This autumn, the Canadian government will introduce changes to the Fisheries Act. Oceana Canada has campaigned hard for the updated Act to include a mandate to help rebuild fish populations, which will restore ocean abundance and support sustainable fisheries. Now we need your help.
The Canadian government has launched the next phase of its Fisheries Act public consultation process. This is your chance to let the government know that rebuilding fish populations matters to Canadians. Visit www.letstalkfishhabitat.ca and fill out the survey. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and the questions dedicated to rebuilding plans are within the “Planning and Integrated Management” section.
Here’s what’s at stake. Canada has focused little effort on rebuilding overfished populations, many of which have been in a state of collapse for decades. Northern cod still lacks a rebuilding plan, 25 years after its devastating collapse due to overfishing
Canada’s marine fish populations have declined by 55 per cent since 1970. Currently, 26 commercial fish stocks are classified by the federal government as being in the “critical zone”, and therefore under Fisheries and Oceans Canada's policy require a rebuilding plan. Despite policy commitments, rebuilding plans are in place for only three of these stocks. This has to change.
To return our fisheries to abundance, we need rebuilding plans for every critical fish population – not just 11% of them. This falls well short of the global standard: the requirement to rebuild depleted fish populations is a central tenet of modern fisheries management around the world.
Recently, there have been positive signs of progress in Canada. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has become more transparent in how it manages our fisheries by releasing key data. The federal government has restored millions of dollars in funding for science, including for hiring 135 more scientists and science staff, and has committed to creating four more rebuilding plans by March 31, 2018.
These are positive changes. But to ensure the health of our fish populations, and to ensure the future of everyone who relies upon them, we need to change the Fisheries Act so that, like in the United States and other nations, it mandates the rebuilding of depleted fish populations.
Please add your voice and let the government know you support returning our oceans to abundance. Let’s give the fish that live in Canada’s oceans the kind of protection they need to thrive.