FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 14, 2016
[Digby, Nova Scotia] – Marking a first for Nova Scotia, a trial commercial diver-caught scallop fishery has been approved by Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO), and is set to begin on July 16th, 2016. The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) has been working regularly with DFO and fishing industry partners in Nova Scotia over the past four years to help make this trial fishery a reality.
“We were seeing local restaurants selling diver-caught scallops, but they were sourcing them from Mexico. We realized that there was an incredible opportunity to have this product harvested in Nova Scotia, and have it available here and for export, as part of meeting the growing demand for traceable and sustainably harvested seafood.” says Justin Cantafio, Sustainable Fisheries Campaigner with the EAC.
“In Seachoice’s retail and supplier partnerships across Canada, we see a growing demand for sustainable seafood. Nova Scotia has an excellent opportunity to meet that increasing demand through smaller scale, but high value fisheries like these." says Colleen Turlo, the EAC's representative to SeaChoice, Canada's sustainable seafood program.
The trial fishery will take place in St. Mary’s Bay, and offers a new opportunity for commercial divers to extend their fishing season using a low-impact and selective fishing method to catch scallops outside of their commercial urchin diving season. This fishery will also contribute to sustainable livelihoods and economic development in the Digby region.
“This type of initiative is an excellent way of increasing the value of a fishery resource, without increasing the actual amount harvested.” says Cantafio. “We’ve been working with various value chain members, from processors to retailers, to ensure that there is a demand for this product, and the demand for diver-caught scallops has been so high that there are commitments to buying catches for several years, in advance.”
The pilot project will harvest 2.5 tonnes—approximately 5,500 pounds—with the season closing at the end of September. The quota to be used is from the existing allocation for the fishery, and will be fished by a local team of commercial diver fishermen. The concept for the fishery was also presented to the Inshore Scallop Advisory Committee, before final approval by DFO.
“Having been a resident of Nova Scotia for a number of years, I know the high quality of the scallops that grow in the Bay of Fundy, and I know that our customers would fully support a diver-caught product that was harvested in a manner that respected the premium quality of the seafood and the marine ecosystem from which they’re sourced.” says Dan Donovan, owner of Hooked Inc., a premium seafood retail and distribution company based in Toronto.
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Ecology Action Centre
For over a decade, the Ecology Action Centre’s Marine Program has engaged in several initiatives to grow awareness of sustainable seafood choices, including consumer education, developing procurement policies with retailers through our partnership in SeaChoice, engaging as a stakeholder in eco-certification processes, conducting and participating in assessments for various seafood ranking systems, helping establish SlowFish Canada, and co-founding and managing Off the Hook, Atlantic Canada’s first Community Supported Fishery (CSF). These initiatives have helped connect Nova Scotia’s small-scale fisheries and coastal communities to new and existing markets, and seek to maximize the value of the resource while providing consumers access to sustainable seafood with the assurance of knowing who caught their seafood, where it was caught, and how.
SeaChoice is Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program, comprised of three respected Canadian conservation organizations — David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Center, and Living Oceans Society. SeaChoice helps educate Canadians and assists companies and buyers to take an active role in supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture at all levels of the seafood supply chain.