Over the past few years, Canada has made efforts toward rebuilding and maintaining healthy fisheries by restoring funding, increasing transparency and passing new policies and a modernized Fisheries Act. This year on the science front, DFO developed some new reference points and harvest control rules. And last fall, the federal government announced $107.4 million over five years to assess and rebuild stocks.
These investments must now be translated to action, as the current pace of change is insufficient to meet the government’s own commitments.
Last year, Oceana Canada called on DFO to:
None of these priorities have been achieved. There was also no net change in the percentage of stocks with recent stock assessments or fishing mortality estimates in 2020. The number of index stocks with LRPs decreased. In addition, DFO’s Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat continues to take far too long to publish key information.
The financial strain for people in the fishing industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in funding commitments being rolled out by the government to help communities during these unprecedented times. The pandemic also undoubtedly contributed to delays in the implementation of sustainable fisheries management. However, the lack of long-term progress over the past four years reflects a systemic need for greater accountability, rigour and action in stewarding Canada’s fisheries.