A new study sheds light on the state of global fish populations, stating that two thirds of fish stocks are declining. The research assessed 5,000 fisheries and found that only one third were being fished at levels that would allow for recovery. Unsustainable fishing practices are not just happening internationally in places we associate with deplorable environmental practices, they are all too common in Canadian waters too.
Canada is a nation built on fishing; we have the world’s longest coastline, dotted with coastal communities, and a fishing industry that connects this country with the sea. Canada is one of the world’s major fishing nations, catching 1.1 million metric tonnes of fish each year, or 1.6 per cent of the world’s wild fish catch by weight. But these high numbers obscure the fact that Canadian fisheries are performing well below their full potential.
In the 1950s, Canada was the seventh largest producer of wild fish by weight. Today, its ranking has plummeted to 20th. Less than half of Canada’s fish populations are deemed healthy, and many species, such as cod and other groundfish, have never been given a real chance to recover after serious overfishing in the 80s and 90s.
Fortunately, we know how to fix things: science-based fishery management which establishes sustainable catch limits, reduces bycatch and protects habitat. When implemented properly, these measures have been shown—internationally and here in Canada—to help fish species recover.
Oceana Canada campaigns for national policies that rebuild fisheries and return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health, including increasing transparency in fisheries management and making science-based decisions to recover our fisheries. Josh Laughren, Executive Director of Oceana Canada, says:
“This report highlights the urgency—and the benefits—of setting and enforcing science-based limits to the amount of fish we take out of the seas. Canada’s oceans can, if we allow them to recover, support more jobs, foster thriving coastal communities and provide a sustainable source of protein for a hungry world.”