Over the past decade most of Canadian Pacific hake was sold to Russia, but a ban on Canadian products into Russia has hit Canadian hake fishers and the groundfish trawling industry hard.
In July, to address this, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said it was allowing up to 54,928 Mt of Pacific hake to be processed into fishmeal during the 2015 fishing season, which, in theory, could translate to about 12,000 tons of fishmeal.
The exemption order, the second in nearly thirty years, will be revoked at the end of the current season.
Andrew Jackson, technical director with the IFFO, which follows and promotes use of aquaculture products including fishmeal worldwide, said it had been aware of the regulatory change.
“This measure [though] is much more relevant to the fisherman of that hake fishery, than the fishmeal market. It’s a question of what they do with the fish until they build up new markets and they’ve been given this outlet,” said Jackson. “But I’m sure they’ll be striving to make as little of it as possible into fishmeal.”
“DFO is permitting the use of offshore Pacific Hake for reduction purposes as an exceptional measure intended to provide interim support over a one year transition period for the hake industry to adjust and diversify, such that the industry will be better positioned to adapt to current and future market changes,” the department reported.
The temporary exception, which the British Columbia groundfish industry had been calling for, applies to section 31 of Canada’s federal Fisheries Act, which states that “no one shall catch, fish for, take buy, sell, possess or export any fish for the purposes of converting it into fish meal, manure, guano or fertilizer, or for the manufacture or conversion of the fish into oil, fish meal or manure or other fertilizing product, except under authority of the Minister.”
Fish permitted to be used by the temporary exception may come from several different pacific fishery management areas, the department said.
Additionally, all the fish caught still need to be monitored and sorted in an effort to continue sustainable fishery practices, the department said.
So far, less than 1% of the hake catch has found its way to the reduction facility, said Dan Bate, communications officer with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Pacific region.
As of September 22, the total catch for the Canadian Offshore hake fishery was about 30,000 Mt with about 67 Mt being processed for fish meal, he said. The fishery is allowed to catch 114,000 Mt in total this year.