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Canada's Patrol Ship Fiasco

The Arctic is assuming increasing prominence as an area of national interest for Canada. As the ice melts and other countries jockey for position in the Arctic, Canada needs to assert a greater presence in the Arctic. The Harper Govt announced a couple of years ago its intention to build 6-8 patrol ships capable of operating in the Arctic as well as a major Arctic icebreaker.  A CBC news investigation has revealed that Canada will be paying though the nose for these patrol ships compared with the prices that other countries have paid recently for similar vessels. Apparently  Ottawa will pay Irving Shipbuilding $288 million just to design — not build — a fleet of new Arctic offshore patrol ships.  A study  of other countries shows they paid a fraction of that $288 million to actually build the ships — and paid less than a tenth as much for the design. The design of Canada's new ships is based upon a Norwegian vessel whose design Ottawa has already bought for just $5 million. Denmark acquired two patrol ships for $105 million in 2007. The Irish navy now is building two offshore patrol ships for $125 million. These facts indicate that Canadian taxpayers are being fleeced by this process. An ad by Irving Shipyards did little to counter that notion.

TAGS: sustainable fisheries, patrol ship fiasco, Arctic patrol ships, Irvings, government waste


 

Joe Oliver-a national disgrace

Harper's Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, continues to make a fool of himself as he jets around fighting to get pipelines approved. While in Washington he launched an attack on noted climatologist James Hansen and was appropriately ridiculed for doing so. This week while in Europe he announced that Canada would fight the EU in the WTO  if the EU proceeds with a fuel-quality directive that singles out crude from Canada’s oil sands as the most harmful to the planet’s climate. And this at a time when the Harper govt is anxiously trying to conclude a free trade deal with the EU. The following day Oliver was forced to issue a retraction by the denizens of PMO. There aren't too bright lights in the current Harper cabinet. Oliver is certainly not one of those few. There are recurring rumours of a cabinet shuffle soon to revive the Harper govt's flagging fortunes. Let's hope that Oliver is kicked off the bus when that happened.

TAGS: sustainable fisheries, climate change, Joe Oliver, pipelines


 

Are catches adequate to tell stock status/Pauly and Hilborn at it again

In an editorial and articles in this week's Nature, titled "Does Catch Reflect Abundance?", Daniel Pauly and Ray Hilborn resume their decade-long battle over the state of world fish stocks and how to manage fisheries sustainably. As Nature summarizes it, "In one piece, Daniel Pauly argues that 'catch data' of the number of fish caught are a vital tool for assessing the health of fish stocks. In their counterpoint piece, Ray Hilborn and Trevor Branch warn that over-reliance on this measure misses important subtleties and can misleadingly distil the health of entire ecosystems down to a landed tonnage. "This is far from an academic debate. If scientists cannot estimate fish numbers, and so the health of stocks, there is little hope that this resource can be exploited in a sustainable fashion," the editorial concludes.

Pauly has long been using raw catch data from FAO to pontificate about the state of world fisheries. Hilborn and colleague Trevor Branch argue that this is nonsense. They argue say that the changes in the amount of fish caught does not necessarily reflect the number of fish in the sea. In their view "A much better approach is to deduce the health of stocks region by region and fishery by fishery using scientific stock assessments, which collate all sorts of data – from the results of surveys conducted from research vessels to the catch per fishing effort, and the age and size distributions of the fish caught." Pauly argues that stock assessments are not available for many of the world's fisheries and are too costly for many third  world  countries.   Hilborn and Branch counter that good data are available for 40% of the world's fisheries and data exist which could be assembled for another 40%.

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, sustain, fish, fisheries management, Pauly, Hilborn, Nature, catch data, stock assessment


 

Cod cuts in New England/ Newfoundland Redux??

There has been extensive media coverage recently of the decisions taken by the New England Regional Council to cut the allowable cod catches in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. The National Post likened it to the cod moratorium imposed in Newfoundland in 1992. That comparison is spurious. The New England Council voted to cut the catch limit for cod in the Gulf of Maine by 77% and on Georges Bank by 66%. John Bullard, the senior NOAA administrator for the area, described it as a slide towards oblivion:  “It’s midnight and getting darker when it comes to how many cod there are,” he said. “There isn’t enough cod for people to make a decent living.” Fishermen decried the decisions, indicating that it would spell the end of the inshore fishery in that region.

At one time cod was vital to the economy of New England. In the 1700s, a “sacred cod” was bestowed on the State House in Massachusetts, where it hangs to this day as a symbol of the importance of cod fishing to the region. But that is no longer the case. The recent allowable catches have been low compared to the heyday and fishermen have not been catching their limits, a sure sign that the cod stocks were in decline. Some fishermen and environmentalists have said that overfishing was not the only reason for the paucity of cod, with some putting part of the blame on climate change. This aspect of the debate reminds one of the Newfoundland collapse. It is clear that biological productivity is changing as warming Atlantic waters in the south lead to an incursion of species from the south and a change in species assemblages. Normally overfished stocks off New England would rebound more quickly than in the less productive areas to the north. Will that happen again? Time will tell.

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fishing, sustain, cod,New England cod cuts, Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Newfoundland cod, New England Council


 

Etchegary lambastes export of unprocessed yellowtail to China

Below is  a letter from Gus Etchegary, Chair of the NL Fishery Community Alliance, to NL Minister of Fisheries Dalley, which provides the rationale why the NL government's decision to allow Ocean Choice International (OCI) to ship yellowtail flounder round to China is short-sighted and poor public policy. Canadian jobs are being sacrificed to line the pockets of the Sullivan brothers and their foreign funders.

Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
St. John's.

Dear Minister Dalley,

Having spent several months in Alaska we are familiar with much of the content of the McDowell Group report and having done business with the Deloitte and Touche for many years we are aware that both these companies are world class in their business.

With reference to your insulting remark that "our lack of appreciation for the challenges surrounding the industry today" it would appear that as a newcomer to the fishing industry you are unfortunately poorly advised by personnel who have had little experience in the fishery of today or in the past and are influenced by industry people whose vision of the future fishery is not in the best interests of the economic and social lives of fishermen in the Province. For your information and guidance we have for half a century and continue to this day to have frequent contact with leading fish harvesters, processors and marketing people in North America, Europe, Scandinavia and Asia. Nothing would please us more than introducing you to those people and provide you an opportunity to avoid making the horrendous errors your Government is making in the last several years regarding our fisheries (continued below under Read More).

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, unsustainable practices,Gus Etchegary, NL government, export of unprocessed yellowtail, Mnister Dalley, Ocean Choice International, fishery jobs


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