Oceana Canada: Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray’s failure to protect capelin risks the health of the ocean and the fisheries that depend on it - Oceana Canada

Oceana Canada: Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray’s failure to protect capelin risks the health of the ocean and the fisheries that depend on it

Press Release Date: June 3, 2022

Media contacts: Angela Pinzon, Pilot PMR, angela.pinzon@pilotpmr.com, 647.295.0517;

Lesley Wilmot, Oceana Canada, lwilmot@oceana.ca, 647-535-6326;

Ellie Langford, Only One ellie@only.one, 650-346-6952. Media assets are available here.


OTTAWA, June 3, 2022 — Today’s decision by Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray to continue overfishing capelin, a critically depleted forage fish in northeastern Newfoundland (NAFO Area 2J3KL), fails to follow Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)’s own policies and puts at risk wild fisheries and the communities that rely upon them. Oceana Canada has been calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to close the fishery to protect the stock, which has been critically depleted and overfished for more than 30 years.

DFO’s decision to leave the fishery open and maintain the harvest quota from last year at 14,533t ignores the best available science that shows the population is critically depleted. Continued overfishing is a short-sighted decision that undermines the long-term socio-economic value of the fishery and fails to protect the health and abundance of the ocean.

Minister Murray has committed to rebuilding depleted forage fish through this year’s decisions on the Atlantic herring and mackerel fisheries. Today’s decision on capelin fails to follow this precedent and knowingly continues overfishing a critically depleted population. Oceana Canada is calling on Minister Murray to reverse this decision immediately and rebuild capelin, which would improve the prospects of this and other crucial fisheries in northeastern Newfoundland in the long term, including cod.“The decision to keep the commercial capelin fishery open contradicts DFO’s policy to keep removals to the lowest possible level for highly depleted stocks and jeopardizes the coastal communities of Newfoundland and Labrador that depend on healthy wild fish populations,” said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Science Director, Oceana Canada.

Oceana Canada recently unveiled research on the health status of capelin in a new report, Capelin in Crisis: Urgent Action Needed to Rebuild Abundance, finding capelin to be critically depleted and overfished for more than 30 years.

Only One partnered with Oceana Canada on digital communications to raise awareness and grassroots support by calling for the end of overfishing of this forage fish, thanks to support from the Becht Family Charitable Trust. In a few short weeks, nearly 20,000 people have added their voices to help end the overfishing of capelin.

“Overfishing holds long-term risks for the stability of ocean ecosystems and local economies, and the people of Canada deserve to have a voice on this critical issue,” says Ellie Langford, Head of Communications at Only One. “Nearly 20,000 people stood up to demand a halt to commercial capelin fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, and together, we’re calling on DFO to reverse their decision and close the capelin fishery.”

Continued action on the rebuilding of important fish stocks like capelin is urgent and necessary. According to Oceana Canada’s latest Fishery Audit, less than one-third of Canada’s fisheries are healthy and the health status of more than a third remains uncertain, due to insufficient data.

Learn more about Oceana Canada’s campaign to rebuild ocean abundance and see the latest information on the health status of Canada’s fisheries at 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. Find out more at www.oceana.ca.

Only One is a digital advocacy hub for the ocean conservation movement. With a growing network of nearly 1M committed ocean activists worldwide and 10K monthly donors who give what they can to supporting cutting-edge ocean-based climate solutions, Only One works to scale the impact of the ocean conservation movement, driving immediate action alongside long-term change. Find out more at: only.one

The Becht Family Charitable Trust (BFCT) is a UK-based funder in the marine space. BFCT’s purpose is to protect and restore our planet’s biodiversity through marine conservation. The ocean space is chronically underfunded, but at the same time ocean-based ecosystems have an ability to recover much faster than land-based ecosystems, making oceans an untapped source of resilience against biodiversity loss and climate change. BFCT focusses on three key areas: (i) Highly or fully protected marine protected areas, (ii) Fighting overfishing and destructive fishing, and (iii)Coastal and marine ecosystems. Find out more on bfct.org or contact us here.