read< 15:44

DFO says Snow crab biomass relatively unchanged

Snow crab stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador remain at low levels going into this spring’s fishery, and while that may result in status quo or lower quotas, there is optimism for coming years. The optimism may only hold true if measures are taken to further protect an apparent increase in small and medium-sized crab being seen in most areas of the province. A technical briefing held by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Monday morning in St. John’s showed that while the snow crab biomass remains relatively unchanged from last year, more favourable water temperatures for crab have resulted in better production in the last couple of years. >click to read< 22:01

Key northern shrimp stock off N.L. down again

Details of the latest northern shrimp stock assessment were released Friday with key Shrimp Fishing Area (SFA) 6 off the province’s northeast coast looking pretty grim. Fishable biomass is down 16 per cent and spawning stock biomass is down 19 per cent in SFA 6, thus leaving shrimp in that area in the critical zone of the precautionary approach framework employed by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) science. That will likely translate into another drop in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the area,,, >click to read< 16:34

FISH-NL commends Ottawa on new lifeboat stations, but search-and-rescue helicopters still work banker’s hours

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says Ottawa’s commitment to new lifeboat stations in this province is commendable, but it’s not the No. 1 search-and-rescue issue facing mariners “The Canadian military’s Gander-based, search-and-rescue Cormorant helicopters are the fastest form of rescue and they still operate on banker’s hours,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “A lifeboat won’t cut it when the survival time in the North Atlantic — in the absence of a survival suit — is measured in minutes.” click to read the press release 18:28

Fishermen greatly affected by announced marine refuges, union says

The Hawke Channel (off the southeast coast of Labrador) and Funk Island Deep (off the northeast coast of the island) marine refuges will be closed to all fishing activity to help conserve seafloor habitat that is important to the recovering northern cod stocks. The Northeast Newfoundland Slope, formerly known as Tobin’s Point, is an area off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador just inside the 200-mile limit. It is thought to contain key spawning and breeding grounds, nurseries and refuges for many aquatic species. click here to read the story 08:37

Bluefin tuna in P.E.I. are so hungry they no longer fear humans

Bobbing up and down on cold Atlantic waters, several fishermen toss scaly, silver mackerel overboard. It’s a delicious snack for a bluefin tuna — the largest species of tuna in the world, measuring more than six feet in length and weighing up to 1,600 pounds. The newcomer among them, a writer and ecologist, expects to spend the afternoon patiently waiting for a bite. Instead, the bluefin tuna here in North Lake, P.E.I. are so abundant and so hungry that within minutes their trademark yellow caudal finlets are circling the boat. click here to read the story 18:29

Newfoundland and Labrador cod stocks rebounding, but still critical

Cod stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador have shown “tremendous progress” in recovery over the past several years, but the species is still in critical shape. That’s what delegates at a cod conference in Gander heard Tuesday, Nov. 28. The conference, titled “Cod: Building the Future of the Fishery” and organized by the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI), provided updated figures from the 2016 cod stock assessment. click here to read the story 12:31

First Nation groups in Newfoundland and Labrador coming together to apply for new surf clam licence

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band is looking at getting in on another fishing enterprise. Earlier this year, Qalipu announced it was teaming up with the Barry Group in pursuing a quota to harvest ocean perch off western Newfoundland. Monday, three Indigenous groups from Newfoundland and Labrador, including Qalipu, the Miawpukek First Nation and the Innu Nation, announced they will be partnering to apply for a new Artic surf clam licence being made available by the federal government. click here to read the story 09:20