Tag Archives: DFO

4 North Atlantic right whales spotted in Bay of Fundy

Four North Atlantic right whales were spotted Saturday in the Bay of Fundy — the first documented sighting of the species in that area this year. “Every sighting is very important,” said Dion, noting how few North Atlantic right whales exist. Dion said she and the team quickly began documenting the sightings and called the Canadian Whale Institute for official documentation. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was also contacted, along with Fundy Traffic. They were able to identify the four whales as North Atlantic right whales, a welcome confirmation.  >>click to read<< 19:04

Observer companies dumped from monitoring of N.S. lobster fishery

This season, DFO will rely solely on an inshore industry association to assess what other species are being accidentally captured — what’s known as bycatch — in the lobster fishery from Halifax through the Bay of Fundy. Observer companies Javitech Atlantic in Dartmouth and Halifax’s Atlantic Catch Data have been part of the bycatch monitoring program since it was launched in 2018 to assess and demonstrate sustainability in the fishery worth half a billion dollars. Both companies are out for now. In recent years, they have not delivered anywhere near the sampling provided by the Yarmouth-based Southwest Lobster Science Society, which was created by five fishing associations to provide bycatch monitoring. >>click to read<< 08:30

DFO calls for calm in St. Mary’s Bay as enforcement continues

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans calling for safety and patience in St. Mary’s Bay. Tensions have been rising once again due to out of season lobster fishing taking place. In a statement, DFO says they’re committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, so they can exercise their Treaty rights to fish. They say many are exercising that right through the Food, Social and Ceremonial fishery, authorized by DFO. But they say it has to comply with the Fisheries Act, and they are seizing gear and laying charges for those who don’t follow the rules. DFO has been getting flack from local commercial fishers and opposition leaders, demanding that they do more to enforce the rules.  >>click to read<< 08:43

‘Enforce the laws’: N.S. Liberals to feds, province on lobster dispute

As the conflict over Sipekne’katik’s moderate livelihood fishery once again heats up in St. Marys Bay, the provincial Liberal party has split from their federal counterparts. On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Zach Churchill called for the provincial government to start revoking the licences of any buyers found to be purchasing lobster caught without a licence issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). And he called out the federal government for a lack of enforcement of the Fisheries Act.  “We are talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of lobster being landed illegally. There has to be a disincentive. … DFO also has to enforce the laws of the land which prohibit large-scale poaching.” >>click to read<< 12:34

DFO investigates fishing licences for outside control

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) encourages inshore owner-operators who have lost control of their commercial licences or fishing enterprise to contact Fisheries and Oceans, which is actively investigating several cases. “If you are not in control of your boat or licences then contact DFO and have it looked into and made right,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. “By law, licensed inshore harvesters must be independent — solely in control of their enterprises, licences, and catches — and if you are not then SEA-NL encourages you to take control.” >>click to read<< 08:45

N.S. fishing industry, conservation groups at odds over new herring quota

Nova Scotia’s fishing industry and conservation groups are at odds over a new herring quota set by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) this season. The quota, or total allowable catch (TAC), off southwestern Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is now limited to 21,000 tonnes for 2023, an 11 per cent reduction from the previous year. The commercial herring fishery is worth about $19.5 million, according to DFO. But the new quota doesn’t sit well with Oceans North and the Ecology Action Centre. Ian McIsaac, president of the Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia, said the industry is disappointed that the quota was cut. >click to read< 16:31

Fall fishery finally gets underway

On calm waters on a beautiful August morning, the fall lobster season in LFA 25 finally opened on Sunday following several delays due to weather conditions. The fall fishery was scheduled to open on Aug 9, but last Monday the Department of Fisheries and Ocean (DFO) decided to delay the opening until at least Aug 10 because of unfavourable forecasts. On Aug 11, it was confirmed that the LFA 25 fall lobster season would open at 6 am on Sunday, but only to set the gear. An agreement was made there would be no lobster fishing on Sunday. Photos, >click to read< 08:44

Northumberland Strait fall lobster fishery opens under favorable conditions

After several delays, the fall lobster season is officially underway in Lobster Fishing Area 25. This region includes fishermen from southern PEI, northwestern Nova Scotia, and southeastern New Brunswick. The season was supposed to start on Wednesday but was pushed forward due to bad weather. Charlie McGeoghegan, president of the Lobster Fishers of PEI Marketing Board, says the boats set out on Sunday morning to cast their nets. “Any time you can get a scheduled day where the weather is nice and everyone is safe, they are optimistic,” McGeoghegan said. >click to read< 08:53

New commercial whelk fishery to open in eastern Nova Scotia

A new commercial Whelk fishery that will officially start in the spring of 2024 was announced Friday outside Louisbourg Seafood facilities in Louisbourg, N.S. “It’s a big deal and it means we will have stability going forward,” said Al MacLean, senior operations manager for Louisbourg Seafoods. Whelk is a large sea snail that is harvested in deep waters and generally exported to Asia. The goal is to increase the availability and quality of seafood in international markets, while creating jobs here at home. “We have 65 people working here today and they’ll work for three-and-a-half to four months beyond what their normal work period was and we hope in the future that we see that grow. We can see allocations to Louisbourg grow and our production staff grow along with it,” said MacLean. Video, >click to read< 08:02

Unfavourable forecasts continue to keep P.E.I. lobster boats off water

Wednesday was supposed to be trap setting day for the fall fishery, which operates in the Northumberland Strait along the south coast from North Cape to Victoria-by-the-Sea, as well as off northern New Brunswick. But crews and officials decided to delay the start of the season during a weather conference call with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Tuesday. Another call Wednesday afternoon ended with no consensus on a Friday opening, so another call will be held at 10 a.m. AT Thursday to consider updated forecasts. The P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association says that means Saturday will be the earliest possible opening day. >click to read< 10:43

Crab chaos leads to cod condundrum for Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry

Chris Button, a fish harvester from Old Perlican, was one those trying to sell his catch at the wharf last week. The problem for Button and the others is that since the cod fishery opened on July 23, catches have been good but not every processing company is buying. Some of them are still busy with capelin and crab. They can’t accommodate cod just yet. Even if some processors are buying, many have a limit on how much they will buy per week from each licence holder. While the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) allows a licence holder to land 3200 pounds of cod each week, many processors are buying only 2,000 pounds a week per licence. That’s frustrating for Button, and others, who have been seeing good catch rates in their cod nets. >click to read< 09:05

Research groups sound alarm after three whales reportedly struck by ships off West Coast

Three whales were reportedly struck by vessels in northern B.C. waters over a 10-day period last month, raising West Coast humpback researchers’ concerns over the risk shipping poses to the marine mammals. The first report involved a BC Ferries vessel, the Northern Expedition, colliding with a whale in Wright Sound near Kitimat on July 20, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirmed. A second incident on July 21 involved a boat that transports workers to Alcan’s Rio Tinto power generation facility in Kitimat. And a cruise ship struck a whale in Hecate Strait between Haida Gwaii and the B.C. mainland on July 29, DFO said. Shipping traffic and humpback whale populations are both on the rise, often in the same areas, escalating the risk of vessel strikes to humpbacks, the greatest threat to the species of special concern along with entanglements in fishing gear.>click to read< 17:46

Scientists Level New Critiques of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Scientific Rigor

Twenty-five years ago, after the collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery, Jeffrey Hutchings, a preeminent fisheries scientist and professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, sounded the alarm that Canada’s federal fisheries department was allowing “nonscience influences” in critical decision-making. Writing at the time, he said, “There is a clear and immediate need for Canadians to examine very seriously the role of bureaucrats and politicians in the management of Canada’s natural resources.” Today, a new crop of researchers is once again imploring Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to change its ways. At the core of their concerns is a number of systemic and structural ways in which DFO gathers, parses, and handles scientific information, and how that advice is passed on to decision-makers. >click to read< 09:20

Fisheries union, harvesters eager to work with new federal minister

Diane Lebouthillier, Liberal MP for the Quebec riding of Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, was one of several ministers to assume new roles in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet on Wednesday. She leaves the revenue portfolio to assume the role of minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard from Joyce Murray, who has announced she will not seek re-election. FFAW president Greg Pretty said he’s eager to meet the new minister.  “This woman is from the Gaspé Peninsula. She represents harvesters, we got a lot in common,” Pretty said Wednesday.  >click to read< 15:38

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

Despite whale detection, western Cape Breton crab fishers will complete quota in days

Part of Snow Crab Area 19, Cape Breton’s largest crab fishing zone in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, has been restricted for at least 15 days by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). That comes after a North Atlantic right whale was detected last week by an acoustic sensor near Pleasant Bay.  As a result, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has ordered fishers with traps in Area 19 to move them to the far north or south parts of the zone by Monday evening. While it is extra work to move the traps, most fishers anticipate almost no impact on the overall catch. “Catches are good, so a lot of the boats will be finished up in the next couple of days,” said Sandy Doucette, who fishes out of Cheticamp. >click to read< 20:00

Entangled North Atlantic right whale spotted in Gulf of St. Lawrence

A North Atlantic right whale has been spotted entangled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Lamèque in northeastern New Brunswick. A research vessel saw the whale, a 13-year-old male known as EG No. 4042, east of Lamèque and northwest of Prince Edward Island, on Saturday, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced Monday. He appears to be carrying a “long trailing line, with no visible buoys,” according to a news release. Groups who respond to marine mammals in distress planned to attempt to disentangle the whale on Sunday morning but couldn’t because of the weather. >click to read< 13:47

Expect more temporary closures of P.E.I. lobster fishery, DFO says

Future in-season closures of the P.E.I. lobster fishery are not out of the question as more endangered right whales are spotted in shallow waters, says Fisheries and Oceans Canada. A portion of Lobster Fishing Area 24 was shut down in May after two right whales were spotted off P.E.I.’s north shore. It was the first time DFO had to close off that part of the area due to a whale sighting, and it meant lobster crews had to move their traps to shallower waters. It’s likely not the last time it will happen, said Brett Gilchrist, DFO’s director of national programs. Video, >click to read< 15:25

Still a lot of crab to be caught in Newfoundland and Labrador

A 2022 report by consultant David Conway, who was commissioned by the province to review the fish price setting system, recommended the industry begin discussions in October of that year to establish a formula for crab prices for the 2023 season. However, discussions between the FFAW and ASP didn’t get going until March, partly because both groups saw a change in leadership over the winter with Keith Sullivan resigning as union and Derek Butler leaving as executive director of the ASP. The decision on prices for this season fell to the province’s Fish Price Setting Panel which used the final offer selection model, where processors and the union each made a pitch on price and the panel had to choose one or the other. >click to read< 13:12

DFO says it has enough resources to monitor Indigenous lobster fishing in Nova Scotia

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) says its enforcement branch will be on the water and adequately equipped to monitor compliance of First Nations lobster fisheries this summer. The pledge follows the chaotic fishery for baby eels this spring where there was widespread illegal activity by some Indigenous and non-Indigenous harvesters. DFO shut down the legal elver fishery, affecting both commercial licence holders and Indigenous groups with fishing plans approved by the department. But “poaching”, as federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray called it, continued. “I want to clarify they are two very different fisheries,” Maritimes region director of conservation and protection Tim Kerr told reporters Monday in a briefing on Indigenous rights-based lobster fisheries. >click to read< 08:35

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

The Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council are Disappointed with the Northern Cod Maximum Allowable harvest announced today by DFO

“The NLGIDC were hoping for an increase in the harvest level for 2023 based on the extremely successful cod fishery in the 2J3KL area in 2022”, said James Baird, the chair of the NLGIDC. “Weekly harvest rates for the first 4 weeks of this fishery in 2022 all surpassed the highest weekly landings observed in this fishery since 2016”, continued Baird. “Additionally, the lack of science assessments for Northern cod in 2022 and 2023 continue to hinder the development of this iconic fishery and is a cause of considerable concern for the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry”, said Paul Grant, the Executive Vice-President of Beothic Fish Processors Ltd. >click to read< 18:48

‘They look at me as an outsider’: Cape Breton fisherman says boat burned, gear vandalized

Adam Morrison said he bought the licence for more than $800,000 and had fished lobster previously in a nearby community, Big Bras d’Or, for an employer. This was a chance to have his own boat, literally in his backyard. “I put my house on the line for this lobster licence,” Morrison told the Cape Breton Post. “They don’t want to let you make a go of it … They refuse to believe I went out on my own and got this.” In early May, Morrison, an early riser due to his profession, managed to stave off disaster when he noticed a fire onboard his boat, docked at the wharf on the rear of the property. Photos, >click to read and comment< 11:06

Conservation must trump profit; SEA-NL calls on DFO to close window on high-grading in crab fishery

Seaward Enterprises Associations of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) has called on the federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans to take immediate action to close a window that’s been opened by processors/buyers to allow for high-grading in the snow crab fishery. “Conservation must trump profit, which is obviously not the case with the processing sector that is out to scrape every last cent from the inshore fleet at the expense of the future health of the stock,” says Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s Executive Director. For years there has been an industry-managed two-price system for snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador — with a higher price paid for crab with a greater than four-inch carapace (currently $2.25/lb), and lower price for smaller, but still legal-sized crab ($1.90/lb). >click to read< 11:07

Areas closed to protect North Atlantic Right whales ready to re-open Friday in western P.E.I.

Charlie McGeoghegan, the chair of the Lobster Fishers of P.E.I., said the re-opening is good news. “They were fishing in 80 to 100 feet of water, a lot of them, and the lobster had just started to come on in that area. And then they were forced to pull all the gear out of that area and move it into 60 feet of water or less,” he said. “There’s basically 400 boats in that area or close to it. If you take all those boats and put them in a little narrow strip between the shoreline and 60 feet depth of water … it’s an over-congestion of gear.” McGeoghegan said losses over the past two weeks could be significant for some crews. >click to read< 14:28

Fishing area closed after North Atlantic right whale sighting set to reopen this week

A lucrative lobster fishing area in the Maritimes is set to reopen this week after a sighting of North Atlantic right whales shuttered the fishery just weeks into the spring season. The endangered whales were spotted earlier this month in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, northeast of Prince Edward Island’s Malpeque and Cascumpec Bays. The sighting triggered a 15-day closure of popular lobster fishing grounds — part of Lobster Fishing Area 24. The federal Fisheries Department says the fishing area is set to reopen Friday. But it says two surveillance flights are required before the area reopens to fish harvesters to determine whether whales are still present.   >click to read< 13:32

N.L. group wants increase in northern cod catch from Minister Murray

We could use a bit more cod. That’s the message the Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council (NLGIDC) is sending to Joyce Murray, Canada’s minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Jim Baird is chair of the council, whose members include the Fish Food and Allied Workers union and inshore processors, including Barry Group, Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Co., Beothic Fish Processors and Fogo Island Co-operative Society. He told SaltWire members of the council want the minister to allow a harvest of 17,000 tonnes, or more, of northern cod from the stewardship fishery in zones 2J3KL, along the northeast coast of the province. >click to read <  19:06

Stock assessments show Maritime lobster population strong, fishery sustainable

Adam Cook is a DFO biologist who tracks lobster populations along the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy, waters that support nearly 3,000 commercial licence holders in 12 lobster fishing areas (LFAs). Cook and his colleagues recently posted stock assessments for 2022. He said all LFAs in the Maritimes are in a healthy zone for stock status. “Which suggests there’s still enough lobster to not raise any sort of conservation concerns. The commercial biomass is doing quite well,” Cook said. It’s the same story in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, although DFO’s stock assessments for five fishings area in that region have not been posted. >click to read< 10:17

‘Aggravation’ expected when part of lobster fishing area closes

Chris Wall is among those being asked by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to remove all their gear from a portion of lobster fishing area 24 before it closes on Tuesday at 5 p.m. due to the confirmed sighting of a North Atlantic right whale. “It will affect the bottom line because I think you’re going to find more people in a smaller area trying to catch the same amount of lobsters,” Wall said. “So … it will affect everybody. It’s just going to cause some aggravation, for sure.” Wall isn’t aware of any right whale ever getting caught in lobster fishing gear on P.E.I., he said. >click to read< 08:56