Alaska/Pacific Coast

Bering Sea Crab Fisheries Receive Certifications Recognizing Their Sustainability
KNOM by Davis Hovey – February 6, 2018
Five Alaska crab fisheries, including two Bering Sea ones, have met the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Standard.
http://www.knom.org/wp/blog/2018/02/06/bering-sea-crab-fisheries-receive-certifications-recognizing-their-sustainability/

International

Canada Unveils Updates to Fisheries Act to Cautious Praise from Industry, Environmentalists
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [News Analysis] by John Sackton – February 7, 2018
Liberal Fisheries Minister Dominick LeBlanc unveiled the governments new Fisheries Act amendments, and the plan, under wraps for months, received cautious praise from both industry and environmentalists.

Canada’s 100 year old fishery act has been sorely in need of modernization, with one of the most glaring weaknesses being that ministerial decisions on quotas and fisheries could be taken without reference to science or the state of fish stocks.

Further, under the previous Harper government, the Act was weakened in 2012 as many habitat and environmental protections of fisheries were stripped away, the budget for science and enforcement was cut drastically, and the federal Dept. of Fisheries was admonished about publicly sharing information.

The liberal government produced a report on the impact of these changes, making 32 recommendations to reverse them.

LeBlanc’s new plan reverses almost all of these negative changes.

But it also goes further, adding many reforms that are hallmarks of modern successful fishery management legislation.

The Act also increases the DFO budget by $CA 284 million to provide for better management and enforcement, restoring some of the cuts made under the Harper government.

The new Act will revise and expand legislation in the following areas:  Fish Conservation and Habitat; Rights of Indigenous People’s, Use of Science in Fishery Management Decisions, Protections, including social and economic considerations, for inshore harvest fisheries, Streamlined enforcement, and an Increase in the DFO budget and transparency.

Fish Conservation and Habitat:

The Act will require the protection of all fish and fish habitat through reintroducing the provision that development projects, including mining and other resource projects do not result in “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.”  Harper’s plan had changed this provision to just outlawing anything that did ‘serious harm’.

The Act designates certain projects as requiring ministerial review, and will give priority to those that restore depleted or damaged fish habitat.

The Act also allows for the creation of long term protections on marine biodiversity, and allows for the creation of rebuilding plans for depleted fisheries.  Where those plans are in place, management decisions must take them into account.

This is somewhat similar in intent to the US Magnuson Stevens Act’s designation of fisheries as overfished or undergoing overfishing, and requiring a plan to restore overfished fisheries.

The Act also requires transparency about projects that impact marine resources, including publishing the findings and results of project reviews.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Act brings First Nations into the fishery management process.  First, the Act requires that fishery plans and habitat decisions must consider the adverse impact on indigenous peoples.

Secondly, it gives the federal government power to enter into agreements with Indigenous governing bodies in the same way it enters into agreements on fisheries with Provinces.

LeBlanc said the Act makes indigenous peoples ‘co-managers’.

Use of Science in Management

The Act gives the government power to take short term measures to protect fisheries with in-season closures and adjustments.  For example, the Act would give the government power to close fisheries when needed by emergency action, outside of the context of a management plan.

The example cited was the deaths of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017, and the government’s inability to take immediate emergency measures to reduce impacts.

The legislation enables the creation of rebuilding plans, and provides protection for those plans once in place.

Protection for Inshore Harvesters

The Act explicitly provides protection for inshore harvesters.

First, it enshrines in law a fleet separation license policy that requires inshore fishing licenses only be held by harvesters, and not be subject to control by processors or lenders.

Secondly, it states that social and economic considerations will be taken into account in management decisions.  This was a highly contentious argument in the allocation of inshore and offshore quotas in the declining shrimp fishery in Newfoundland.  The language is an unambiguous win for inshore harvesters.

This effectively prioritizes inshore quotas over offshore quotas in some areas of the country.

It also brings considerations of employment and economic value directly into the management process.

Enforcement and Transparency

The Act also streamlines enforcement, setting up administrative procedures to deal with violations of the Fisheries Act.  Currently all violations have to be brought to court, which is a time consuming and expensive process for DFO.  The Act would allow the creation of an administrative system to mete out fines and penalties separate from the court system, which would still be the redress of last resort.

Finally, the act encourages transparency which was anathema to the Harper government, which tried to keep much of the DFO science findings secret, and only to be released when they politically supported the government.

Harvesters in PEI and Newfoundland were quite supportive of the new legislation, especially the parts that gave harvesters and inshore fisheries new legal protections.

The Fisheries Council of Canada, speaking for the major processors, also was cautiously optimistic.  They stressed that a lot of details had to be worked out, and that much of the impact of the Act would come from how it was interpreted and carried out.

However, the biggest fear of Processors was that the Act would radically upend the quota system by unilaterally assigning some present quotas to new owners, especially indigenous entities.

It appears that the Act will take a balanced approach that will bring Indigenous communities into the management and allocation process, but that within the process all the existing issues of investment, community dependence, and economic benefits of fisheries will also be in the law to be considered.

It does not appear that the Act is unfriendly to the further development of commercial fisheries in Canada.

The Environmentalists were also generally favorable towards the Act, applauding the restoration of habitat protections, the inclusion of a prohibition on taking live cetaceans for zoos and exhibitions, and the strengthening of the rebuilding framework for fisheries.

However, the law is very complex, and so far everyone is reacting as the best foot is put forward.  There may very well be pitfalls in the implementation of the law that reopen significant conflicts.

It appears that the government has been successful in the first phase introducing the legislation to generally positive reviews.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1091532/Canada-Unveils-Updates-to-Fisheries-Act-to-Cautious-Praise-from-Industry-Environmentalists

Environment/Science

Drones giving B.C. researchers new perspective on jellyfish populations
The Canadian Press by Gemma Karstens-Smith – February 6, 2018
VANCOUVER — Technology is allowing researchers in British Columbia to study blooms of jellyfish and their impact on the ocean in a whole new way.
http://www.timescolonist.com/drones-giving-b-c-researchers-new-perspective-on-jellyfish-populations-1.23165419

Federal Register

North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/07/2018
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Scallop Plan Team will meet on February 21, 2018, in Kodiak, AK.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/02/07/2018-02387/north-pacific-fishery-management-council-public-meeting

List of Fisheries for 2018
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/07/2018
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2018, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The LOF for 2018 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level of mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan (TRP) requirements.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/02/07/2018-02442/list-of-fisheries-for-2018

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
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Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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February 7, 2018