` Oceana Fishery Audit 2020
monitor

Catch Monitoring Indicators
New Policy Could Mean Better Data

Knowing how many fish are being caught every year is crucial to making good decisions about how to manage fisheries and rebuild critically depleted stocks. Most of Canada’s marine stocks have some level of catch monitoring in place, through logbooks, at-sea monitoring, dockside monitoring or a combination of these tools. Each monitoring tool has a different purpose, and not all fisheries require 100 per cent coverage with each tool. Combined, monitoring programs should provide dependable and timely data to support sustainable fisheries management. Today it is difficult to determine what proportion of the catch is monitored and whether it includes bycatch (unintended catch). If DFO’s new Fishery Monitoring Policy is implemented in a timely and rigorous way, it can help fill these gaps.

Stocks with fisheries that have catch monitoring in place

Purpose: Help prevent overfishing, control bycatch and collect scientific information for stock assessments.

Some level of at-sea or electronic monitoring

2017
71.1%
2018
71.1%
2019
83.5%
2020

At-sea or electronic monitoring with 100% coverage

2017
21.1%
2018
21.1%
2019
21.6%
2020

Some level of mandatory logbooks

2017
82.5%
2018
83.0%
2019
96.4%
2020

Mandatory logbooks that record the entire catch

2017
21.6%
2018
26.8%
2019
27.3%
2020

catch

Some level of dockside monitoring

2017
74.2%
2018
75.8%
2019
87.1%
2020

Independent dockside monitoring of 100% of landings

2017
40.2%
2018
44.8%
2019
65.5%
2020

MACKEREL DATA MISSING

Atlantic mackerel in NAFO subareas 3+4 have been critically depleted since 2011. DFO committed to publishing a rebuilding plan for Atlantic mackerel in 2020 but lacks the data required to set appropriate catch limits and harvest strategies. That’s because until this year, bait fisheries have not been required to report catches and recreational catches continue to go unreported. Together, they are suspected to total thousands of tonnes a year of mackerel not included in the catch limit.

These are the kinds of gaps that must be addressed by implementing the Fishery Monitoring Policy.

data gap

In 2020 none of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plans Oceana Canada examined included specific and measurable catch monitoring objectives, despite the requirements of the new Fishery Monitoring Policy.

GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT:

In November 2019, DFO released a Fishery Monitoring Policy, providing long-overdue national standards that clearly lay out expectations for catch monitoring objectives, methods to determine the types of tools used and the level of monitoring required. If this policy is effectively implemented, it has the potential to close data gaps that have left too many fisheries to be managed in the dark. The policy is also necessary to ensure compliance with Canada’s new Fisheries Act — which now makes rebuilding fish populations the law — since rebuilding plans can only be as strong as the data that informs them. This marks an important step toward sustainably managing Canada’s fisheries. But to see an impact on the water, the federal government must act immediately to implement this policy.