` Oceana Fishery Audit 2021

Management Indicators
Only Two Rebuilding Plans Released in 2021

Integrated Fisheries Management Plans outline the objectives for fisheries and how fisheries should be managed to meet these targets. Today, 91 per cent of Canada’s stocks are included in IFMPs — a significant jump from 71 per cent five years ago. But it’s a different story for rebuilding plans. Although they are required for all critically depleted stocks, the plans developed to date cover a mere 21 per cent of them.

In 2017, DFO committed to completing 19 rebuilding plans by the end of March 2021. They’ve fallen far short of that goal, publishing less than half. Two of those were released this year: one was for Atlantic mackerel, a stock that has spent nearly a decade in the critical zone, while the other was a long-awaited rebuilding plan for critically depleted northern cod, which has been under a fishing moratorium since 1992. But these plans have significant flaws.

These plans — like all rebuilding plans released to date — fail to establish adequate timelines. Moreover, the rebuilding target established for northern cod is set well below the critical zone boundary. As a result, even if the rebuilding plan is successful, at some undetermined date, in meeting this rebuilding target, the stock will remain dangerously depleted.

Strong regulations to support the new Fisheries Act should include requirements to improve the timeliness and quality of rebuilding plans. Unfortunately, the draft regulations released for public comment don’t require clear, measurable actions to rebuild depleted populations to healthy levels — the globally accepted standard of fisheries management. Instead, they go out of their way to avoid setting any enforceable standards. DFO has committed to developing and implementing eight more rebuilding plans by the end of March 2022.

Stocks included in Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs) (%)

Purpose: Provide a planning framework for the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s fisheries, clearly outlining how a fishery will be managed over a given period.


Stocks in the critical zone with rebuilding plans in place (%)

Purpose: Provide a planning framework to rebuild stocks. Serious harm is occurring to stocks in the critical zone, and conservation actions are crucial.


ϖ Michael H.H. Price, Karl K. English, Andrew G. Rosenberger, Misty MacDuffee and John D. Reynolds (2017). “Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy: an assessment of conservation progress in British Columbia.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 74: 1507–1518. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2017-0127

Ϫ Salmon Watersheds Program (2020). Pacific Salmon Explorer. Available online at: https://www.salmonexplorer.ca/#!/

The two rebuilding plans released since the last Fishery Audit fail to include the targets and science-based timelines to bring the populations out of the critical zone and return them to a healthy level.

The Sad State of Wild Pacific Salmon

Challenges related to fisheries health and management extend beyond the marine stocks analyzed in this report. Consider wild Pacific salmon—species managed by DFO. Pacific salmon are undeniably important fish in this country, economically, culturally, and as a food source for many other species, from humans to orcas. Despite their importance, the same fisheries management issues exist for salmon as with other wild fish populations, with an absence of reference points, inadequate monitoring and slow policy implementationϖ. Currently, the status of most salmon populations is unknown. And of those populations that do have enough data, few are considered healthyϪ.