From protecting marine habitat to stopping the shark fin trade and rebuilding abundant fish populations, our victories represent a new hope for the world's oceans.
Canada Strengthens Emergency Measures to Protect Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales
Amid a crisis facing critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, Oceana and its allies successfully campaigned for the Canadian government to strengthen its emergency measures to protect this species from deadly ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear. Since these measures were strengthened over the last three years, there have been no known right whale deaths in Canadian waters. Prior to these improvements, 21 right whales had been killed in Canadian waters between 2017 and 2019. These strengthened measures include increasing vessel slowdown zones, ensuring fishery closures can be triggered by any sighting, including acoustic detections, and starting the fishing season earlier so that there is less overlap with the time right whales are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Oceana is now campaigning to make protection measures for right whales permanent along the East Coast of Canada and the United States to give these whales the best chance of survival.
Canadian Government Bans Six Categories of Single-Use Plastics
Ina huge win for the health of our oceans, Canada introduced a national ban on six categories of single-use plastics. The ban will gradually eliminate the Canadian production and export of plastic bags, cutlery, stir sticks, six-pack rings, straws and some takeout containers. The ban also ends the export of banned plastics by 2025, making Canada the second country ever to do so. The final ban also closes technical loopholes from its previous draft that would have allowed more durable single-use plastic options to replace items of common use, such as cutlery and checkout bags. This is a meaningful contribution to Canada’s commitment to ban harmful single-use plastics and hold companies responsible for doing their part to reduce plastic waste. The announcement also positions Canada as a global leader in efforts to reduce single-use plastics.
Canadian Government Sets Legally Binding Requirements to Rebuild Depleted Fish Stocks
In a major turning point for the future abundance of Canada’s wild fish, the federal government released new regulations that legally require depleted fish populations to be rebuilt. These regulations fall under the Fisheries Act, which Oceana Canada successfully campaigned to amend in 2019. Oceana Canada and its allies advocated for robust regulations to guide the recovery of Canada’s depleted fisheries, of which less than one-third are considered healthy. The regulations set requirements that are needed in rebuilding plans— that a target must be set to rebuild a stock, a timeline by which it will be achieved and what actions are required to make this change happen. Legally requiring the rebuilding of fisheries means Canada will be better able to prioritize the health of the ocean and the long-term viability fisheries that are essential for coastal communities.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Closes Two Critically Depleted Fisheries
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) closed the commercial and bait fisheries for two critically depleted species: Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring. Oceana Canada advocated for fishery rebuilding measures to be implemented and called for the closure of both fisheries. Atlantic mackerel and Southern Gulf spring herring play a crucial role in the Northwest Atlantic ecosystem and feed many other species, including whales, seabirds, and commercially important stocks such as cod and tuna. DFO’s decision – a difficult but necessary measure – contributes to the conservation of these forage fish and the long-term prosperity of Canada’s fisheries.
Banc-des-Américains, a submarine bank off of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, designated as a Marine Protected Area
The Government of Canada established a 1,000 square kilometer Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence called the Banc-des-Américains. This new MPA protects one of Canada’s most diverse and productive marine areas. In 2017, Oceana Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada partnered to conduct an expedition in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including the Banc-des-Américains. The MPA conserves habitat important for many species, including habitat-forming corals and sponges, forage fishes like capelin and herring and commercially important species, such as crab and shrimp and the iconic and highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.
Canadian government bans industrial activity in marine protected areas
Canada adopted new standards that ban industrial activities such as oil and gas, mining and destructive bottom-contact fishing activity in newly created Marine Protected Areas, bringing Canada in line with international best practices. In the past few years, Canada has protected more of its ocean, but within these areas, industrial activities, including oil and gas, were still permitted. Oceana Canada called on the government to implement stronger protection measures. The new standards help protect fragile habitats that provide nursery, spawning and feeding areas for marine wildlife from harmful practices.
Shark fin trade banned in Canada
Importing and exporting shark fins is now banned in Canada. The practice of shark finning has been illegal in Canadian waters for years; however, Canada was the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia. A grassroots effort by Oceana Canada pushed for the passage of Bill S-238, to ban the importation and exportation of shark fins. This effort resulted in more than 300,000 petition signatures and thousands of emails and phone calls being made to Members of Parliament calling on them to protect sharks. This public support and campaigning by Oceana Canada and other groups led to Bill S-238 being incorporated into Canada’s new Fisheries Act which passed into law on June 18, 2019.
Modernized Fisheries Act an historic victory for fisheries rebuilding
After four years of campaigning by Oceana Canada and its allies, a modernized Fisheries Act became law, setting the stage for rebuilding ocean abundance. This new legislation is an historic change in how Canada manages its fisheries: for the first time since the Fisheries Act was enacted in 1868, the government now must manage fish populations sustainably and put in place plans to help those that are depleted rebuild back to healthy levels. Rebuilding means more fish which could support more jobs and all of the social, cultural and economic benefits that come with healthy oceans full of life.