Report: Canada’s fisheries poorly managed


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
February 2, 2012

A panel assembled by the Royal Society of Canada has published a report assessing the state of Canada’s marine biodiversity, and it’s calling for sweeping changes in the management of Canada’s oceans.

Since beginning its work in June 2010, the panel has found that biodiversity is at risk in the marine environment, with species at risk of disappearing and recovery plans lacking. ??The report, Sustaining Canadian Marine Biodiversity, focuses on climate change, fisheries and aquaculture. The panel was led by Jeffrey Hutchings of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who presented the reports’s findings on Thursday.

The panel found that, compared to most developing nations, Canada has made little substantive progress in fulfilling national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity. The report said progress in meeting those obligations is impeded by the regulatory conflict within Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans to simultaneously promote industrial development and ocean conservation. It is also impeded by the absolute discretion afforded to the federal fisheries minster.

In addition, according to the panel, the Fisheries Act is an insufficient statutory tool to enable Canada to fulfill many obligations to sustain marine biodiversity and requires extensive revision or replacement. The Species at Risk Act has yet to provide an effective legislative mechanism for the protection, conservation and recovery of at-risk marine species.

Among the panel’s findings are: climate change is making some mountain streams too shallow and warm for juvenile chinook salmon, which could lead to the extinction of some populations; rising acid levels in water will harm the ability of everything from mussels to lobsters to build their shells; and aquaculture has the potential to accelerate the spread of parasites and diseases and can undermine wild species by interbreeding.??

The report also determined that Canada has 797 marine protected areas, accounting for less than 1 percent of its oceans — far less than its international commitments ask for to establish a protected network covering 10 percent of them; and that 20 years after the collapse of Newfoundland’s northern cod fishery, there is still no recovery target or timeline for rebuilding the population.??

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