May 09, 2005 10:31 ET

WWF-Canada: Good talk on fisheries issues, now let's see some action

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, World News Editor ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR--(CCNMatthews - May 9, 2005) - Some progress on protecting fish stocks has been made at the Conference on The Governance of High Seas Fisheries and the UN Fish Agreement - Moving from Words to Action which was hosted by the Canadian government in St. John's last week. Designed to develop an Action Plan for the Governance of High Seas Fisheries, this bold initiative by the Canadian Government was attended by over forty countries from around the globe.

"Prime Minister Paul Martin and Federal Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan have shown strong leadership in bringing together representatives from fishing nations to try and achieve solutions to the global fisheries crisis," said Josh Laughren, Director, Marine Conservation, World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada). "We all know that if global fish stocks are to be restored, including those on the Grand Banks, it is going to take the efforts of all nations involved. This problem can not be solved by the actions of countries working alone, but neither can it be solved without Canada doing its part first."

Ultimately the conference failed to develop comprehensive targets and timelines to help recover the world's oceans.

The conference did produce some positive outcomes including the following:
· A commitment by all countries to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU)
· Agreeing to strengthen efforts to monitor, control and conduct surveillance of fishing activities
· Agreement to pressure nations to ratify the UN Fish Stocks Agreement that would ensure that migratory and straddling stocks are managed sustainably
· Agreement on the need to reduce capacity, so that too many boats are not chasing too few fish

"We have heard lots of positive words this week, but the real test is whether they result in real change on the water," continued Laughren. "All countries, including our own, agreed that fisheries and marine ecosystems are in steep decline and in need of immediate action. While we are glad that nations are talking, important action must be taken to restore our fisheries and ocean ecosystems which can't wait much longer if recovery is to take place."

Canada, including government and industry, must lead the way by committing to targets and timelines to eliminate the greatest threats to recovery: illegal fishing, bycatch and habitat loss. To facilitate this, WWF has embarked on an ambitious international program that will contribute to the recovery of marine ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. WWF will continue to monitor developments achieved in this conference and work with stakeholders and local communities to help achieve these recovery goals.

The Canadian government set an important example for other nations to follow at the outset of the conference when $20 million in funding was announced to fight overfishing and improve fisheries governance.

"We propose committing some of this new investment to identifying and protecting sensitive habitat, estimating the effect of bycatch on stock recovery efforts, and providing incentives for changing fisheries practices to a more sustainable harvest," concluded Laughren. "This would demonstrate important leadership to the international fishing community and show that Canada is putting words into action."
/For further information: Josh Laughren, Director, Marine Conservation Program, World Wildlife Fund Canada
Cell # 416-577-3131

Contact Information

  • Kyle Ferguson, Manager, Communications, World Wildlife Fund Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-484-7728