More than 100 applications have been approved for Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF) money, totalling more than $30 million in the first year since the $400-million program was launched by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Atlantic provinces in 2017.
Testing ropeless fishing gear, greenstick technology trolling equipment in the pelagic long-line fleet and innovation in the processing and aquaculture sectors were among the projects earmarked to receive approximately $573,000 in funding. This information was conveyed in a recent announcement on the Lunenburg waterfront by federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Keith Colwell.
The Coldwater Lobster Association will be conducting a pilot study on the effectiveness and practicality of ropeless fishing gear technology for the commercial lobster industry within LFA 34, partnering with several oceans technology companies to test and evaluate ropeless fishing gear, acoustic receivers and related technology.
If it can be fine-tuned to work in the fishery, ropeless gear could help reduce some risks to the endangered North Atlantic right whale population, as well as for other marine mammals. The total project cost is $326,509 with $261,207 in funding from the AFF.
Six fishing enterprises in the Nova Scotia Swordfishermen’s Association and licence holders in the pelagic longline fleet received just over $19,000 each in funding to purchase and install new greenstick trolling equipment on their vessels, allowing them to adopt more efficient tuna fishing practices.
The greenstick technology allows harvesters to reduce unwanted by-catch, maximize productivity of fishing practices and ensure higher quality of the product.
Members of the pelagic long-line fleet, which is made up of 77 licence holders, are authorized to fish for swordfish and other tunas (bigeye, yellowfin, albacore and skipjack tuna) within the Atlantic ocean waters off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. They’re authorized to fish for other tunas by using pelagic long-line gear, harpooning gear or by using trolling gear. Greenstick fishing is a type of trolling method.
Yarmouth-based IMO Foods Limited will be upgrading its seafood canning operations by acquiring and installing a Steriflow Thermal processing system to improve productivity and efficiency, as well as reduce energy consumption. In addition, this new technology will help meet evolving food safety requirements and help the company expand to international markets. The $390,000-project is being supported with $97,500 in funding from the AFF and $195,000 through ACOA.
Yarmouth County-based Eel Lake Oyster Limited will receive $99,904 in AFF funding towards the installation of an Oystek oyster grading system complete with elevator, separator and solar panels for producing power to run the grader for an oyster aquaculture site in Salt Bay. The new oyster grading technology can be used on a barge while still on the water, allowing for more streamlined operations and improved quality of product.
The AFF was launched just over a year ago as a way to help modernize the sector and encourage its long-term sustainability and growth. So far, the AFF has received more than 360 applications from proponents throughout Atlantic Canada, representing the commercial fisheries and aquaculture industry, Indigenous groups, universities and academia and industry associations and organizations.
The AFF is a seven-year program.
Eligible projects must focus on the following:
innovation to support research and development of new innovations that contribute to sustainability of the fish and seafood sector
create partnerships and networks that aim to promote and encourage innovations in the sector
infrastructure to adopt or adapt new technologies, processes or equipment to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the fish and seafood sector
fisheries and aquaculture industry-based partnerships with academia and institutions to enhance knowledge and understanding of the impacts of changing oceanographic conditions and sustainable harvesting technology.
The Atlantic Fisheries Fund is “a very unique vehicle to Atlantic Canada to help us ensure we’re actually pushing forward with innovation and building the industry,” Wilkinson said.