Oceana Canada Warns that the Urgency to Rebuild Fisheries Has Never Been Greater

A Canadian fishing community. Photo: Oceana Canada.

Ocean conservation group and international charity Oceana Canada is warning that there’s an urgent need to accelerate government commitments and action to bring Canada’s fish populations back to health.

The organization also calls for prioritizing thriving fisheries and healthy oceans that build resilience in communities, contribute to the seafood economy and provide essential social-cultural and nutritional value.

The remarks were made during Oceana Canada’s symposium, “Rebuilding Abundance: Priorities for a Resilient Ocean,” held on Ontario on Oct. 26. The event brought together leading ocean and fishery experts, Indigenous and fishing industry leaders and policymakers from across Canada.

The symposium is intended to chart a course for restoring abundance in Canada’s oceans, prioritizing rebuilding depleted fish populations for the long-term health and viability of the country’s coastal communities, seafood economy and oceans.

“Fisheries rebuilding is an urgent issue, with threats like climate change, overfishing and pollution devastating the oceans,” Oceana Canada said in a statement.

“Without immediate action by the Canadian government to rebuild ocean abundance, coastal communities that depend on healthy marine ecosystems are being put at risk, ” Oceana Canada Executive Director Josh Laughren said. “Already faced with climate change-induced threats leading to warming oceans and climate events, such as hurricane Fiona, failing to act on ending overfishing and fisheries mismanagement is creating an uncertain future.”

“There has never been more urgency to come together to accelerate decision-making to build resilience,” he added.

In November, Oceana Canada releases its sixth annual fishery audit, an analysis of Canada’s fisheries and how they are being managed. Since the first audit was conducted in 2017, the organizations has said, data has found that Canada is still overfishing depleted stocks, such as capelin, and is consistently failing to support rebuilding wild fish populations or take into consideration the threats such as climate change to the country’s most economically valuable stocks, invertebrates including snow crab and lobster.

Speakers and panelists at the symposium included academics from across Canada, representatives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Fisheries Council of Canada, and Ocean Choice International. Others included the fishing industry associations Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) and Skipper Otto, a community-supported fishery, and the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters Federation.