1. The lobster monopoly

Paul Withers, reporting for the CBC, gets into the details of Clearwater Seafood’s monopoly of the entire offshore lobster fishery, and into its apparent monopoly of exemptions to fishing regulations:

… a CBC News investigation reveals the company is poised to achieve a long-sought change to a fisheries rule for its offshore lobster monopoly.

The department is amending a decades-old Atlantic Fisheries Regulations requirement that gear must be tended within 72 hours.

It’s a standard that many inshore boats and Clearwater, with its single vessel hauling thousands of traps, do not meet.

In its most recent management plan for the Clearwater offshore lobster fishery, the department said it will “provide for flexibility … where scientific studies have shown that the conservation objectives of a 72-hour maximum can be achieved through other means.”

Clearwater’s effort to get the regulation changed is documented in reports filed by the Marine Stewardship Council, which has certified the offshore lobster fishery as environmentally sustainable since 2010.

But the study has not been released, and that angers Shannon Arnold of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax. She said she’s been asking DFO for it for two years.

“This company at the moment has exclusive access to a big swatch of ocean. They have a privilege to fish there and therefore they have accountability to the public,” Arnold said. “And any of the science and that sort of thing that is coming out of that fishery should be publicly available.

Who is the Marine Stewardship Council? Interestingly, Wikipedia has put a warning on its entry for the group, noting that “a major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject.”

Back in 2011, Guardian reporter Lewis Smith wrote that “The body which certifies that fish have been caught sustainably [the Marine Stewardship Council] has been accused of ‘duping’ consumers by giving its eco-label to fisheries where stocks are tumbling.”:

Chris Pincetich, a marine biologist with the Turtle Island Restoration Network, said: “The MSC has rushed to accept applications from hundreds of fisheries around the globe in order to grow their business and network. Many of those are actually viewed by scientists as unsustainable. They should really take a closer look before they even engage with those fisheries.”

Two years later, in 2013, a consortium of 11 researchers published A review of formal objections to Marine Stewardship Council fisheries certifications, a highly critical look at the organization, reported Science Daily:

To gauge the viability of MSC’s labeling program, the researchers examined 19 formal objections — raised primarily by environmental groups and amounting to one-third, by weight, of all MSC-certified seafood — to certifications MSC has granted to fisheries for Chilean sea bass, Antarctic krill, and others. Objections are heard by an independent adjudicator appointed by MSC. In all but one of these 19 cases, the certification was upheld.

In the Biological Conservation analysis, the researchers sought to determine whether these fisheries, in fact, met the MSC’s principles for certification.

The MSC uses three major principles that third-party certifiers interpret in determining whether a fishery is “sustainable” and may use the MSC label: sustainability of the target fish stock; low impacts on the ecosystem; and effective management. However, the researchers found many of these fisheries — representing 35 per cent of eco-labeled seafood — did not meet MSC standards.

For instance, the longline fishery for swordfish in Canada appears to violate the “low impacts on the ecosystem” principle. This fishery has high levels of bycatch — sea life accidentally caught in pursuit of other fish. The targeted catch of 20,000 swordfish per year results in bycatch of approximately 100,000 sharks as well as 1,200 endangered loggerhead and 170 critically endangered leatherback turtles.

“The MSC’s narrow definition of sustainability is out of step with the general public perception of what that term means,” said Claire Christian, one of the study’s co-authors and a policy analyst at the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. “When the MSC labels a swordfish fishery that catches more sharks than swordfish ‘sustainable,’ it’s time to re-evaluate its standards.”

2. The asphalt monopoly

Some unknown (to me) person out there in the public filed a Freedom of Information request asking for details about asphalt contracts.

The results are predictable: Dexter Construction has a near-monopoly on provincial asphalt jobs. Last year, for example, Dexter was awarded 76 jobs worth $93.9 million, while the most active competitor, S.W. Weeks of New Glasgow, landed just 12 jobs worth $14.2 million.

3. Ferry service extended

Halifax council yesterday voted to extend the increases in the Alderney ferry service, at a cost of $550,000. This is dubbed a one-year “pilot project” to see if the increases in ridership that came during the Macdonald Bridge reconstruction project are maintained.

4. Cultural hub

As I reported in January:

Last year, the province hired Lord Consulting, a Toronto firm that specializes in planning for museums, to conduct a feasibility study for a new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to be located either in a stand-alone building on the waterfront or “co-located” with NSCAD. Lord recommended the latter option.

That recommendation led to yesterday’s announcement from the province:

Planning will begin this spring for a proposed cultural hub on the Halifax Waterfront which will include a new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University.

“I am pleased to announce that we are working collaboratively with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, NSCAD and the Waterfront Development Corporation to develop a business case for a new cultural hub which will include a provincial art gallery, Nova Scotia Arts and Design university, and an exciting new public space on the Halifax Waterfront,” said Leo Glavine, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

“Nova Scotia is fortunate to have one of the country’s best provincial art collections. A new cultural hub will serve as a dynamic and iconic new space for the gallery, while inspiring future artists through education and programming, and serving as a place for Nova Scotians and visitors alike to gather and be inspired for generations to come.”

Dynamic and iconic, eh? Sounds dangerous. If we’ve learned anything by now it’s that when they start flinging around bullshit terms we should be very afraid.

“The Halifax waterfront” is a rather vague geographic description. It could mean anything from HalTerm to Africville Park…

… but why do I have this suspicion that the ultimate goal is to lease space from Queen’s Marque?

5. Good Friday

“Whether you work or not, you will be paid for Good Friday 30 March, if you qualify,” explains Judy Haiven:

To qualify for a paid holiday on Good Friday you need to
1. be “entitled to receive pay” for 15 of the last 30 calendar days
2. have worked the last scheduled day or shift before Good Friday and the first scheduled  shift after the holiday.

If your employer tells you not to work on the day before, or the day after Good Friday, you should still get paid.

If Good Friday falls on your day off, and you qualify – you are entitled to another day off with pay.

There’s a more detailed explanation at the link.

The Good Friday holiday confuses me. I grew up in Catholic and went to Catholic school. Of course, we’d go to church in the evening; by my young eyes it was one of the coolest church days because they stripped all the decoration out of the place — no altar coverings, no banners on the wall, no lights, even, and we had to squint to see in the candlelight. It was totally Goth. The idea was that we were mourning the actual death of Christ, and then on Easter Sunday the whole place would explode with colour and decoration and celebration.

But Good Friday was never a holiday. Like every other day, I had to deliver my newspapers, and Dad had to go to work. It was a school day, and regular after-school activities like track practice and whatnot continued as normal.

So I was surprised when I moved to Halifax and found the whole town shut down on Good Friday, even for nonbelievers. My first year here, I met with a group of academic friends, themselves new to town, for beers at Freeman’s, and the server made us buy a pizza, I guess the idea being that we’d better contemplate the sacrifice of the Saviour if we were eating pepperoni. The following year, I stopped by my regular tavern on Good Friday, took my usual stool at the bar, and ordered a beer; the barkeep placed a plate with a half-eaten hamburger in front of me — “in case the liquor inspector comes in,” he explained. But wouldn’t the liquor inspector have the day off? I wondered.

They did away with the weird liquor rules a few years ago, but Good Friday is still a stat holiday. Anything for a day off, I guess. I’m not complaining. I’m going to take the day off myself, and contemplate my navel.


No public meetings.

On campus



Building Belonging: Racism in Institutions of Higher Education (Thursday, 11am, Room 302, Student Union Building) — Kevin Hewitt, Isaac Saney, and Barbara Hamilton-Hinch will “lead a knowledge and reflection circle as an opportunity to discuss racism as it pertains to teaching and learning.”

Improving Health Through Better Sleep (Thursday, 12pm, Room C523, Collaborative Health Education Building) — sleep therapist Kathy MacPherson will speak about the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. Bring Your Own Pillow.

Einstein’s Ripples: Listening to the Violent Universe with Waves of Gravity(Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Sanjeev Seahra from the University of New Brunswick will speak about a bunch of astronomy stuff no one at the Examiner can understand.

Cuba 2018 and Beyond: New Challenges, Revolutionary Continuity (Thursday, 7pm, Room 1108, Marion McCain Building) — from the event listing:

Juan Carlos Rodriguez Diaz, elected member of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, professor of history, and historian of the City of Pinar del Rio, will talk about elections and democracy in Cuba, and the passing of the revolutionary torch from the historic generation that made the Cuban Revolution to the new generations born during and within the revolution.​

Linda Pannozzo.

Beyond Environmentalism: Why Saving the Planet Means Forgetting What You Assume to be True (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Examiner contributor Linda Pannozzo will speak.


Drums and Organs, Or, the Modern Frankenstein (Friday, 7:30pm, Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — written by Gillian Clark and directed by Roberta Barker. $15/$10. Matinee Saturday at 2pm.

King’s College

Unmaking People: The Politics of Negation from Frankenstein to Westworld (Thursday, 7pm, Alumni Hall) — Despina Kakoudaki from American University, Washington, DC, author of Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People, will talk about “the idea and treatment of the artificial person in a human world.” Bring Your Own Robot.

In the harbour

5am: Hangzhou Bay Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
6:30am: Malleco, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
6:45am: Algoma Dartmouth, oil tanker, moves from Anchorage to Pier 34
7am: Pantonio, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
7:15am: Glorious Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
8am: Damia Desgagnes, asphalt tanker, sails from Pier 27 for sea
9am: Kommandor Iona, research vessel, arrives at Pier 9 from Hull, Great Britain
9am: Ferbec, bulker, sails from Pier 9 for sea
11am: Pantonio, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Patroclus, oil tanker, sails from anchorage for sea
3pm: Hangzhou Bay Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4:30pm: Glorious Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Quebec City


We’re recording Examineradio today.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. I’m so glad someone brought up climate change in regards to the stupidity of locating anything right next to the harbour. And no, if you do look 50-100 years in the future, it’s not a place to locate anything. The rising sea level won’t be minor and won’t be just a few feet (or meters as we are in Canada) that we can shrug off. With everything that has happened so far, the biggest comments from scientists is that it is happening quicker and worse than first thought and it will continue as such since we in Canada do not seem to have a plan to address it anytime soon. (signing agreements while changing nothing or investing more in the past with fossil fuels, does not count.) Scary indeed and the least we can do, if we need to move the AGNS (why?) is to have a plan grounded in the reality of the changing water levels we will experience here.

  2. Pleased to see the ferry was extended.

    I would also like to see serious consideration to extend it to Eastern Passage, Bedford and around the Basin to HRM plus Burnside in place of oddball notions about commuter rail to Windsor Junction.

  3. On the AGNS relocation, it doesn’t appear that staying put and and investing in the current facilities was even examined. Not sure how the public is supposed to know whether this recommendation is a good one when you don’t have at least that option to consider. Maybe it is “obvious” that staying put isn’t a good option, if so, I’d expect the report to show me that.

    This government seems to approach every decision with the solution in mind, and dutiful consultants are more than willing to put it to paper.

    Oh and from the Executive Summary ” NSCAD, as a principal centre for research and higher learning in visual arts and culture in North America, “; I guess NSCAD is WORLD CLASS!

    1. I believe the criteria for the report was “we want to move. Go justify it”. I believe that investing in the current AGNS location would be a much better long term investment.

  4. Maybe the reason why Good Friday is a holiday is so that people could travel to go attend the ceremony back home with their family. In some places you get the Monday off too, even though there’s no particular religious observance on that day. The day off would be an opportunity to travel back home after Sunday’s events.

    Back in the “bad old days” there were, depending on where and when specifically, people in Europe had 52 Sundays off (that meant nearly everyone), 30-50 rest days (which were enforced and organized by the Church in most cases, but weren’t religious otherwise) and 30-50 minor religious holidays. All of the rehashed pagan festivals were multi-day events, and it was normal to take a week or so off to go drink and be merry with your extended family whenever someone got married or died.

    In the early part of the 20th century, rising productivity lead many to believe that the downward trend in working hours from the peaks of the 19th century (which probably was the worst century to be alive in, at least for poor city dwellers) would continue and we’d all be working 10-20 hours a week. Communists in Russia made similar claims (although this would only happen after the Rapture the defeat of capitalism), which mirrored their capitalist counterparts who made the same sort of claims, swapping in “the future” for the defeat of capitalism. Too bad it hasn’t happened – although what most people would do with their time rather than work is beyond me – I’d be miserable without a 40 hour workweek even if I got paid no matter what.

  5. Regarding the lobster monopoly… several weeks ago the CBS Network co reed a story originating at Dalhousie. As far as I have seen no one has covered it in Nova Scotia where it has a special relevance

    “2048. That’s when the world’s oceans will be empty of fish, predicts an international team of ecologists and economists. The cause: the disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. The study by Boris Worm, PhD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, — with colleagues in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, and Panama — was an effort to understand what this loss of ocean species might mean to the world.

    The researchers analyzed several different kinds of data. Even to these ecology-minded scientists, the results were an unpleasant surprise. “I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are — beyond anything we suspected,” Worm says in a news release.
    “This isn’t predicted to happen. This is happening now,” study researcher Nicola Beaumont, PhD, of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, U.K., says in a news release.

    “If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to sustain our lives at all,” Beaumont adds.

    Already, 29% of edible fish and seafood species have declined by 90% — a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries.

  6. Ok, first of all with respect to the co-construction of an art gallery-NSCAD site, has nobody been paying attention to climate change?? I’m sorry but it is absolutely idiotic on a massive sale to contemplate such extensive public infrastructure in a zone most vulnerable to effects of sea level rise. For all that is holy stop this idiocy now!
    Secondly, nobody is talking about the fate of the gallery’s current building which in and of itself is a work of art. I have asked and the response is crickets. The building was designed as a showpiece Dominion Building in the 1860’s by David Stirling and is a magnificent example of ornate architecture built from Nova Scotia sandstone. Most impressive is the statue of Britanica over the main entrance on Ondaatje Square.
    Given all the experiences around here, I am concluding that one of the robber barons …er developers has great plans for a McBuilding redevelopment to add more high priced class A office space in a market already over supplied.
    Meanwhile in 50 years or so we can expect a massive public fundraising campaign to save the Cultural Hub which is getting flooded by every storm surge in the Harbour.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Dartmouth Oldie. While reading the article I was thinking…what will happen to the current beautiful AGNS??? Will some developer buy it and tear it down???

      Have the mayor and council lost their minds. If this madness proceeds, they will be screaming and moving precious paintings every time we have a storm surge.

      Follow the money.

    2. Well we have pretty good predictions on how much the sea level will rise + how much the land is subsiding + what storm surges are and will be. It’s just a matter of making sure you don’t put any critical infrastructure below this point. We should of course be planning for climate change, but that doesn’t mean, “never build anything on the waterfront”, it just means “account for climate change in your design”.

      And yeah, hopefully lots of thought goes into what happens with the existing AGNS building (and the existing NSCAD Granville campus)! These are amazing buildings and deserve thoughtful repurposing.

    1. I’ve been thinking that Salter Block is the proposed stadium site. Could be wrong about that, of course, but I suspect that it will be somewhere downtown, and there aren’t a lot of large enough spots. Maybe Cogswell.

    1. How do you know that? It’s not in the announcement, and the CBC report says the next step is “A tender will be issued in the coming weeks to develop a detailed proposal that will consider where exactly the cultural hub should be located, how much it will cost, and look at issues like parking, according to Culture Minister Leo Glavine.”

      1. The CBC reports implies but doesn’t confirm Salter Block:

        “A co-location facility and feasibility study completed by Lord Cultural Resources indicates the two institutions are contemplating a joint facility on the Salter block of the waterfront. The report is strongly positive about that prospect.

        “It is an opportunity to transform a parking lot on the waterfront of Halifax into a dynamic destination for creative innovation and contribute to the profound transformational changes remaking the city,” reads the report.”

        So maybe they haven’t finalized that location, but institutional buildings would have specific requirements that would need to be considered from the beginning. Planning for that kind of facility isn’t as simple as leasing office space in an existing building.

        1. In addition to this, reports on the exec level planning meetings mention that they were between NSCAD, AGNS, and WDCL. No mention of Armour Group, and I’m not sure WDCL would be involved if it was a leasing situation.

          Plus (if we’re being cynical), leasing in Queen’s Marque would take away all the fun of getting to fundraise and develop a design for a shiny new building.

  7. Those Dexter numbers really give some context to the decision to re-route the proposed Burnside highway to avoid Dexter-owned lands.