Oceana indicated that of the 26 critically depleted populations, only three have rebuilding plans in place. (Photo: OCEANA)
Oceana accuses Govt of not meeting commitments to rebuild fisheries
Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 01:50 (GMT + 9)
Oceana Canada has accused the federal Government of not meeting its commitments to sustainably manage and restore Canada’s fish populations, resulting in a less resilient and secure seafood industry.
In its latest Fishery Audit report, the ocean advocacy organization reveals that recent investments made in federal fisheries science capacity have not yet yielded measurable change in fisheries management or stock health, and the organization is calling on the government to deliver on its commitments.
“The government is falling behind on commitments, including the development of rebuilding plans, which threatens the long-term health of the industry,” said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Oceana Canada’s director of science.
“This is a crucial time for oceans and fisheries. Rebuilding abundance in our fisheries will make them more resilient to climate change and other cumulative environmental changes, so they can continue to be a sustainable source of protein and support the livelihoods of those who rely on them,” Dr Rangeley stated.
The report states that only 34 per cent of Canada’s fish stocks are known to be healthy, that over 13 per cent of stocks, including the iconic Northern cod, are critically depleted, requiring immediate rebuilding actions.
Of the 26 critically depleted stocks, only three have rebuilding plans in place; all three plans do not include the recommended content based on global best practices, such as targets and timelines for recovery.
In addition, more than 37 per cent of Canada’s most important fisheries lack adequate data to assess their status.
► Photo: Oceana Canada Fishery Audit
“It takes time for fish populations to rebuild, so stock health will change slightly each year. However, with management changes we expect to see more healthy stocks, fewer critical stocks, and fewer stocks with insufficient information,” said Rangeley.
The scientist expressed expectations to see improvements in the metrics that assess how well the government is implementing policy and meeting commitments, such as completing rebuilding plans for critical stocks.
Rangeley adds that if the federal government keeps its commitments, several fisheries management metrics would improve dramatically, including an over 40 per cent increase in the number of critically depleted stocks with rebuilding plans.
“Putting rebuilding plans in place to allow overfished stocks to recover has been proven to deliver results,” stressed Rangeley. “In the US, rebuilding plans became mandatory 20 years ago and 43 stocks have recovered generating an average of 50 per cent more revenue than when they were overfished,” the scientist stated.
Oceana’s 2018 Fishery Audit outlines key recommendations to the government that will support better management of Canada’s fisheries, including passing and implementing a new Fisheries Act, completing rebuilding plans, filling in data gaps and finalizing the Fishery Monitoring Policy.