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Atlantic Fisheries Fund projects announced for Newfoundland and Labrador

Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announces more than $18 million for projects through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund Wednesday in St. John’s. Seated (from left) are Rob Shea, associate vice-president of the Marine Institute; Gudie Hutchings, Long Range Mountains MP; Churence Rogers, Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP; Premier Dwight Ball; and Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources Gerry Byrne.
Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announces more than $18 million for projects through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund Wednesday in St. John’s. Seated (from left) are Rob Shea, associate vice-president of the Marine Institute; Gudie Hutchings, Long Range Mountains MP; Churence Rogers, Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP; Premier Dwight Ball; and Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources Gerry Byrne. - Glen Whiffen

More than $18 million spread out over 65 projects spanning harvesting, processing, aquaculture and science sectors

The federal and provincial governments announced in St. John’s Wednesday a number of fisheries-related projects approved for funding in Newfoundland and Labrador through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.

More than $18 million was dished out for projects ranging from fish harvesters installing automated longline systems on their vessels for under $100,000, to processing companies installing state-of-the-art ice management systems costing in the millions of dollars.

In total on Wednesday, 65 projects were announced.

Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, was in St. John’s for the announcement. He said the funding ensures investments in harvesting and handling technologies, seafood processing automation and modernization, and sustainable aquaculture production.

There was also funding to support fisheries research to increase understanding of the impact of climate change on the productivity of fisheries.

“This new funding means more innovation and jobs for communities right across Newfoundland,” Wilkinson said.

Icewater Seafoods in Arnold’s Cove will acquire and install a world-class ice management system costing $4,454,000.

Icewater will contribute 25 per cent of the cost — or $1,224,350 — and the Atlantic Fisheries Fund the remainder in the form of a conditionally repayable loan, according to a news release.

“One of the most important things in our business is that fish remains as cold as possible from the moment it is caught until it reaches our customers. We monitor temperature of the fish daily at every stage of the production process,” said Alberto Wareham, president and CEO of Icewater Seafoods.

“Similarly, when our customers visit the plant from around the world, they come with temperature probes. This investment will equip Icewater with the latest technology in ice management, meaning more, colder and better-quality ice throughout the plant year-round, while also being able to freeze our products faster and more energy efficiently.”

Another big winner in the announcement Wednesday was the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor), which will receive funding of $705,550.

According to an FFAW-Unifor news release, the union is leading a fish harvester-initiated project that will lay the groundwork for a sustainable redfish fishery for the future of coastal communities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“This project is providing us with an unprecedented opportunity to build a sustainable fishery from the ground up that has the potential to provide substantial economic benefits for communities in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said FFAW-Unifor president Keith Sullivan.

The release notes that Rendell Genge, a fish harvester from Anchor Point, came to the union in late 2016 with the idea to build the new redfish fishery using sustainable methods to reduce bycatch and undersize catch.

“Redfish species have been seeing very good recruitment in our area, so we saw an opportunity here to build a new fishery that would help our fleet as we transition to an environment less favourable for shellfish,” said Genge. “We know the new fishery is not going to be like it was in the past. We need to find a way to release the small fish and minimize our bycatch of other species, and this experimental fishery is going to give us the chance to test different methods, so we can do things right from the start.”

The funding will contribute toward testing different gear types that aim to reduce bycatch of other species as well as to reduce the occurrence of undersize catch. More than $700,000 in total project costs will go directly to fishing equipment and charter costs for participating harvesters. Participating harvesters and the union are contributing the remainder of the costs toward the project, for a total estimated project cost of $881,938.

The funding, broken down into sectors, includes more than $3.7 million for 54 projects in harvesting throughout the province targeting all three cod stocks in Newfoundland and Labrador that support commercial and stewardship fisheries. Projects are focused on improving quality of landings through adoption of harvesting and on-board handling technologies.

More than $4.6 million has been provided for five projects throughout the province in the processing sector, with projects focusing on cutting-edge technology, automation and improving quality and productivity.

More than $1.5 million will go to four projects focused on improved technology and increasing aquaculture research to improve sustainability.

More than $4.3 million was provided for a five-year scientific research project focused on filling key knowledge gaps to improve stock assessments, contribute to fisheries certification, and inform strategies for managing the effects of climate and productivity changes.

The funding provides $4.5 million for a multiyear applied research and development project focused on driving innovation in the seafood sector by linking the demands of industry to the capacities of universities.

“The Atlantic Fisheries Fund is creating new opportunities for provincial producers of sustainably sourced, high-quality fish and seafood products,” said Premier Dwight Ball. “This latest round of investments provides important financial support to harvesters, processors, aquaculture operations, academia and other stakeholders throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and reaffirms the federal government’s recognition of the important contribution the fishing and aquaculture industry plays in supporting and sustaining many rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

See list of projects here: 

https://www.canada.ca/en/fisheries-oceans/news/2018/12/the-government-of-canada-and-the-province-of-newfoundland-and-labrador-fund-projects-to-boost-sustainability-in-the-fish-and-seafood-sector.html

glen.whiffen@thetelegram.com

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