SOURCE: Oceana Canada

February 24, 2017 16:05 ET

Fisheries Act update should include direction to recover Canada's fish populations, says new government report

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - February 24, 2017) - Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled its recommendations to the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to enhance the protection of fish and fish habitat and the management of Canadian fisheries under the Fisheries Act. One key recommendation is that Act include provisions for restoring and recovering fish populations.

"By amending the Fisheries Act to provide legal guidance to rebuild depleted fisheries, Minister LeBlanc has an historic opportunity to swiftly address one of our greatest challenges in managing Canada's oceans and create a positive legacy for generations to come," said Josh Laughren, Executive Director, Oceana Canada. "Many of our fisheries remain severely depleted from overfishing, and most are still awaiting rebuilding plans -- in some cases for decades. Canada's track record, and experience in countries around the world, shows that a legal mandate is critical to recovering fisheries."

The fishing industry is an important economic driver for Canada, with $6 billion in exports in 2015 alone, and hundreds of Canadian communities depending on it for their livelihood. However, less than a quarter of Canada's fish stocks can be shown to be healthy. A recent Auditor General report on fish stock sustainability in Canada found that of the 15 major fish stocks that are in critical condition and are being fished, 12 do not have rebuilding plans.

In a presentation to the Standing Committee earlier this month, the author of the Auditor General report, Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, said the following: "Continuing to fish stocks that are in critical condition without having a rebuilding plan in place increases the risk of the stock's potential collapse. Rebuilding plans are necessary."

Leading fishing nations such as the United States and countries in the European Union are successfully tackling overfishing by legally requiring rebuilding plans when fish populations decline. In the U.S. alone, this requirement has led to a record number of 39 fish stocks being rebuilt, which has kept overfishing at an all-time low.

"We look forward to working with the Minister, industry, communities and Indigenous Peoples to develop a renewed Fisheries Act that provides legal recognition of the need to rebuild our fish populations, for the benefit all who rely on our oceans, for generations to come," said Laughren.

For more information on Oceana Canada's recommendation on the Fisheries Act, please visit oceana.ca/FisheriesAct.

About Oceana Canada

Oceana Canada was established in 2015 as an independent charity and is part of the largest international group focused solely on ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its land mass. Oceana Canada believes that we have an obligation to our country, and the world, to manage our natural resources responsibly and provide a sustainable source of protein for a growing world.

Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers and government to return Canada's formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada's oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.ca.

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