In the News: November 2016

First published in Landings, November, 2016.

Canada gears up for the winter season

Nova Scotia Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 35 began its season on October 14; lobstering there will end on December 31. The larger lobster fisheries are in LFA 34 and 33 off southwestern Nova Scotia and the south shore; they will begin on the last Monday in November and run until May 31.

P.E.I. lobstermen hauled in as many lobsters this fall as they did last year — more, in some areas. The season, which began the first week of August, wrapped up Monday for 225 Island fishermen, who share the waters with nearly 500 from New Brunswick and a handful from Nova Scotia. Many lobstermen attribute the good season to exceptional weather. Fishermen in both the spring and fall seasons saw better prices than the previous year. The new P.E.I. 12-member Lobster Marketing Board will begin to put a marketing plan in place within the next several months to spend the one-cent-per-pound levy collected from fishermen this season, expected to be in the range of $300,000.

Derelict gear retrieval to begin again this winter

The Center for Coastal Studies will be working this winter to clean up lost, abandoned or derelict fishing gear from Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays. The organization was awarded a $95,000 grant through NOAA’s Marine Debris Program to survey likely areas where fishing gear is expected and work with commercial lobstermen to identify, remove, document, and properly dispose of lost gear from January through April.

“We try to isolate areas where gear will be likely to be found and recover it with grappling techniques,” said Laura Ludwig, the marine debris project coordinator with the Center for Coastal Studies. Previous efforts in 2013 and 2014 recovered more than 16 tons of gear including 660 lobster traps, half of which were returned to owners. The project runs through next November but recovery efforts will only take place during the winter.

Fishermen continue to contest tidal power project

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association appeared in October in Nova Scotia Supreme Court to ask for the court to stay the province’s approval to allow Cape Sharp Tidal Ventures to install two 16-metre-wide turbines at the bottom of the Minas Passage. Cape Sharp Tidal is a partnership between Halifax-based Emera and French-owned Open Hydro. The Nova Scotia government and Cape Sharp Tidal want the court to dismiss the application. The Fishermen’s Association claims that the tidal turbines would cause a decline in commercial fishing across the entire region. Their argument is that the current scale of the project is much greater than the proposal that was approved in 2009.

Right whales return to the Bay of Fundy

A marine biologist and leading researcher of North Atlantic right whales declared 2016 a banner year for North Atlantic right whales in the Bay of Fundy. Moira Brown, a senior scientist with the New England Aquarium and the Canadian Whale Institute, said that after five years of desert-like conditions, an unexpected richness and diversity of sea-life has returned to the bay. In 2015, she and her team documented eight right whales during their annual survey. In 2016, they found more than 70 individual right whales by mid-October. Since 1985 the team of marine biologists have studied the population of North Atlantic right whales that visit the Bay of Fundy in search of the blooms of plankton in the deep waters off Grand Manan. The plankton are swept into the bay by strong currents from the Gulf of Maine; the whales follow to feed and court.

EU denies Swedish ban on American lobster

In October, the European Union denied a Swedish proposal to ban live American lobster from the EU’s 28 member countries. After finding several dozen American lobsters living off its shores, Sweden claimed that the crustacean threatened to interbreed with native European species, or bring new diseases to local fisheries. Members of the European Commission’s Invasive Alien Species Committee rejected that argument.