Welcome to Sustainable Fisheries

Moratorium means more than “Northern Cod”

Twenty years have past since the groundfish moratoria were declared. Most people think of one species and one groundfish stock when the word moratorium is mentioned. The word moratorium has become synonymous with the Northern Cod stock only. This is most unfortunate because while northern cod was our largest and most important groundfish stock, it represented only about 25% of groundfish landed. The magnitude of the groundfish collapse impacted much beyond Northern Cod.  

The groundfish moratoria devastated the rural economy of our Province. The most productive towns and communities in the industry were lost due to the groundfish collapse. These include Port aux Choix, Port aux Basques, Ramea, Burgeo, Hr. Breton, Gaultois, Fortune, Grand Bank, Burin, Marystown, Trepassey, Hr. Grace, Port Union and St. Anthony. In addition, many other communities lost the most important component of their economy. While the inshore groundfish industry was primarily based on cod, it seasonally provided substantially more employment for longer periods and contributed to the economy of many more communities than is currently derived from shellfish.

TAGS: groundfish,moratorium, northern cod, shellfish, rebuilding strategy, NL fishery


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Asian carp in the Great Lakes: how high the risk?

A binational report released by DFO stated that Asian carp could find hospitable conditions in all five of the Great Lakes if they gain a foothold.The report is based on a 16-month assessment of risk to the lakes from the invasive carp, which have infested the Mississippi Rivers and many of its tributaries. The threat is that carp will enter Lake Michigan through a Chicago-area waterway network. The analysis by U.S. and Canadian scientists says it could take as few as 10 male and female pairs to establish a population in the lakes if they find good spawning areas. It says more than 70 rivers across the Great Lakes could serve that purpose. The report suggests that the major ecological consequence resulting from the establishment and spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes would likely be an overall decline in certain native fish species, including some commercially and recreationally important ones. Such declines could occur because Asian carp would compete with prey fish that primarily eat plankton. This could lead to reduced growth rates and declines in abundance of prey fish species, and thus predatory fish would also likely decline.

TAGS: sustainable, fish, fisheries, fishing, Asian carp, Great Lakes


Death of Evidence: protesting Harper's assault on science

Taking advantage of a major conference in Ottawa, thousands of scientists marched on Parliament Hill today to protest what they termed the "Death of Evidence." The Grim Reaper led the way. The scientists were protesting the relentless and continuing assault by the Harper govt on science in Canada. The Harper govt is noted for basing its policies on ideology and political convenience rather than evidence. Whether it be criminal policy or environmental inaction the Harper has a consistent track record of ignoring evidence and shooting the messenger. Its cuts to DOE and Fisheries and Oceans are vivid proof of its disdain for those who seek knowledge and evidence-based decision making. Examples include the slashing of environmental monitoring, the closure of the world class Experimental Lakes research facility in northern Ontario and cuts to oceans and fisheries science. The recent jamming through Parliament of the Omnibus legislation that gutted the habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act and the environmental assessment process in an attempt to ensure swift approval of petroleum development projects for the govt's friends in big industry illustrate clearly this govt's contempt for evidence, facts and the views of everyday Canadians.

 A tip of the hat to the scientists who marched today! May the Opposition Parties renew the fight with vigour when parliament reconvenes!

TAGS: sustainable, oceans, fisheries, environment, Death of Evidence, Harper govt, fish habitat, Fisheries Act, environmental assessment


EU making slow progress in reducing overcapacity

Overcapacity-far too many boats for the volume of fish available-  was identified as the primary shortcoming of EU fisheries management in a 2009 Commission Green Paper. A new report this week indicates that little progress is being made in addressing this problem, In 2010 fleet capacity expressed in engine power and tonnage was reduced on average by 2 and 4 per cent respectively. Technological progress probably offsets these minor capacity reductions. The report's findings put into question the efficiency of publicly financed capacity reductions. A 2011 Court of Auditors' report also concluded the failure of the current measures, and advocates either a new approach or better application of existing measures. Report available here:

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fishing, overcapacity, EU, excessive fishing effort, overfishing


Harper govt gutting fish habitat protection

The Harper govt in its Omnibus Budget legislation Bill C-38 is destroying the environmental assessment process in Canada and gutting the fish habitat provisions of the Fiaheries Act. There has been a widespead negative reaction to this move by environmental groups, university scientists and opposition politicians. This reaction is grounded in facts.

Removing protection for fish habitats is drawing the most fire. Currently Section 35 of the Fisheries Act requires an environmental review before someone can alter or destroy a body of water that is vital to the life cycle of fish.The Conservative bill kills the reference to habitat and instead places protection on fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery.

I worked for the government for 35 years before retiring in 2002. I oversaw fish habitat as Fisheries and Oceans assistant deputy minister from 1994 to 1999. I quickly learned that environmental groups considered Section 35 the most crucial piece of environmental legislation in the country. In a recent interview with the Hallifax Chronicle Herald I pointed out that this is “much more than a minor definitional change. Basically, they’re gutting the Fisheries Act. They’re gutting the most powerful piece of environmental legislation in Canada. In my opinion, it’s a regressive move, a move back to the Stone Age of fish habitat management."  http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/90484-critics-assail-conservatives-for-gutting-fisheries-protections

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fish habitat,habitat protection,Fisheries Act, Scott Parsons

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