October is shaping up to be a big month for Canada’s fish, with new findings released by the Office of the Auditor General, and the future of Northern cod reviewed by The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. And the month is not over yet: in just two short weeks, Oceana Canada will convene leading fisheries scientists to help recover and protect Canada’s fisheries.
What have we learned this month? To start with, we know more about what we don’t know, which is an important first step. The Office of the Auditor General’s report on Canada’s fish stocks found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) “was missing key information needed to manage Canada’s fish stocks sustainably.”
This concern echoes Oceana Canada’s own findings, revealed in a science report released this summer: only 24 per cent of our marine fish populations can be considered healthy and the health of a whopping 45 per cent cannot be determined due to a lack of data.
Other key findings of the Auditor General’s report include highlighting that “there are no comprehensive plans available for 44 of Canada’s 154 major fish stocks. Of those that do exist, many have unclear objectives to measure how well the DFO is managing the stocks and are out of date or incomplete.”
One of the best examples of this failure to plan for the future of our fish is the state of Northern cod. Shockingly, 25 years after the collapse of Canada’s cod fishery there is still no rebuilding plan for Northern cod.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans are currently meeting to address the future of Northern cod in Canada. Oceana Canada’s own Josh Laughren and Robert Rangeley presented to the committee and called for five key recommendations including the development of a rebuilding plan based on science, improving transparency and reducing bycatch. The recommendations were well received; Oceana Canada will continue to advocate for these recommendations to be adopted and implemented.