Oceana audit finds that Canada is failing its marine fisheries

Oceana audit finds that Canada is failing its marine fisheries

Fishing boats in Newfoundland's port
Fishing boats in Newfoundland. Photo by Christopher Porter, Flickr.

Oceana Canada released its fifth annual Fishery Audit, a document that assesses the current state of Canada’s fisheries and fisheries management, tracks progress from 2017 to 2021 and provides recommendations to meet federal policy commitments to return wild fish populations to abundance.

According to the report, in the past five years, there have been positive changes in the way Canadian fisheries are managed. Notably, the audit found greater transparency, substantial new investments in science, new national standards for monitoring and a modernized Fisheries Act that makes rebuilding depleted fisheries the law.

However, the experts at Oceana also found problems that need to be addressed such as the lack of implementation of policies that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has already put in place.

“Year after year, Oceana Canada’s assessments reveal the government’s failure to significantly improve how Canada’s fisheries are managed. As a result, we haven’t seen measurable improvements in the health of wild fisheries,” the dossier reads. “Modernized laws, political commitments and much-needed investments are only as good as the government’s ability to successfully implement them, which, in the case of Canadian fisheries management, has demonstrably fallen short over the past half-decade.”

Based on a comprehensive body of research, which included peer-reviewed papers co-authored by Sea Around Us scientists, the experts at Oceana Canada report that there are strong declines in forage fish and that nearly one in five stocks are still critically depleted — whilst more than 80 per cent of them lack rebuilding plans. In addition to this, they note that two years after the Fisheries Act became law, the government has not created regulations specifying the requirements for rebuilding plans and to which stocks they will apply.

“Canadian fisheries management must emphasize rebuilding depleted fish populations to healthy levels, particularly if we want to maintain our place as a top fishing nation in the coming decades,” Daniel Pauly, the Sea Around Us principal investigator, told Oceana Canada in relation to the audit. “This means ensuring at least half of the unexploited population biomass is left in the water to reduce the risk of unintentional overfishing, maximize the economic benefits from fisheries and sustain functional food webs.”

To read the full report visit: https://www.fisheryaudit.ca/