Hot News

New Protections For Fish and Their Habitat

posted Feb 8, 2018, 11:50 AM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Feb 8, 2018, 11:58 AM ]

Government of Canada introduces new protections for fish and their habitat

News Release

From Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Ottawa, Ontario – From coast to coast to coast, Canadians have signaled their strong passion for protecting the fish and fish habitat that play such a vital role in our environment, our communities and our livelihoods. Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced amendments to the Fisheries Act that would restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards to protect our fish and their habitat for generations to come.

The Government of Canada is putting in place better rules to protect our environment. The proposed amendments introduced today would restore the protections to all fish and fish habitats that were lost with changes that were made in 2012. Proposed changes would also put in place new modern safeguards to help our communities by better managing projects, enhancing marine protection and allowing the sustainable use of our resources while protecting them for our future.

The government will invest up to $284.2 million to support restoring lost protections to fish and incorporating modern safeguards.

As part of the Government of Canada’s Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes, the Government of Canada is restoring protections and rebuilding trust. Fisheries and Oceans Canada consulted broadly, hearing from thousands of Canadians, to ensure changes to the Act focus on the areas that matter most to Canadians. The new Fisheries Act reflects what we heard from two rounds of online public consultations, over a hundred meetings with partners, stakeholders and Indigenous groups, and recommendations from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Photo legend: The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announces amendments to the Fisheries Act that would restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards to protect our fish and their habitat for generations to come.

Additional Multimedia

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard


“To preserve, protect and help restore our environment we need a Fisheries Act that Canadians can trust. Today, I am pleased we are introducing amendments to the Fisheries Act that will restore the protections for fish and fish habitat that were lost under the previous government. We are responding to calls from Canadians who told us clearly that the health of our fish and ecosystems is important to them, and that they want us to protect and rebuild fish habitat. By restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards, we are creating a Fisheries Act for the future to preserve our precious resources for generations to come.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick Facts

  • The proposed amendments would:

  • restore lost protections by returning to comprehensive protection against harming  all fish and fish habitat;

  • strengthen the role of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development;

  • recognize that decisions can be guided by principles of sustainability, precaution and ecosystem management;

  • promote restoration of degraded habitat and rebuilding of depleted fish stocks;

  • allow for the better management of large and small projects impacting fish and fish habitat through a new permitting framework and codes of practice;

  • create full transparency for projects with a public registry;

  • create new fisheries management tools to enhance the protection of fish and ecosystems;

  • strengthen the long-term protection of marine refuges for biodiversity;

  • help ensure that the economic benefits of fishing remain with the licence holders and their community by providing clear ability to enshrine current inshore fisheries policies into regulations; and

  • clarify and modernize enforcement powers to address emerging fisheries issues and to align with current provisions in other legislation.

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Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada



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New snow crab fishing rules

posted Jan 23, 2018, 7:21 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Jan 23, 2018, 7:23 PM ]

New snow crab fishing rules rein in use of ropes to protect
North Atlantic right whales

At least 17 of the endangered mammals were killed in Canada and U.S. waters last year

By Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, CBC News
Posted: Jan 23, 2018 7:45 AM AT Last Updated: Jan 23, 2018 8:26 PM AT

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the new measures will be enforced on wharves and at sea.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the new measures will be enforced on wharves and at sea. (CBC)

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc has announced four changes to the snow crab fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglement, including reducing the amount of rope floating on the surface and mandatory reporting of all lost gear.

'We're expecting 100 per cent compliance.'- Dominic LeBlanc, federal fisheries minister

The new management measures will take effect immediately and will be enforced "very aggressively," LeBlanc said during the news conference in Moncton on Tuesday.

A "series" of other measures will be announced in the coming weeks and months, said LeBlanc, but he wanted to announce these steps now to allow the industry time to prepare for the upcoming season, which normally begins around mid-April, depending on the amount of ice.

The government will "most likely" impose speed restrictions for vessels again, LeBlanc told reporters, but the primary responsibility for that belongs to Transport Canada Minister Marc Garneau, he said.

Last summer, Transport Canada imposed a mandatory 10-knot speed limit in the western part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for vessels 20 metres or longer to help reduce the risk of whale strikes and to improve the chances of survival for any whales struck.

Other pending crab fishery measures will relate to the number of traps permitted this season and the possibility of using Coast Guard ice-breakers to start the season sooner, said LeBlanc.

That would allow fishermen to catch their quota and remove their gear from the water as early as possible, "hopefully reducing the risk of contact with the whales."

whale, Miscou Island

Scientists estimate only 450 to 500 North Atlantic right whales are left in the world, following the deaths of at least 17 in Canada and U.S. waters last year. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Scientists have advised the government North Atlantic right whales could be back in the gulf as early as April, Transport Canada communications adviser Julie Leroux said.

It is not possible to predict how many will return, said Leroux, "due to the variability" observed in recent years.

The government will also invest "many millions of dollars" in "very high-tech, state-of-the-art detection and monitoring equipment" that will help protect North Atlantic right whales on the East Coast and killer whales on the west coast, said LeBlanc.

At least 17 North Atlantic right whales died in Canadian and U.S. waters last year.

Necropsies on seven of the carcasses determined four whales died of blunt force trauma from collisions with ships, while the other three likely died from entanglements in fishing gear.

'Extremely dire' 

There are only an estimated 450 to 500 of the whales left in the world.

Of those, only about 100 are breeding females, said Kim Davies, an oceanographer at Dalhousie University and an expert on North Atlantic right whales.

The situation is "extremely dire," she said.

Any measures that help to reduce the amount of fishing line in the water, especially slack line on the surface, "is a very good step," said Davies.

Right whales tend to spend a lot of time at the surface — coming up to breathe, feed and socialize, she said. "So this slack line really represents a high entanglement risk." 

right whale entangled (international fund for animal welfare)

Whales can travel hundreds of kilometres while entangled in fishing gear, said Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

The normal life expectancy of the animals is about 70 years, "but we kill them [through fishing gear entanglements and collisions with vessels] by the ages of 20 to 30."

Based on the current rates of mortality and populations growth, researchers expect all of the breeding females will be dead within two decades, said Davies.

"So every whale counts. Every whale that we can stop from becoming entangled counts toward saving the population."

An unprecedented number of the right whales appeared in the gulf last year, which scientists suspect is related to climate change forcing the whales to find new sources of food.

Colour-coded ropes, numbered buoys

Under the new crab fishing rules, a maximum of 3.7 metres (two fathoms) of rope can be used when attaching a secondary buoy to a primary buoy, said LeBlanc.

Previously, there has been no restriction on the amount of rope used, he said, noting the government heard about "dozens of metres" of rope being used in some cases.

Fishermen will also be required to add metal weights to portions of the rope that attaches a crab trap to a primary buoy to ensure the rope is vertical and not floating on the surface of the water once the crab trap has been set.

Snow Crab Quebec

The snow crab fishing season normally begins around mid-April, but the government is exploring the possibility of starting it sooner to help reduce the risk of whale entanglements. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

That rope will now be marked with the colour specific to the fishing area in which they're authorized to fish, which will help officials identify the place of origin of any future entanglements, said LeBlanc.

Research has shown entangled whales can travel "hundreds of kilometres" away from the area where they first came into contact with the fishing gear, he said.

Similarly, each buoy will be marked with a sequential number to identify where it came from and lost gear must be reported, along with its last-known GPS position.

This will help the government understand how much fishing gear is lost annually and determine if it needs to assist with retrieval efforts, said LeBlanc.

'Rigorous' inspections

Conservation protection officers will be inspecting gear "rigorously" on wharves and at sea before and during the season, said LeBlanc.

"We're expecting 100 per cent compliance," he said, pointing out some of the new measures were suggested by the industry itself.

"They have shown an enormous desire to collaborate with us," said LeBlanc. "So I don't imagine there will be much tolerance from the fishing industry for members … who choose not to respect these conditions."

Anyone who doesn't "will face the consequences."

The new requirements will be included in a harvester's licence conditions, department spokesperson Krista Petersen later told CBC News.

"A person found by a fishery officer to be in contravention of the regulations may be charged with an offence that can result in punishment ranging from fines to an indictable offence," she said.

The minister said it will be up to prosecutors and judges to determine the penalties, in accordance with the Fisheries Act.

"But I am saying publicly that we will regard these as serious offences and our investigating officers will be treating these are serious offences and will be working with prosecutors and others to ensure the seriousness of these offences is understood."​

To help fishermen transition to the new requirements, conservation protection officers will be available immediately to answer questions, LeBlanc said.

No decision yet on rescues

Joe Howlett rescue

The late Joe Howlett using a long pole with a knife attached to cut a whale free from fishing gear before his fatal accident last summer. (Canadian Whale Institute/New England Aquarium)

Whale rescues, suspended last summer after Campobello Island fisherman Joe Howlett was killed trying to free an entangled whale, remain on hold for now, said LeBlanc.

But he hopes to announce a "Plan B" before the whales return.

"Until I'm satisfied that we have a safe operational plan, I cannot in good conscience allow people's safety to be put in jeopardy, but I'm encouraged … that we'll be able ot arrive at a safe plan," he said.

U.S. fisheries service being sued

In the United States, conservation and animal-protection groups are suing the National Marine Fisheries Service, alleging it failed to protect right whales from entanglement in commercial fishing gear.

The lawsuit alleges the federal management of the U.S. lobster fishery violates the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

It seeks to force the agency to do a sufficient examination of the fishery's impact on North Atlantic right whales and take more steps to prevent entanglements. 

With files from Shift

Minister LeBlanc considers all options to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale from further harm

posted Nov 10, 2017, 12:50 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Nov 10, 2017, 1:07 PM ]

Minister LeBlanc considers all options to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale from further harm

News Release - 2017-11-10

From Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Moncton, New Brunswick – Canada’s commitment to protecting the North Atlantic Right Whale was front and centre at a roundtable meeting led by the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Minister LeBlanc met with representatives from fishing organizations, marine transportation industries, cruise lines, ferry associations, Indigenous peoples, whale experts and scientists, as well as the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to discuss concrete actions which can be taken to better protect the right whale in Canadian waters.

This roundtable is just one part of a comprehensive approach to ensure these marine mammals are protected for future generations.

Moving forward, the Government of Canada will work with partners on many of the specific proposals that were discussed throughout the day, which include:

•      Actively exploring opportunities to adjust existing fishing gear immediately to reduce the risk of entanglements.
•      Testing new gear technologies that would reduce the amount of rope in the water and lower the risk of whale entanglements.
•      Adjusting fishing seasons to avoid periods when right whales congregate.
•      Implementing measures to reduce lost fishing gear that poses a risk to whales and other species.
•      Enhancing whale sighting and detection information, and timely sharing of this information among all those concerned.
•      Considering seasonal speed restrictions in target areas and adjustments to shipping lanes based on accurate and timely whale sightings information.
•      Improving the collaboration and coordination across industry sectors, governments and non-governmental organizations to leverage the expertise on the protection and recovery of the North Atlantic Right Whale.

The collective expertise gathered in this forum and the proposed actions will help inform government policy on reducing the impacts of human activity on right whales and to protecting our waters and marine life for generations to come.


“Everyone around the table understood the urgency of this situation, and the need to take concrete actions to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale. Having experts, industry representatives, scientists and Indigenous communities participate in these meetings brings a more diverse and complete understanding of the situation. This discussion was profoundly helpful in assessing the long-term options available to our government. We will work quickly to ensure the survival and recovery of this iconic species.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick Facts

  • The roundtable meeting stems from an unprecedented 12 North Atlantic Right Whale deaths in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from June to September 2017.

  • The Government of Canada’s $1.5 billion investment in the Oceans Protection Plan includes measures that will address threats to marine mammals in Canadian waters and enhance capacity to respond to marine mammal incidents.

  • In summer 2017, Canadians were invited to share their views through the Let’s Talk Whales consultation aimed at helping the recovery of the North Atlantic Right Whale, the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga and the Southern Resident Killer Whale. Almost 20,000 people participated and contributed over 200 ideas in response to the question “How can we, as Canadians, take action now to reduce impacts on at-risk whales and help their recovery?”

Associated Links



Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 



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Government of Canada is investing in science capacity and jobs at the St. Andrews Biological Station

posted Nov 10, 2017, 12:38 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Nov 10, 2017, 1:03 PM ]

Government of Canada is investing in science capacity and jobs at the St. Andrews Biological Station

News Release - July 2017

From Fisheries and Oceans Canada

St. Andrews, NB - The Government of Canada is committed to using scientific evidence to inform marine management decisions. Investments in science will help protect our oceans and ensure that our fisheries and aquaculture sectors provide meaningful employment for Canadians for generations to come.

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard today announced that the Government of Canada continues to implement investments of $8.9 million at the St. Andrews Biological Station, Atlantic Canada’s oldest marine research facility. The investments continue to focus on upgrades to the laboratories to support ocean science research and improve the building’s accessibility, safety and security. 

Minister LeBlanc also announced that 15 new scientists, biologists, hydrographers and other science professionals will be located at the Station. These new employees will support healthy fish stocks and ecosystems, and sustainable aquaculture. They will also do important work to help protect our marine environments and communities from the potential effects of oil spills and day-to-day vessel operations.

Some of these new employees will be hired under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, which will improve marine safety and responsible shipping, and protect Canada’s coastal habitats, ecosystems and marine species. Others will be hired under the $197.1 million Budget 2016 investment in ocean and freshwater sciences.

Through the Oceans Protection Plan and Budget 2016 investments, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is hiring 254 science professionals across the country.

Photo legend: The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced funding in support of scientific research and 15 new science positions at the St. Andrews Biological Station.


“The St. Andrews Biological Station has made significant contributions to marine science since 1908, and our government is pleased to be investing in improved infrastructure and in rebuilding DFO’s scientific capacity. Our investment in infrastructure and science staff will ensure that this facility can continue to conduct world-class scientific research for many years to come.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“The St. Andrews Biological Station is recognized as a world-class research facility. Further investment in infrastructure and new scientific staff signals our government’s strong commitment to both science and economic growth in the region. We are already seeing a marine industry cluster develop around this centre and that will continue to grow with today’s announcement.”

Karen Ludwig, Member of Parliament, New Brunswick Southwest


Quick Facts

  • Founded in 1908, the St. Andrews Biological Station conducts scientific studies focussed on the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine, as well as regional coastal ecosystems and traditional fisheries. A large portion of research is done in collaboration with universities, environmental groups, and the aquaculture and fishing industries.

  • The infrastructure upgrades are funded under the Federal Infrastructure Fund.


Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada


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Huntsman Marine Science Centre receives $6.6 million to boost N.B. aquaculture sector

posted Nov 9, 2017, 1:19 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 1:19 PM ]

Updated: September 14, 2016 4:30 pm

Huntsman Marine Science Centre receives $6.6 million to boost N.B. aquaculture sector

By Video Journalist  Global News

WATCH ABOVE: A key component of the aquaculture sector in New Brunswick is receiving millions of dollars in government funding to go toward two projects. As Global's Andrew Cromwell reports officials believe it will result in more business and new jobs.

- A A +

A significant investment in the aquaculture industry in southwestern New Brunswick could mean dozens of new high-paying jobs. The federal and provincial governments announced $6.6 million for the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews for a pair of projects.

Ottawa, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is contributing about $5 million. The provincial government will come up with most of the rest of the money. The Huntsman Centre and Northern Harvest Sea Farms are also investing in the projects.

READ MORE: New Brunswick government releases its vision plan for economic growth

One of the projects will see the amount of salt water pumped into the centre for various research projects tripled, which officials hope will attract more research.

“We have potential clients that we are waiting to have the asset in place to entice to come and increase our business here at the Huntsman,” said Science Centre chairman Fraser Walsh.

It’s hoped business will double over the next four years and that more than 20 new jobs are created. Currently, more than 45 people work at the centre.

The other project involves new programs that aim to increase fish health and disease resistance.

“We’re in a global industry so these kind of programs are being done and supported significantly by governments in countries like Norway, Scotland and Chile, so we have to do it to keep up,” said Larry Ingalls, president of Northern Harvest Sea Farms in St. George.

The Huntsman Marine Science Centre is hoping to see the business growth over the next four years.


New funding announced for PEARL!

posted Nov 9, 2017, 6:44 AM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 6:45 AM ]

Evidence for Democracy


We have some great news to share!

Thanks to your efforts, the federal government announced today that they will provide some bridge funding for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in the high Arctic into Fall 2019.

PEARL is one of only a handful of high Arctic research stations in the world. From its scientifically strategic location in Canada’s high arctic, PEARL is able to investigate crucial environmental issues like ozone depletion, airborne spread of pollutants and monitor high Arctic climate changes.

This funding will ensure that the PEARL lab stays open - and this wouldn’t have happened without you! Once again, our community has shown that science advocacy works.

But climate science in Canada isn’t in the clear. PEARL is only one of seven climate and atmospheric research programs that have had their funding cut.

Without new funding these other programs researching crucially important issues like how to improve climate predictions, the role of aerosols in climate change and how to better predict sea ice and snow cover are at risk.

Canada can and should be a world-leader in climate and atmospheric science. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with you and the government to make sure a robust and long-term solution is in place.

Even though there is more work to do, this is a big win. Thank you for making it happen!

Katie Gibbs
Executive Director  

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Evidence for Democracy is the leading fact-driven, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization promoting the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making in Canada.

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Marine Pollution Bulletin - The Gulfwatch contaminants ....

posted Oct 4, 2017, 6:05 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Oct 4, 2017, 6:06 PM ]

Sarah D. Chamberlaina,⁎, Peter G. Wellsa,b, Bertrum H. MacDonaldc

a Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4R2, Canada
b International Ocean Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4R2, Canada
c School of Information Management, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4R2, Canada

Harbour water safe only on the surface

posted Oct 1, 2017, 6:00 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Oct 4, 2017, 6:07 PM ]

Letter to The Chronicle Herald  Sept 2017 

Reader’s Corner


Harbour water safe only on the surface


Not surprisingly, there is renewed interest in Halifax Harbor for recreational fishing and swimming (The Chronicle Herald, recent articles). Sewage and other household effluents produced by HRM residents undergo advanced primary treatment before entering the harbor.  Storm water overflows after severe rain events are not always treated.  But overall, harbor water quality appears to have improved – waters are clearer and visible surface sludge is rare. 

But a word of caution is apt. Despite earlier studies, there is no ongoing monitoring of harbor water, sediment and fish tissue(s) to ensure the safety of citizens. The data publically available for comprehensive health risk assessments of fishing and swimming are severely limited or out of date.  

Federal departments (Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada) should be conducting such monitoring and assessments but apparently do not, despite their respective responsibilities.  As well, the Province and HRM do cursory monitoring, if at all.  

Occasional single-point monitoring of fecal coliform bacteria is inadequate for meaningful health risk assessments. Water masses are highly variable in space and time, and contaminated bottom sediments sometimes mix with sub-surface waters that contact fish and swimmers.  In the absence of on-going reliable data on levels of chemical contaminants in local fish tissue (e.g., mercury, lead, plasticizers, oil constituents) and levels of water-borne pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, parasites), safe conditions may be illusory.   

Hence, several actions seem prudent.  If you fish, eat what you catch sparingly, avoid bottom feeders and practise catch and release. If you swim, avoid ingesting the water, and wash well afterwards.  Most important, contact your government representatives and demand renewed comprehensive monitoring programs. Harbor waters deserve timely, evidence-based protection if fishing and swimming are to proceed safely.


Peter Wells

Halifax, NS.

Prime Minister introduces Canada’s new top scientist

posted Sep 27, 2017, 7:14 PM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Oct 4, 2017, 6:07 PM ]

Prime Minister introduces Canada’s new top scientist

September 26, 2017

The Government of Canada is committed to strengthen science in government decision-making and to support scientists’ vital work.

In keeping with these commitments, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced Dr. Mona Nemer as Canada’s new Chief Science Advisor, following an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process.  

We know Canadians value science. As the new Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Nemer will help promote science and its real benefits for Canadians—new knowledge, novel technologies, and advanced skills for future jobs. These breakthroughs and new opportunities form an essential part of the Government’s strategy to secure a better future for Canadian families and to grow Canada’s middle class.

Dr. Nemer is a distinguished medical researcher whose focus has been on the heart, particularly on the mechanisms of heart failure and congenital heart diseases. In addition to publishing over 200 scholarly articles, her research has led to new diagnostic tests for heart failure and the genetics of cardiac birth defects. Dr. Nemer has spent more than ten years as the Vice-President, Research at the University of Ottawa, has served on many national and international scientific advisory boards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Member of the Order of Canada, and a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec.

As Canada’s new top scientist, Dr. Nemer will provide impartial scientific advice to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science. She will also make recommendations to help ensure that government science is fully available and accessible to the public, and that federal scientists remain free to speak about their work. Once a year, she will submit a report about the state of federal government science in Canada to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science, which will also be made public.


“We have taken great strides to fulfill our promise to restore science as a pillar of government decision-making. Today, we took another big step forward by announcing Dr. Mona Nemer as our Chief Science Advisor. Dr. Nemer brings a wealth of expertise to the role. Her advice will be invaluable and inform decisions made at the highest levels. I look forward to working with her to promote a culture of scientific excellence in Canada.”
— The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“A respect for science and for Canada’s remarkable scientists is a core value for our government. I look forward to working with Dr. Nemer, Canada’s new Chief Science Advisor, who will provide us with the evidence we need to make decisions about what matters most to Canadians: their health and safety, their families and communities, their jobs, environment and future prosperity.”
— The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“I am honoured and excited to be Canada’s Chief Science Advisor. I am very pleased to be representing Canadian science and research – work that plays a crucial role in protecting and improving the lives of people everywhere. I look forward to advising the Prime Minister and the Minister of Science and working with the science community, policy makers, and the public to make science part of government policy making.”
— Dr. Mona Nemer, Chief Science Advisor, Canada

Quick Facts

  • Dr. Nemer is also a Knight of the Order of Merit of the French Republic, and has been awarded honorary doctorates from universities in France and Finland.
  • The Office of the Chief Science Advisor will be housed at Innovation, Science and Economic Development and supported by a secretariat.

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Salmon farms receiver feared 'environmental disaster' from sea lice outbreak

posted Mar 21, 2017, 5:41 AM by SOS SaveOceanScience   [ updated Mar 21, 2017, 6:11 AM ]

Salmon farms receiver feared 'environmental disaster' from sea lice outbreak

A quarter-million salmon died in their Bay of Fundy pens last summer during a sea lice outbreak

By Connell Smith, CBC News Posted: Mar 20, 2017 7:30 AM AT Last Updated: Mar 20, 2017 12:58 PM AT

If a sea lice outbreak at two Gray Group salmon farms hadn't been controlled, 600 tons of rotting fish could have washed onshore at Saint Andrews, according to court documents.

If a sea lice outbreak at two Gray Group salmon farms hadn't been controlled, 600 tons of rotting fish could have washed onshore at Saint Andrews, according to court documents. (CBC)


Documents filed with New Brunswick's Court of Queen's Bench reveal an environmental disaster was only narrowly averted last summer in the Bay of Fundy.

The incident is tied to an outbreak of sea lice at aquaculture sites managed by the Gray Group, which had slipped into receivership owing millions of dollars to creditors.

More than 250,000 salmon died from the fast-growing infestation before contractors managed to gain the upper hand.

An additional 284,000 salmon were pre-emptively killed to contain the spread.

Fears of dead fish on shore

Details about the event are laid out in a report and supporting documents written by Ernst & Young receiver George Kinsman and included in the file.

Kinsman describes fears at the height of the crisis that hundreds of tons of rotting salmon would wash up on the shoreline at Saint Andrews during last summer's tourist season.

Kinsman, a chartered accountant and vice-president with the firm, had been appointed to manage the aquaculture company and to find a buyer for its assets.

He had only been on the job for weeks when a spike in sea lice counts was discovered at Hospital Island, one of three salmon farms the Gray group of companies operated in Passamaquoddy Bay near Saint Andrews.

Insurers resisted pre-emptive kill

Information Morning - Saint John
Town of St. Andrews not aware of massive sea lice outbreak at salmon farm
00:00 08:17

The documents describe a race against the clock as Kinsman tried to convince insurers that more than 500,000 fish at Hospital Island and a nearby site at Hog Island needed to be killed to prevent the spread of the infestation to other areas.

Kinsman had been informed by insurance adjuster Greg Potten of a provision in the insurance policy against "intentional slaughter" that would prevent coverage for the loss of the fish.

In an email to Potten, Kinsman describe a potential "environmental disaster" if the fish were not pre-emptively killed, "with 600 tons of rotting biomass washing up along the Saint Andrews sea shore line, resulting in unsightly and unbearable odours that will affect the seaside vacation townships."

Without a green light from the insurer and with sea lice counts quickly climbing at the two cage sites, Kinsman went ahead with arrangements for contractors to collect and kill the fish.

Gray's Aqua farm sites passamaquoddy Bay

A fast-spreading sea lice outbreak killed nearly half the salmon last summer at two farm sites on Passamaquoddy Bay near Saint Andrews. (CBC)

Another letter, from the Department of Aquaculture's chief veterinarian, suggested the company should go even further and pre-emptively kill all fish at all three Gray-owned farm sites in the bay.

"With great certainty, as the Chief Veterinarian Prov. of NB, I can attest that all of the fish at the three indicated sites will expire within the next 30-60 days," wrote Michael Beattie.

Not to kill the fish now, he suggested, would be to create a "catastrophic event."

Kinsman hired contractors with pumper boats to collect the live salmon at the Hospital Island and Hogg Island farms, but the workers discovered nearly half the fish, or 252,000, had already died from the sea lice infestation.

The remaining fish were "euthanized," although the report does not say how that was done.

'No one had any knowledge of this whatsoever.'- Doug Naish, mayor of Saint Andrews 

The effort managed to contain the sea lice problem, fish at the third Gray farm, near Simpson Island were sold in September of 2016.

Saint Andrews Mayor Doug Naish says neither he nor town staff were aware of problems last summer at Hospital Island, which is visible from the popular tourist town.

"No one had any knowledge of this whatsoever," Naish said.

The executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, an aquaculture industry group, said the incident was a "great concern" for her members.

"There was a salmon farming company that was no longer able to manage its farms and take care of its fish and an accounting firm was trying to manage it," wrote Susan Farquharson.

"Our members were concerned about animal welfare and bio-security."

Location of farms a worry

Farquharson said quick action by members of her association helped the receiver gain control over the "unfortunate situation."

Reached by CBC News, Kinsman said his report is a public document and he did not wish to say more.

But environmentalist Matthew Abbott of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick questions whether the three Gray sites are appropriate places to allow salmon farming.

Abbott said there were problems before in north Passamaquoddy Bay.

Sees a flushing problem

"The area isn't really flushing," said Abbott, the council's Fundy Baykeeper.

"There didn't really seem to be a way to stop someone from essentially restarting an operation in an area where we had good reason to expect there would be problems, and indeed they had the very problems we could have expected them to have. That was certainly a disappointment."

A spokesman for the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries said the three former Gray sites are not being used and will remain vacant until at least April of 2018.

The assets of Gray Group, including the company's leased farm sites in New Brunswick and in Newfoundland and Labrador, were later sold for $15 million to Marine Harvest, a company with extensive operations in Norway and Western Canada.

A spokesperson said the company is developing a business plan for operations in the Bay of Fundy.

CBC New Brunswick News March 20, 2017

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