Oceana Canada Applauds DFO’s Commitment to Rebuild Some Forage Fish, Atlantic Mackerel, but Asks Why Capelin is Still Overfished
Press Release Date: June 29, 2023
Ottawa, traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People– Yesterday, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) upheld its previous years decision of continuing the commercial and bait closure of Atlantic mackerel. Below is Oceana Canada’s response from fishery scientist, Rebecca Schijins:
“We applaud Canada’s Fisheries Minister Murray’s decision to support rebuilding Atlantic mackerel by maintaining the commercial fishing closures. This difficult but necessary approach follows decades of mismanagement and more recent efforts to prioritize restoring Atlantic Ocean ecosystems and the coastal communities that these forage fish support. As a next step, a high-quality rebuilding plan should be published, including measures aimed at improving fisheries monitoring, especially for recreational and bait fishing.
This decision follows the recommendations of science as well as the law and policy for fisheries management in Canada. Unfortunately, other forage fish have not been given this same approach, creating uncertainty and inconsistency for fisheries in Canada. The decision to leave the commercial capelin fishery open this year with no reduction in the quota contradicts DFO’s own policies as well as science recommendations. There has been significant delay in many fishing quota announcements this year and a lack of transparency in the reasoning behind these decisions.
Alarmingly, only 1/3 of Canada’s wild fisheries are healthy but DFO has the opportunity right now to reverse decades of overfishing and see the return of wild fish to the oceans off all three of Canada’s coasts. Reducing fishing pressure to the lowest possible level, including fisheries closures, while populations are in a critical state is in line with DFO’s own policies and the amended Fisheries Act. Research shows that rebuilding fish supports the long term health of coastal communities: for example rebuilding mackerel could lead to estimated benefits of $54 million.
Oceana Canada will continue to request clarification from DFO for why decisions for some forage fish follow science and policy to support their rebuilding, while others are still overfished.”
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.