Proposed Fisheries Act Regulations will Fail to Rebuild Fish Stocks - Oceana Canada

Proposed Fisheries Act Regulations will Fail to Rebuild Fish Stocks

Press Release Date: January 13, 2021

Oceana Canada urges Fisheries and Oceans Canada to require targets and timelines to build fish populations back to healthy levels for all stocks in the critical zone.

January 13, 2021, Ottawa, ON — In 2019 the federal government responded to Canada’s decades-long fishery crisis with amendments to the Fisheries Act that require rebuilding plans for depleted commercial fish stocks. The goal of fisheries management, as set in international agreements and in federal policy, is to bring these populations back to healthy levels. On January 2, 2021, draft regulations were published specifying the Act’s requirements for rebuilding plans and listing the first batch of stocks to which they will apply. As is, these regulations will fail to reverse the ongoing decline in stock health or restore abundance to our fisheries for the long-term benefit of Canada’s fisheries and all who rely on them. However, these gaps can be fixed. 

To unlock Canada’s potential for abundant oceans that benefit the planet and the future of coastal communities, Oceana Canada recommends the following improvements:

• Speed up the process of including all critically depleted stocks; 

• Set a clear target to rebuild stocks to a healthy level;

• Include maximum timelines, informed by best available science, for all targets and milestones. Without timelines, there will be no urgency to rebuild.

Although government policy directs Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to rebuild stocks that are in or approaching the critical zone, DFO has not been delivering on this requirement, as illustrated in Oceana Canada’s annual Fishery Audit. It is abundantly clear that stronger legal tools are needed. 

The amended Fisheries Act and new rebuilding regulations are an extraordinary opportunity to fix this gap and require strong rebuilding plans that give depleted fish stocks a chance to rebound. That is why Oceana Canada is urging Fisheries and Oceans Canada to improve its proposed regulations so that Canada can finally chart a path toward abundant oceans and more lucrative fishery opportunities.

Consumers around the world are demanding sustainably sourced fish. If Canada seriously wants our blue economy to be a big part of Canada’s commitment to a green economic recovery, we must keep up with global best practices. Without changes, the draft regulations that are now open for public comment would squander this opportunity, depriving Canada of the economic and environmental benefits that come with rebuilt fish populations. 

Rebuilding our oceans and our fisheries to abundance is possible. Strong Fisheries Act regulations is key to creating this future. 

To arrange an interview please contact: Tammy Thorne, Communications Manager, Oceana Canada, 437.247.0954,

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.