THE SITUATION

“In the last decades of the 20th century, Canada’s oceans lost 50 per cent of the total amount of fish by weight due to overfishing. Much of the historic abundance that sustained Indigenous Peoples since time immemorial has been lost in just one generation.”
— Roger Augustine, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief NB/PEI

Declining Fisheries

Declining Fisheries

Only a quarter of Canada’s fish populations can confidently be considered healthy, with worrying decreases in economically important crustaceans and ecologically essential forage fish.

data gaps

Data
Gaps

Data is missing for more than a third of Canada’s fisheries. This makes it difficult to near impossible to accurately assess their health or determine how to sustainably manage them.

slow pace

Slow
Pace

Government actions to support rebuilding have stalled. At the current rate, it will take 37 years before Canada has developed plans for rebuilding all critically depleted populations.

THE PROOF IS IN
THE NUMBERS

Oceana Canada’s fourth annual Fishery Audit assesses how well Canada’s fisheries are managed. Science, monitoring and management indicators are used to determine progress toward restoring abundance to Canada’s oceans.

HEALTH STATUS

pie chart 2017
pie chart 2018
pie chart 2019
pie chart 2020
HEALTHY
Biomass > 80 per cent
CAUTIOUS
Biomass between 40 - 80 per cent
CRITICAL
Biomass < 40 per cent
UNCERTAIN

*per cent of maximum sustainable yield or equivalent proxy.

science

SCIENCE

Assess how healthy fish populations are using the best available science

Stocks with sufficient level
of data to assign
health status

2017
63.9%
2018
62.9%
2019
61.9%
2020

Redfish rebounding


Worm

"We can’t help heal the ocean unless we know what is happening there and how it affects us, making research key to unlocking the potential for abundant marine life.”

— Dr. Boris Worm, Killam Research Professor, Dalhousie University and Oceana Science Advisor

monitoring

MONITORING

Determines how many fish are removed and if harvesters are obeying the rules

Stocks with some level of
at-sea or electronic
monitoring

2017
71.1%
2018
71.1%
2019
83.5%
2020

Missing mackerel data


Turris

"Fishers want to be able to trust what everyone else is putting down — that there’s a level playing field. There shouldn’t be any groundfish trawl trips without at least electronic monitoring on board.”

— Bruce Turris, Executive Manager, Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society

management

MANAGEMENT

Planning and making decisions for the long-term health of the fishery

Critical zone stocks with rebuilding plans to support their recovery

2017
11.5%
2018
11.5%
2019
18.2%
2020

Continuing to overfish cod


Rangeley

"Keeping the northern cod quota at this unsustainably high level allows us to continue irresponsible fishing pressure on a population that is deep in the critical zone. We all want to see cod populations regrow. We need to be patient — you can’t fish your way out of this kind of biological debt.”

— Dr. Robert Rangeley, Director of Science, Oceana Canada

MAPPING THE MOST
DANGEROUSLY
DEPLETED STOCKS

In 2020, there was no improvement in the number of critically depleted stocks off Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts. And far too many of them continue to lack any rebuilding plan: a mere six out of 33 stocks have them. What is new is the increase in the number of shellfish stocks and forage fish stocks on the list — a worrying trend.

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  • plan in placePLAN IN PLACE
  • commitment to develop planCOMMITMENT TO DEVELOP PLAN
  • no planNO PLAN

SOLUTIONS

Over the past few years, Canada has made efforts toward rebuilding and maintaining healthy fisheries by restoring funding, increasing transparency and passing new policies and a modernized Fisheries Act. These investments must now be translated to action.

Progress on 2019 priorities
implementation gap

In the year ahead, Oceana Canada urges Fisheries and Oceans Canada to address the most urgent fisheries management gaps, including:

  • discComplete regulations to bring into force the new provisions in the Fisheries Act
  • discAddress inconsistencies in catch monitoring by implementing the national
    Fishery Monitoring Policy
  • discDevelop and implement high-quality rebuilding plans that include targets and timelines

Supplementary report materials including methodology and full scientific analysis.

WE CAN SAVE THE OCEANS
AND FEED THE WORLD.

Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the 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.

oceana.ca