Tag Archives: DFO

2021 Yukon River Chinook salmon run will likely be small, according to forecast

Somewhere between 42,000 and 77,000 Canadian-origin fish are anticipated to make the journey from the Bering Sea this year, Alaska and Yukon experts told attendees during the Yukon River Panel’s pre-season meeting on Tuesday. The most likely run size would be 57,000, they said. That’s smaller than the pre season outlooks for 2020 and 2019, and both those years ended disastrously when it came to getting enough salmon across the border. Under an international treaty, Canada and the U.S. are supposed to work together to ensure at least 42,500 fish make it to their spawning waters in Yukon. That spawning escapement goal hasn’t been met since 2018, last year only about 33,000 Chinook made it. >click to read< 13:21

Crab traps seized by DFO during food fishery-Mi’kmaq fisher argues feds becoming more aggressive in seizures

Robert Syliboy and his crew dropped ten traps into the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean to harvest snow crab for a community feast.,, He said the crab traps were seized before he reached the shore. video, >click to read< Mi’kmaq fisher argues feds becoming more aggressive in seizures of Indigenous gear -“I told fisheries officers I was fishing under the chief and council’s authority, and all the fish was going for food,” Syliboy said. “They disregarded the treaty I was fishing under.” The Indigenous band has cited Supreme Court of Canada rulings, including the Sparrow case in 1990, as affirmations of the Mi’kmaq practice of harvesting fish for ceremonies, food and gatherings. >click to read< 08:42

Nova Scotia: The hidden fight for baby eels – Court docs reveal why DFO shut down the elver fishery for all of 2020

The federal department had been closely monitoring, and in some cases prosecuting, the unauthorized sale of baby eels harvested by Mi’kmaq under Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) eel licences since 2017. The appearance of more than 110 Indigenous fishermen at the beginning of April 2020, up from 21 across the region in 2019, quickly forced a shutdown of the little known but lucrative fishery throughout the Maritimes, the documents state. DFO was in the middle of a collision between Mi’kmaq asserting treaty rights and commercial harvesters anxious to protect a fishery worth $38 million in 2019. >click to read< 08:32

Newfoundland: A Discussion of the Impact of Seals on Cod Stocks

Those in the industry feel more needs to be done to track the impact seal predation is having on cod stocks in the province. The latest DFO modelling shows 3Ps cod deep in the critical zone, prompting meagre quotas to be cut in half.,, “Most fear if we don’t do anything” Sullivan says, “it’ll be the story of what’s going on with the neighbouring cod stock.” He says scientists working in the Gulf of St. Lawrence noted a few years ago that fishing or no fishing, seals were going to devour all the cod and the species could become extinct. >click to read< 09:10

PEI fishermen to integrate ‘weak rope’ in 2023

Gear adjustments regarding the North Atlantic Right Whale for the 2021 fishing season are consistent with last year. Rope markings on fishing gear, first implemented in 2020, are designed to help pinpoint where right whale entanglements in gear take place. The fact there haven’t been any entanglements since the marking became mandatory is positive, Melanie Giffin, Program Planner with the PEI Fishermen’s Association, said. “It is kind of a good news story that we don’t know if they are working or not,” she said. According to Barre Campbell, DFO Media relations, there were no North Atlantic Right Whale entanglements or deaths reported in Canadian waters in 2020. However, there is a plan to follow,,, >click to read< 23:08

Scientists, First Nations team up in fresh attempt to revive struggling B.C. herring stocks

For decades, the fish were viewed as a virtually inexhaustible resource. They were canned, frozen, used as fertilizer, and even rendered into slippery goo to grease logs being skidded out of the forest. But the once coastal-wide bonanza is fizzling out. This year, most of the waters off B.C. were closed to commercial herring boats, with the only quota being allowed in the Strait of Georgia, along Canada’s southwest coast. The first collapse of the stocks happened in the 1960s, due to overfishing. They were allowed to recover but have had ups and downs in recent decades. The herring fishery in Eastern Canada has also been facing tough times. >click to read< 13:48

Crab fishing season off to early start on the Acadian Peninsula

New Brunswick’s snow crab fishers have begun their season. At the wharf in Shippagan, boats prepared to take to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence late Friday despite frigid temperatures and the presence of ice in some places. The season officially began at midnight. For Capt. Renald Guignard, it marked the continuation of a family tradition. The Acadian Peninsula received help from icebreakers from the Canadian Coast Guard and contracted boats to allow access to the waters before endangered North Atlantic right whales arrive. >click to read< 17:30

Tension over stocks – 3Ps Cod fishery closure ‘not going to happen on my watch,’

Fish harvesters rallied in Clarenville on Wednesday, voicing their fears that the federal government may shut down the cod fishery along Newfoundland’s south coast, a move the local member of Parliament says he won’t support. Dozens of members from the Fish, Food & Allied Workers union protested on the doorstep of the office of Liberal MP for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, Churence Rogers, filling the parking lot with signs and the air with strong words about the fate of the fishing grounds 3Ps. Fish harvester Brian Careen said he’s spent most of his life fishing in the area, and told the crowd he feared it will be taken away by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. >click to read< 10:58

“DFO operates in denial of Reality”- Scientist says seal predation not having a significant impact on spawning cod stocks 

Instead, Karen Dwyer, weighing in on the contentious debate over the health of cod stocks, said Thursday that environmental factors and a limited supply of the cod’s primary food source — capelin — are more to blame.,, Trinity Bay fisherman Keith Smith said DFO continues to downplay the impact of seal predation on cod. “It’s like DFO operate in denial of reality,” Smith said. “Fishing mortality is at an all-time low while natural mortality, likely led by the growing seal population that consumes vast amounts of both capelin and cod, remains high,”,,, >click to read<  11:04

‘You can’t touch the union boat’- Part III: ‘Where did all the f—ing money go?’

Former offshore trawlermen demand investigation into what happened to millions of dollars generated from offshore crab quota meant to support them, and how it was sold without their knowledge for fraction of value to Conne River First Nation  The controversial offshore snow crab quota fished by “the union boat” for almost 20 years, generating revenues estimated at between $30 and $60 million, was quietly sold late last year to the  Miawpukek First Nation at Conne River for $1 million.,, The news raises the question why the offshore crab quota that reached as high as 500 tonnes (1.1 million pounds) sold for millions of dollars less than market value? The going rate today for a small supplementary crab licence (65,000 pounds) is more than $2 million.,, Bateman worries that nothing will come from his whistleblowing. “If a Fishery Officer feels as strongly as I do to come forward publicly and nothing is done, then maybe there’s no hope.” >click to read< 10:48

‘You can’t touch the union boat’- Part II – FFAW crab licence

When Fishery Officers Jason Bateman and Ryan Legge inspected the F/V Katrina Charlene in late June, 2011 at the wharf in St. Lawrence word spread immediately up the chain of command within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in Newfoundland and Labrador. Managers themselves with the department’s Enforcement and Conservation division specifically referred to the fishing vessel as “operating under the FFAW crab licence. ”On June, 27th 2011, the day the skipper of the Katrina Charlene was charged with illegally fishing undersized snow crab, an email,,, It read: “Kevin, A heads up that we are in the process of an inspection in St. Lawrence on the F/V Katrina Charlene operated under the FFAW crab licence. >click to read< 10:33

‘You can’t touch the union boat’- Former Fishery Officer alleges DFO kept 2012 Katrina Charlene conviction quiet

The Katrina Charlene and the crab quota it was built to fish have been in the news for almost 20 years for their connection to the FFAW. The story made national news in February when a Fishery Officer alleged DFO kept quiet a conviction against the trawler, so as to not embarrass the union. Today, there’s news the quota sold recently for $1 million, a fraction of its estimated value, to Conne River First Nation. The boat and quota have been sold, but questions remain. What happened to the tens of millions of dollars generated by the crab quota? Fisherman’s Road lays out the story as it’s never been told. First of a three-part series. By Ryan Cleary >click to read<  11:59

DFO’s ‘who’s on board’ policy – Bay Bulls harvester not on board!

“On Wednesday, an e-mail came out from DFO saying that as of April 1, this new crew list requirement would come into place, and they outlined what you needed to record,” said harvester Jason Sullivan of Bay Bulls. As per those new requirements, records of who is aboard the boat for each trip would need to be kept on file for five years. As part of the bookkeeping, a Fisher Identification Number (FIN) or Provincial Fisher’s Certificate would need to be recorded for everyone on board. But, according to Sullivan, not everyone may be able to obtain one of those numbers. >click to read< 09:01

Nearly 30 years into the moratorium, Newfoundlanders look for ways to rebuild Cod

Atlantic cod, the species better known by its population name, Northern cod, is the fish of choice for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. On a day spent handlining cod on the North Atlantic off of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove, a centuries-old fishing community just outside of St. John’s, it can be easy to forget cod has a storied history – and a still uncertain future. Northern cod survived near-decimation from overfishing three decades ago, leading the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to shutter the commercial cod fishery in 1992. Meant to last two years, the cod moratorium remains in effect, although DFO reopened an inshore commercial fishery, called the “stewardship fishery,” in 2006. >click to read< 11:00

Canadian government likely has not met constitutional obligations to First Nations

The precedent set by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Marshall cases recognizes the First Nations’ right to fish under the Peace and Friendship Treaties but also allows for limitations by the government for the purpose of conservation. The Badger decision set out the parameters for applying those limitations and puts the onus on the federal government to show that the infringement of treaty rights is justified, and to consult with First Nations to find a solution that puts the minimum restrictions on Indigenous rights. The 13 Nova Scotia First Nations chiefs have unanimously rejected Jordan’s plan for a number of reasons, a major one being a lack of consultation. >click to read< 11:45

The flawed plan to rebuild Canada’s Northern cod – DFO’s plan is riddled with science and policy weaknesses

Canada is on the cusp of an inauspicious anniversary. Next year will mark 30 years since Newfoundland’s 500-year-old Northern cod fishery was shut down. The fishery was closed on July 2, 1992, because of a massive decline in the cod population, as much as 95 per cent, between the early 1960s and the early 1990s. The socioeconomic consequences were staggering: 30,000 to 40,000 jobs vanished overnight. Closure of what once was the largest cod fishery in the world stimulated an exodus of 10 per cent of the province’s population by the turn of the 21st century. Resource depletion was not anticipated when the federal Fisheries Act was passed in 1868.  >click to read< 06:25

Capelin stocks aren’t climbing, could the fishery really face a moratorium in Newfoundland and Labrador?

The capelin stock in Newfoundland and Labrador has not had any sustained growth for 30 years, and the chances of a quick rebound are poor. Fran Mowbray, capelin biologist with Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), wouldn’t go as far as to say the stock could become extinct. “I don’t think we have enough evidence to say that. We are definitely concerned about the status of the stock right now. But worldwide, when forage species reach very low levels … it will take them an extremely long time to rebound.” >click to read< 19:15

DFO backtracks on rule that harvesters warned would destroy the local spot prawn industry

“The Minister has been informed that for this season, [conservation and protection’s] enforcement posture toward the practice of tubbing will be one of outreach and education,” reads a statement from the office of Minister Bernadette Jordan. James Lawson, a prawn harvester from Heiltsuk First Nation, says the latest announcement is cold comfort to fishermen like him. “They know the solution: just don’t bring [the change] in. Everyone is furious, the consumers, the prawn fishermen, it’s just ridiculous. People want local seafood and we want to supply it.” >click to read< 21:08

British Columbia: Prawn harvesters furious over DFO ‘tubbing’ ban – “Why are they reinventing the wheel?”

For decades harvesters in remote locations have flash-frozen one-pound tubs of a couple-dozen prawns in native sea water,,, This week Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the practice of tubbing will be prohibited, as the block of ice prevents DFO inspectors from having ready access to the prawns inside.,, “Prawn harvesters have been using this method to store their catch for more than 50 years. “It would be just horrible for us,” said Prince Rupert prawn harvester Peter Haugen. “Why are they reinventing the wheel?” >click to read< 13:06

Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq chiefs want to see the science that restricts their fisheries.

Last week, Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, in a bid to end the conflict that has arisen since the Sipekne’katik First Nation began a moderate livelihood lobster fishery in September, announced that such fisheries would be required to operate within established commercial fishery seasons. That announcement, sandwiched between two meetings with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs, won praise from commercial fishers, who have contended that fishing outside their established seasons harms the fish stock. However, it drew scorn from Indigenous fishers,,, In a statement Friday, the assembly said that despite requesting specific data sets from the department during meetings over the past week, “including detailed scientific, economic and management data to justify the imposition of commercial seasons,” no such data has been provided. >click to read< 07:40

The diet of seals – What to make of what winds up in seal stomachs

I wasn’t invited for a free lesson on seal digestion: this was wharf-style politics. The Rideouts are betting on the power of an image and the strength of social media. They believe my camera’s presence can drive home their argument: They say seals play a huge part in slowing the growth of weak crab stocks. They also think its high time the federal government acknowledges it. “Only this week, Labrador got a report back from scientists that their female crab is declining [and] they don’t know why. Well, we know why!” he said. “They are in the stomachs of these seals, and DFO will not let people know that they are in there.” >click to read< 08:20

Fisheries Minister Jordan: A new path for First Nations to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood

We have never stopped working with First Nations to reach agreements and implement their right to a moderate livelihood. That is why effective this season, we will introduce a new path for First Nations to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, one that addresses much of the feedback we’ve heard over the past year. This plan will support individuals, their families, and their communities. It’s a path that is flexible, adaptable, and based on three key principles: implementation of First Nations Treaty rights, conservation and sustainability of fish stocks, and transparent and stable management of the fishery. >click to read< 21:53

Good news for Newfoundland fishermen, plant workers, and processors in the snow crab fishery

The snow crab fishery should continue to be an economic bright spot for the Newfoundland and Labrador economy in 2021. The latest report from Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) science shows modest improvements in snow crab biomass in several fishing zones around the province. The good news from science is that the snow crab stocks appear to be recovering in some areas.,, Julia Pantin, DFO’s lead biologist for snow crab in the Newfoundland region, said the population of crabs becoming available to the fishery is expected to increase over the new two to four years in most areas. >click to read< 11:30

Is politics getting in the way of rebuilding a sustainable fishery in Newfoundland?

The sentinel program, created after the cod moratorium in 1992 to monitor fish populations, is run exclusively by the Fish Food & Allied Workers, the powerful union that represents around 15,000 fishermen, fish plant employees and other workers in the province. DFO relies on data from the sentinel fishery to help assess fish stocks, and has paid the union millions to run the program. “The FFAW and the DFO are cheating the fishermen out of a resource that belongs to the people of Newfoundland,” said Jason Bateman, a former enforcement officer with DFO.  Ryan Cleary, a former member of Parliament for St. John’s-Mount Pearl and an outspoken critic of the FFAW, said the union has found a way to prosper since the collapse of cod by integrating itself into fisheries management, acting almost as a regulator, while becoming a vocal industry voice that contradicts science. >click to read< 17:55

P.E.I. lobster fishermen want exemption from new gear rule aimed at protecting whales

Island lobster fishermen should be be exempt from using gear designed to break free in the event of a whale entanglement, according to the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA). The PEIFA wrote a letter to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to request lobster fishermen be exempt from new rules, which are expected to become mandatory by the end of 2022. The group says sighting data shows the endangered North Atlantic right whale is rarely in P.E.I. lobster fishing grounds. >click to read< 10:46

Wow. Just, Wow. A belly full of fish ramps up seal debate

If you have a weak stomach, the video might be difficult to watch. But for fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador, the images of a seal stomach being cut open to reveal a gut full of small herring and Arctic cod is proof enough that seals are a factor in the slow recovery of cod stocks. Last week Dion Weir and a buddy hunted a few seals for personal use in Hall’s Bay, off the Baie Verte Peninsula. They were filled with small fish. “Up in these bays now they’re eating herring and Arctic cod,” Weir said. “Wherever the cod is, the seals are there.” Multiply that by 7.6 million seals,,, >click to read< 15:42

‘Trapped’: Women Working as Fishery Observers Allege Sex Harassment, Assault at Sea

She had overcome the seasickness, the unreliable shifts, and the long hours that drive many people out of the business. But she didn’t sign up for 3 1/2 weeks of harassment. On the ship that served as both her workplace and temporary home, Kim, then in her mid-20s, was constantly catcalled, hit on, and leered at, with no place to escape. Four women, including Kim, who worked on the front lines of fisheries monitoring in Canada, say they were dropped into a hellish grind of sexual harassment, assault, intimidation, threats, and horrifying animal abuse while they watched helplessly. >click to read< 10:15

Fight for our fisheries. Provincial politicians need to pressure Ottawa to manage our fisheries

Gus Etchegary doesn’t mince words when it comes to the state of Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishery. The longtime fishery advocate laments that since the 1992 cod moratorium the federal government has “practically abandoned” the province’s fishery. The fishery is federally regulated, but he says doesn’t absolve the provincial government from its role “to be continuously pressuring Ottawa to take on the role that they were given in 1949, and that is to manage our fisheries in the same style as Iceland and Norway,” he said, pointing to two fishing powerhouses in the North Atlantic. >click to read< 12:15

DFO is making new fishing rules. Will they work? (without addressing seal/sea lion over population issues they won’t)

The proposed rules codify pre-existing internal DFO policies and require the ministry to assess the health of key fish populations in “batches”, salmon, rockfish and cod are in the first batch of 30, to figure out why their populations have declined (or could decline) and lay out a plan to bring the stocks back to healthy levels. If the ministry doesn’t comply or opens a threatened fishery, it could be sued. Similar, but more stringent, regulations have been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions with major fisheries, like the U.S. and the EU. >click to read< 07:50

Failed policies, decisions on the fly: How the moderate livelihood fishery file blew up

Documents obtained through a freedom of information request show the federal Fisheries Department knew that 21 years of kicking the moderate livelihood issue down the election cycle had resulted in there being little rule of law on St. Mary’s Bay. The feds knew that the bay had become a pressure cooker as two communities were pitted against one another over a limited resource. When the top blew off, they turned to coming up with new policy on the fly while seeking a daily scorecard on evolving public opinion. “This is about a culture (in Ottawa) that would rather avoid any conflict at all,” said Thomas Isaac, an aboriginal rights lawyer who has served as British Columbia’s chief treaty negotiator,,,>click to read< 13:49