Oceana Canada to DFO: 2023 Fishing Quota Decisions Must Mark the Turning Point in Rebuilding the Long-Term Health of Fisheries and Oceans
Despite significant investments over many years and a new law to rebuild depleted fish stocks, still only a fraction of Canada’s fisheries are considered healthy
Press Release Date: April 13, 2023
Ottawa, Traditional, Unceded Territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People – As the 2023 fishing season begins, Oceana Canada is urging Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to fulfill its mandate to manage Canada’s fisheries and oceans responsibly amid a global and national fisheries crisis by following the law, policy and science for all diminished fisheries.
“Overfishing has led to a largely avoidable fisheries crisis that has hurt communities and the health of a resilient ocean for decades. Now is the time to turn away from the short-term thinking that has created this crisis,” said Rebecca Schijns, Fishery Scientist at Oceana Canada. “Our elected officials’ actions must be consistent with the science, the policy and the regulations to prioritize the long-term value of our oceans by bringing fish back for food and income security for coastal communities, commercial fisheries and the health of the entire ocean ecosystem.”
For the last six years, Oceana Canada has audited DFO’s progress in using the best available science, monitoring, and management capabilities to restore abundance to our oceans. There has been no change to overall fisheries health, with only 1/3 of stocks considered healthy. Progress on many management indicators has continued to stagnate, resulting in depleted stocks, overfishing, a lack of robust data and insufficient efforts to recover depleted populations.
Leading marine conservation and fisheries experts, Indigenous and fishing industry leaders and policymakers from across the country came together last October to address these realities at an Oceana Canada-hosted science symposium. Based on six years of audits and hearing other expert opinions from the symposium, Oceana Canada is urging Fisheries and Oceans Canada to swiftly prioritize the following actions:
- Include all remaining fish stocks under the Fisheries Act rebuilding provisions;
- Meaningfully engage with Indigenous communities and organizations to mobilize Indigenous Knowledge Systems into fisheries decision-making.
- Integrate ecosystem-level impacts by prioritizing rebuilding depleted forage fish that other species rely on as prey and address vulnerabilities to climate change; and
- Improve fisheries monitoring by counting everything caught in a fishery, including all recreational and bait fishing.
“There is an urgent need to accelerate government action to bring Canada’s fish populations back to health,” said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Science Director at Oceana Canada. “This is the first major fishing season since the passage of both the Fisheries Act and its regulations, so all eyes should be on DFO to ensure decisions follow science advice and support building resilience for fisheries and the coastal communities that depend on marine life as well as supporting healthy oceans.”
Diverse, expert voices are joining Oceana Canada’s call on the government to make thorough, science-informed decisions ahead of the fishing season, and work to restore our fisheries. See what they have to say here.
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 ban single-use plastics, 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.