Tag Archives: Atlantic Canada

Herring stock struggles continue

Herring stocks in the south of the Gulf of St. Lawrence continues to struggle as the federal moratorium on spring herring fishing passes the two-year mark. Herring in Atlantic Canada is split into two stocks, corresponding with the breeding cycles of the fish. While spring herring stocks protected by the moratorium continue to struggle, fall herring can be fished sustainably and are not under a moratorium. Herring is an ideal species for bait and is a favourite for crustacean fishers. With spring herring stocks under moratorium, fishers in Atlantic Canada are forced to turn to alternative fish stocks. Mark Prevost, one of three co-owners of the alternative bait company Bait Masters, feels strongly about sustainability and shared concerns with SaltWire about the future of other fish stocks taking the brunt of the herring stock closure. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 12:23

NL Harvesters Say Thanks For Nothing, Bait Fishery Slap in the Face to License Holders

This morning, the federal government announced a bait fishery for Atlantic mackerel in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. A bait fishery for mackerel will do nothing for harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador, and harvesters are demanding a modest directed commercial quota for the province. “Newfoundland and Labrador has a history of a fully monitored directed fishery that provided top quality product in a traditionally fall fishery. FFAW-Unifor’s proposal for a directed fishery with temporal coverage would bridge the existing information gaps,” says FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle. “Moreover, today’s release is not clear what portion Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters would receive and when,” Spingle says. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 13:36

Lobster harvesters in Atlantic Canada to vote on increasing minimum legal size this year

At stake is maintaining access to the United States market. “It will be an individual vote. That’s a big decision that every single enterprise and owner has to look at from their own business,” said Heather Mulock, executive director of the Coldwater Lobster Association, which represents fishermen in lobster fishing area 34 (LFA 34). In late May or June, the 979 licence holders in the area will be asked to vote on whether to match increases in allowable U.S. catch measurements that will come into effect Jan. 1, 2025, and again in 2027. Live Canadian lobster that fall under the new limits would not be allowed into the U.S. That includes bonded shipments of lobster under the new minimum in the U.S., according to an information package sent to fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia. That could block trucking of “undersized” Canadian lobster across the border for flights to Asia from airports in Boston or New York. more, >>click to read<< 08: 57

Putting the Cart Before the Redfish

This was supposed to be a good-news story. In Atlantic Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, redfish have returned from the brink. Nearly 30 years after the fishery was closed, redfish populations have rebounded. Fishers, who have suffered through years of fisheries closures and widespread stock declines, have been eagerly eyeing the reemergence of the resource. But in early 2024, when Canadian fisheries minister Diane Lebouthillier declared that the redfish fishery would reopen later this year, keen observers received the announcement with apprehension. And now, as the reopening draws near—the tentative start date is June 15—conservationists and fishers say that climate change, shifts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem, and unfavorable market conditions mean the fishery is unlikely to be the boon many are anticipating. This change of perspective hinges, in part, on research by scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that shows redfish have stopped growing. more, >>click to read<< 12:38

No signs of herring stocks rebounding 2 years into moratorium, DFO says

Two years into a moratorium on the East Coast’s spring herring fishery, biologists say the stock isn’t improving. Fisheries and Oceans Canada put a moratorium on fishing for herring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on the mackerel fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, on March 30, 2022. At the time, the department said urgent action had to be taken to give the stocks a chance to recover and to ensure the long-term sustainability and prosperity of East Coast fisheries.  DFO biologist Laurie Maynard said that over the last two years of evaluation, the herring stock has plateaued at around 30,000 tonnes, but isn’t showing signs of growth. more, >>click to read<< 14:58

Closure of Eastern Seafood | The end for Matane shrimp?

A few days before the start of the fishing season, the oldest shrimp processing plant in Quebec closes its doors. The Danish company Royal Greenland announced on Monday that it was closing down the Eastern Seafood processing plant. The mayor of Matane, Eddy Métivier, speaks of “a total surprise” as the Danish company had recently invested millions to add lobster and crab processing to its activities, in addition to building 71 housing units for its temporary workers. “We are in shock, it’s really a hard blow,” he said in an interview. It is a symbol for Matane. It’s like putting an end to historical fishing traditions. In this sense, too, it is a mourning. more, >>clicck to read<< 14:29

One fish, two fish, redfish, dead wish – Something fishy’s going on, and Furey and Hutchings should be getting us answers.

It seems the Trudeau and Furey governments have some things to discuss—namely the well-being and future of west coast fishers and their communities. On Thursday, fishers and political leaders from the province gathered at a FFAW-Unifor-organized demonstration in Corner Brook to condemn DFO’s recent redfish  quota allocations as the commercial fishery prepares to reopen following a nearly three-decade hiatus. Dozens of fishers watched as members of Furey’s caucus and cabinet expressed confusion and outrage at their federal counterparts. leader Tony Wakeham, AFN Regional Chief Brendan Mitchell, and fishery magnate Bill  Barry also shared their indignation. PC leader Tony Wakeham, AFN Regional Chief Brendan Mitchell, and fishery magnate Bill Barry also shared their indignation. more, >>click to read<< 14:25

Gulf of St. Lawrence redfish population in decline even before fishery reopens, report finds

The latest scientific assessment of the redfish population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has sobering news even as fishing groups in Atlantic Canada and Quebec fight over who will get to catch it: their numbers are rapidly shrinking. “I think we’re at the point that we’re clearly seeing that there’s a limit to this boom,” says federal scientist Caroline Senay, the redfish specialist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The report comes in advance of DFO’s plan to reopen the fishery later this year after it collapsed in the early 1990s and has been closed since 1995. more, >>click to read<< 09:20

Atlantic Groundfish Council Pleased With Redfish Allocation

The shrimp biomass is declining significantly, and FFAW Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle fully expected DFO to give shrimpers access to a meaningful allocation of redfish. The year-round harvesters are generally pleased with the amount of redfish allocated to them. For the first time in decades, Ottawa is opening the redfish fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Atlantic Groundfish Council says their sector lost 20 per cent of their historical share in the decision. Generally though, they praise DFO for resisting more drastic change in the total allowable catch. more, >>click to read<< 10:01

Group for Atlantic offshore redfish fleet says details scarce on fishery reopening

The organization representing Atlantic Canada’s offshore redfish fleet says it needs more details to better understand the ramifications of Ottawa’s lifting of a decades-long moratorium on the fishery. Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier announced Friday that the moratorium put in place in 1995 would end this year, with an initial overall catch quota of at least 25,000 tonnes for the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Sylvie Lapointe, president of the Atlantic Groundfish Council, says the offshore fleet is facing a steep cut in its share of the fishery after being assigned 59 per cent of the 2024 quota. how the fishery will be managed. more, >>click to read<< 14:12

Hundreds of jobs, industry stability at stake in pending Atlantic Canada fishery decision

The Trudeau government is poised to allocate fishing access to the massive redfish population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the end of the month, a highly anticipated decision generating both dread and hope throughout the industry in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia, which has the most to lose, is warning Ottawa that “hundreds of jobs” are at stake if it loses its long-standing share of the fishery. Now that the redfish population is estimated to weigh in at a whopping four million metric tonnes, Scotia Harvest and the other Nova Scotia operators are looking nervously at other provinces lobbying for access. Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador interests, to take one example, are lobbying for a piece of the action to compensate for a drastic reduction in shrimp quota for fleets in their province. more, >>click to read<< 09:06

‘It lives’: The story of Gaultois, a rural Newfoundland community in limbo

When Atlantic Canada’s cod fishery collapsed, it took a number of small towns with it. Gaultois, an isolated community on Newfoundland’s rugged south coast, hung on for decades after the fish vanished and the town’s fish plant closed in 1990. But with fish no longer to be had, the town’s population plummeted from 600 in the late 1980s to fewer than 100. With numbers that low, residents were faced with the question of whether the town was still viable and in July 2022, opted to hold a resettlement vote. Resettlement votes happen often in Newfoundland and Labrador. Small outport communities vote on whether to stay in their rural homes or if they should move to bigger towns with financial assistance from the provincial government. >>click to read<< 10:35

The Legal Fishery Sparking Arrests and Violence

Atlantic Canada is home to the country’s most lucrative fisheries, including lobster—with an export value of CAN $3.2-billion in 2021—and young American eels, or elvers, which can sell for $5,000 per kilogram. But in 1999, the Supreme Court decision changed who could take a slice of this profitable pie. The court ruled in the case of Donald Marshall Jr. from Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia. Marshall had been arrested in 1993 for catching and selling adult eels without a license and for harvesting outside the commercial fishing season. When the Supreme Court acquitted Marshall, six years later, the decision hinged on his treaty rights as an Indigenous person. Beyond acquitting him, the ruling—known as the Marshall decision—legally affirmed the rights of individuals belonging to 35 Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey, and Peskotomuhkati First Nations to earn a living by fishing. Photos, >>click to read<< 10:31

Too Many Seals – Canada’s Pinniped Population Problem

Seals in Atlantic Canada eat a lot of fish every day and there is a great deal of them, coming in at nearly 12 million animals. Their voracious appetite, according to experts, is damaging both the commercial fishery and fish stocks. Bob Hardy has spent a good portion of his life dealing with seals in one way or another. Growing up in Battle Harbour, Labrador, Hardy spent some time taking part in the inshore cod and salmon fisheries. After graduating from university, he spent nine years as a researcher before entering the seafood industry wherein he developed the first seal oil capsule that was commercially available in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2007, he founded Hardy Fish Co., a fisheries consultancy company, where he took part in projects that researched seal oil, meat and by-product utilization. He has also spent time as a member of the Atlantic Seal Science Task Team. Hardy has since drafted a document entitled, Seals Eat Fish, highlighting the impact the large seal population has on fish stocks and the fishery itself. >click to read< 18:56

Endangered right whale movements ‘totally different’ in Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2023

“What we saw this year was totally different compared to other years,” said Marcel Hebert of the Acadian Crabbers Association in Shippagan, N.B. “The North Atlantic right whale were found in very shallow waters, under 20 fathoms. It’s the first time we saw that since 2017 when we started to watch.” Their first appearance in the Gulf was a disastrous surprise for a species on the brink of extinction and the people who earn their living in those waters. Twenty of the whales died in the Gulf between 2017 and 2019. In Atlantic Canada, a single right whale detection closes a 2,100 square kilometre area of open water for 15 days and in the Gulf for the entire season if they keep showing up or stay. “Let’s be honest, this is hard for harvesters,” Gilchrist said. >click to read< 09:47

Crab ice cream, anyone? How we might be able to eat our way out of an invasive green crab problem

They’re tiny and they’re wreaking havoc on our coasts, but they also taste pretty good. European green crabs have posed a problem off the coast of Vancouver Island for decades now, and while current conservation efforts have focused on deep freezing them and throwing them in a landfill, some suggest eating them instead. The species, which is found across the Pacific Northwest is aggressive and feeds voraciously on shellfish; they have no natural predators, and they reproduce at a high rate. Each female can have up to 185,000 babies at a time.  It’s not just a West Coast problem. Fisheries and Oceans Canada notes that the species, which originally came from Europe and North Africa and likely hitched a ride to North America on wooden ships in the early 19th century, first invaded east coast waters in the 1950s. >click to read< 09:50

Atlantic mackerel moratorium extended for 2023 season

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has extended the closure of Atlantic mackerel commercial and bait fishing in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for the 2023 season. In a notice to fish harvesters on Wednesday, the federal department said it was continuing the moratorium “to allow the stock to rebuild.” The moratorium has been in place since March 2022. In its notice, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said results of a Canadian stock assessment found Atlantic mackerel “declined further in the critical zone since the last assessment, with spawning stock biomass at its lowest-observed value.” The critical zone means serious harm is occurring. >click to read< 18:36

For Atlantic Canada, Fishing Season Brings Yet More Violence

In the early morning dark of April 12, 2023, violence erupted along a Nova Scotia riverbank after a man engaged a woman and a youth in a heated argument. Soon after, seven people arrived. One allegedly assaulted the man with a pipe while another stood nearby wielding a knife and a taser. When the RCMP later arrested two members of the group a short distance away, the officers found two shotguns and a taser. Conflict around elvers is not new, nor is it the only fishery in Atlantic Canada that’s seen so much turmoil. Whether it’s around elvers, lobsters, or something else, “this will continue to play out, and play out, and play out, until the government deals with the issues on the table.” >click to read< 08:05

Fishers crabby over Japan’s Russian imports, but Tokyo says Canada exports negligible

Atlantic fishers are feeling the pinch as Japan brings in cheap Russian product rather than Canadian snow crabs, with federal ministers and provincial premiers saying they are raising the issue with Japanese officials. Snow crab prices have dropped in Newfoundland and Labrador from $7.60 per pound at the start of last year’s season to an opening price of $2.20 this year. Fishers in the province have refused to start harvesting this year as they scramble to sell off last year’s surplus, although the price could still rise. Meanwhile, Moscow has flooded other parts of the international market with cheap product. >click to read< 07:58

FFAW wants mackerel fishery re-opened

On Thursday, Mar. 30, 2022, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) issued a release announcing there would be no directed commercial or bait fishing for southern Gulf spring herring and the closure of the Atlantic mackerel commercial and bait fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Now in 2023, Fish, Food, & Allied Workers (FFAW) is calling on the government to reopen the Atlantic mackerel fishery, stating that Newfoundland and Labrador communities shouldn’t bear the burden of this decision. “The biggest problem is that the fishery was closed when it should not have been,” said Courtney Glode, Communications Officer with FFAW. The U.S.A. announced in March that they will proceed with the commercial fishery in 2023, on the East Coast stock shared with Canada; however, an announcement on whether or not the moratorium will be lifted in Canada has not yet been made. >click to read< 10:07

‘The people’s fish’: Atlantic mackerel stocks have collapsed – can a moratorium bring them back?

Canada’s Atlantic mackerel population is a shadow of what it once was, and its decline threatens the well-being of the people who depend on it. Mackerel supports one of Atlantic Canada’s top recreational fisheries, and one of its oldest commercial fisheries. The fish is also used for bait, and it has an important place in Indigenous cultures. The same migratory stock supports recreational and commercial fisheries in the U.S. Last March, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed Canada’s commercial and bait mackerel fisheries for one year and placed daily personal limits on the recreational fishery, to give the population time to rebound. But the U.S. fishery remains open, albeit with a reduced quota. Next week, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray will decide whether to reopen the Canadian fishery. The DFO’s latest studies have found no sign of recovery in the mackerel stock. Photos, >click to read<  13:09

Starvation price for snow crab fishermen

A week into the snow crab fishing season, processors in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Friday agreed to a temporary dock price of $2.25/lb to $2.50/lb. “There’s more inventory on the market now than we thought, says Jean-Paul Gagne, Director General of the Quebec Fisheries Industry Association (AQIP).  For his part, Marc-Olivier des Îles-de-la-Madeleine’s captain, Marco Turbide, promises to put his cages back this spring. “Expecting a price of only two or three dollars a pound doesn’t give ambition, he comments. It’s not fun. For a heavily indebted fisherman like me, we can’t expect to make a profit in 2023 because of the significant loss from crab last year. If we agree to $4/lb, I’m very I’ll be happy!” >click to read< 11:45

One shrimp stock off Labrador doing well but missed surveys means no new data for two other fishing zones

This news likely won’t come as a great surprise to most in Atlantic Canada’s shrimp fishing industry: scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) can’t provide a full assessment on two northern shrimp stocks on Canada’s east coast this year because they don’t have new data. In February DFO confirmed offshore trawl surveys in shrimp fishing areas (SFA) 5 and 6 could not be completed because a research ship was out of commission. In a technical briefing with media earlier Thursday, March 23, stock assessment biologist Nicolas LeCorre provided information mainly on SFA 4, the one zone where offshore trawl surveys were completed. >click to read< 08:04

Snow crab prices down by nearly 60 per cent in U.S. market

The snow crab season in Atlantic Canada usually doesn’t get going until mid-April, but that doesn’t mean fresh snow crab is not already hitting the U.S. market. Alaskan fleets finished up their tanner crab season this week. That crab is often marketed under the name “snow crab,” being of similar size and colour. If the Alaskan tanner fishery is a portent of things to come, snow crab catches this year will have much less value than in 2022. The tanner fishery started Jan. 15 with wharf prices at US$3.25 to US$3.35 per pound, according to the latest blog from U.S. seafood analyst Les Hodges. The initial offer from processors was $2.50 a pound, but that offer prompted a strike by the crab fishing fleet, that prompted a bump in the offer from processors. >click to read< 14:04

U.S. announces reduced East Coast commercial mackerel quota for 2023

The United States will proceed with a commercial fishery of the depleted East Coast mackerel stock it shares with Canada in 2023. The U.S. quota was released this week, putting pressure on Canada which has yet to decide whether it will continue a total moratorium it imposed in 2022 to help rebuild the population. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. equivalent of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), announced on Tuesday a total allowable catch of 3,639 metric tonnes. It was 27 per cent cut from 2022 in recognition that the transboundary stock remains in trouble and is overfished. >click to read< 19:01

N.L. snow crab sales to Japan displaced by Russia

While many countries are imposing sanctions on Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine, Japan is taking advantage of low Russian snow crab prices. Clifford Small, MP for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame and federal fisheries critic, says that is preventing Newfoundland and Labrador processors from selling their crab to Japan, as they normally do. “To have one of our major markets dry up on us, and to dry up in a sense that basically they started buying from a country like Russia — that’s at war in Ukraine — flies in the face of what you’d expect from a great trading partner and an ally,” he said. >click to read< 15:44

Canadian Coast Guard can’t retire old fisheries science vessels on East Coast

Canada is extending the life of its two aging offshore fisheries science vessels on the East Coast as the Canadian Coast Guard struggles to bring their replacements into service. The transition has floundered because of breakdowns, unplanned maintenance and refits on both new and old fisheries science vessels. In response, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has now postponed the planned retirement of 40-year-old CCGS Alfred Needler on Dec.31 and 34-year-old CCGS Teleost set for March 2023. >click to read< 09:18

Fall fish stock surveys won’t happen again

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says 2022 will be another year without fish stock surveys, as it prioritizes transition work needed to replace older vessels in an aging fleet. The scientific surveys are used to assess the health of major fish stocks and are critical in determining quotas for commercial fisheries worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Atlantic Canada. Those inside the industry say DFO is falling short on their mandate and can’t make the most informed decisions on future quotas due to the limited data. >click to read< 07:33

Repeated Failures: DFO ship woes hampering East Coast science surveys

DFO has missed multiple surveys as it struggles to bring new offshore fishery science vessels into service, and aging ships near retirement. Sailing restrictions imposed early in the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the problem, but so too have breakdowns on older ships and part replacements needed on the two new ships stationed on the East Coast. The science surveys are used to assess the health of major fish stocks and are critical in determining quotas for commercial fisheries worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Atlantic Canada. “There’s huge consequences. We want to know what’s going on. We need the data,” said Carey Bonnell, vice-president of sustainability and engagement at St. John’s-based Ocean Choice International, which is a seafood company. >click to read< 08:13

Ottawa earmarks $100 million for lost fishing gear, repair to harbours – $300-million fund for Atlantic Canada not enough, fishermen say

The federal government says $100 million from its hurricane Fiona fund will be earmarked for the recovery of lost fishing gear and the repair to small-craft harbours across Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. The federal Fisheries Department says in a news release the money will come from the $300 million Ottawa set aside for fishers, communities and companies affected by post-tropical storm Fiona, which made landfall on Sept. 24. >click to read< $300-million fund for Atlantic Canada not enough, fishermen say – Fishermen on P.E.I. say the federal government’s $300-million fund for Atlantic Canada is a good start to recover from post-tropical storm Fiona but falls far short of what is needed. It will cost millions just to fix the wharf at Covehead Harbour alone, said Allan Coady. >click to read< 09:26