OTTAWA—Oceans North is celebrating a new milestone in Canada’s approach to fisheries management that could help bring exhausted fish stocks back from the brink.
Last week, new regulations on the rebuilding of depleted fish populations were posted under Canada Gazette 2, marking the final stage before they come into force. Given that less than a third of Canada’s fish stocks are considered healthy—as well as the increased risks posed by climate change—the new rules are arriving at a crucial time for Canada’s fisheries.
“We know that decisions regarding fish quotas don’t always take the long-term health of the stock into account,” says Susanna Fuller, Vice-President of Operations and Projects at Oceans North. “The new rules should ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes as we have in the past and help put fisheries on the path towards rebuilding, providing more clarity and certainty for all involved.”
In 2019, the modernized Fisheries Act legally mandated the rebuilding of depleted fisheries. Now, these new regulations will set out for the first time what is required of fisheries rebuilding plans, including timelines and objectives as well as updated guidance for fisheries managers. The regulations will initially apply to a list of major stocks; more stocks will be added in the coming months.
The regulations are arriving on the heels of major decisions that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has made to protect dwindling fish populations in Atlantic Canada. “We’ve seen some difficult but necessary decisions being made for forage fish—Atlantic mackerel and Gulf of St. Lawrence herring in particular,” says Katie Schleit, Senior Fisheries Advisor at Oceans North. “By ensuring that the government takes action sooner to protect vulnerable fish populations, these regulations will hopefully prevent drastic measures in the future.”
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