Crustaceans in the Pacific are in decline according to Oceana Canada’s recent fisheries audit. (Pixabay photo)

Advocacy group calls for change as fisheries audit shows decline in healthy fish stocks

Pacific crustacean among the declining populations

An audit of fisheries in Canada points to a decline in healthy fish stocks over the last two years, including crustacean stocks in the Pacific.

The advocacy group Oceana Canada released an annual report Nov. 13, assessing fisheries in the country based on data from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Several fish stocks across the country are in decline according to the report, with many concerns on the Atlantic coast. In the Pacific, however, stocks for fish like Pacific Herring in the Prince Rupert District and Haida Gwaii, Bocaccio rockfish in B.C. waters and yelloweye rockfish in both the inside and outside waters population are in decline.

Crustaceans like pink shrimp and sidestripe shrimp are also newly in decline, something Oceana Canada said could be a problem if it becomes a trend.

“Something we’ve noticed in this audit is that a few more crustacean stock have been added to the critical zone and so much of the seafood industry in Canada is reliant on crustaceans,” said Josh Laughren, Oceana Canada executive director. “If that becomes a trend…if those start to decline, boy our fisheries are in trouble.”

READ ALSO: Audit finds Canada’s fisheries in decline and response lacks urgency

Laughren said the purpose of the audit is to measure the performance of the government against their own commitments; it takes a look at the government’s policies and ranks against their own performance indicators.

However, Oceana Canada found that the government is falling behind in important areas. The group is calling for Ottawa to finalize regulations and set timelines and targets in order to rebuild stocks that are being depleted.

According to the audit, 17 per cent of Canada’s fish stocks are critically depleted, up by four per cent from last year. About 29 per cent of stocks were considered to be healthy, but the stocks that are in a critical or cautious state outnumber the healthy stocks.

A large number of stocks – 38 per cent – are also categorized as uncertain, meaning the Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not have enough data to assess the status of those stocks. There was an increase in the number of uncertain stocks compared to previous years.

READ ALSO: Fisheries finds a new way for residents to report illegal activity

“It bears noting we’re really pleased, in the last four years we’ve seen a big increase in transparency and information from the DFO that allows us to do an audit like this,” Laughren said. “We’ve seen a big increase in funding and hiring…it’s really time that those investments start showing up in these indicators. It’s time to turn money into tangible changes.”

Laughren also noted that the Pacific region is ahead when it comes to observing and monitoring stocks – something Oceana Canada would like to see more of on the east coast.

The report also made note of a new Fisheries Act that was amended in June, calling it a chance to make progress in the field. But regulations are still developing, and Laughren said the government should be making moves to get a plan in place with goals and timelines.

As fish stocks are in decline, Laughren calls the situation a “crisis in slow motion.”

“We’ve lost about 50 per cent of the entire biomass of fish since 1970,” Laughren said. “We’re still slowly declining and if we don’t change that curve we know what will happen.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sex workers march in downtown Victoria for Red Umbrella Day

Red umbrellas became a symbol of sex workers after an art installation in Italy

MLA Adam Olsen calls for ‘substantial’ changes in provincial economy

Green Party MLA also criticizes gap between government rhetoric and actions

500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Annual dinner serves hundreds of community members

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read