Oceana Canada Celebrates Government Release of Regulations that Give Canada the Legal Backing to Rebuild Depleted Fisheries
Press Release Date: April 14, 2022
OTTAWA — Today, Oceana Canada applauds the Canadian government’s release of new rebuilding regulations under the Fisheries Act. These could mark a major turning point in the abundance of Canada’s wild fish, of which less than 1/3 are currently considered healthy. Now, in addition to significant government commitments and investments, Canada has the legal tools it needs to ensure critically depleted populations get the rebuilding plans needed to help return abundance to Canada’s oceans.
“With the release of these regulations, the government has a legal requirement to rebuild our fish populations to support sustainable and prosperous fisheries, healthy coastal communities, and a more resilient, bountiful ocean. Wild fisheries have been a cultural and economic mainstay for coastal communities – Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. If we rebuild them, we can continue to rely on this abundance for years to come,” said Josh Laughren, Executive Director, Oceana Canada.
As always, success depends on how well the regulations are implemented. The government must now create and implement rebuilding plans designed to bring depleted populations out of the “critical zone.” In particular, it must set a target for stock rebuilding, a timeline by which it will be achieved and the actions that will be required. The regulations add new levels of transparency by requiring the Minister to publish any decision to extend timelines to create a plan, and any decision not to set a timeline for meeting rebuilding objectives. Significantly, any fishing allowed while a plan is being developed must be consistent with growing the stock out of the critical zone.
In 2019, the government amended the Fisheries Act to restore protections lost under previous governments and created new provisions requiring rebuilding plans for depleted fish stocks. The regulations released today outline the elements required in a rebuilding plan and to which fish stocks they apply. Thirty stocks are listed in the regulations, including 16 in the critical zone. The government now has 24 months to create rebuilding plans for them, with an additional 12 months if required. Oceana is calling on the Minister to list all remaining stocks as quickly as possible, so the law applies equally to all fish populations.
”Many stocks have been severely depleted and in need of rebuilding for years or even decades. The government has published comprehensive guidance on how rebuilding plans should be written. Now that the first set of stocks has been listed under the regulations, we look forward to the development of clear, strong rebuilding plans that put these fish populations on the path to renewed abundance,” added Laughren.
In the past few months, Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray has taken strong action to stop the overfishing of critically depleted forage fish by reducing the quota of Pacific herring and closing commercial and bait fishing on Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic herring. The new regulations build on these essential decisions to provide renewed hope for an abundant ocean that can sustain communities and help feed the world in perpetuity. To learn more about the state of Canada’s fisheries visit FisheryAudit.ca.
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future.