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Inside the Meetings: Discussing Fisheries Management for Northern Cod and Capelin

How To Protect The Ocean

Release Date: 04/29/2024

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Andrew Lewin welcomes marine scientist Rebecca Schijns from Oceana Canada to discuss the state of Northern Cod and Capelin stocks. They delve into the challenges facing these fish populations and explore ways for citizens to take action to help move the fishery from a critical zone to a healthy one.

Tune in to learn more about the importance of protecting our oceans and how you can make a difference.

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The Decline of Northern Cod and Capelin Fishery Stocks

The Northern Cod and Capelin fishery stocks are currently facing significant challenges, with their growth stalling and a potential decline predicted in the near future. The history of the Northern Cod stock dates back over 500 years in Atlantic Canada, playing a crucial role in the region's coastal history. However, industrialization in the 50s and 60s led to overfishing by multiple countries, resulting in the collapse of the fish stocks in Atlantic Canada. Despite efforts to reassess fishing levels, the Canadian fisheries fleet ramped up domestic efforts, leading to further declines in Cod and other ground fish stocks.

The Capelin stocks also faced overfishing in the 90s, with no moratorium in place, resulting in ongoing fishing efforts on the stock. Currently, Capelin is at only 9% of its pre-collapse levels, indicating a severe depletion in the stock. The interdependence between Northern Cod and Capelin is crucial, as Cod relies on Capelin as a key prey species. The lack of a comprehensive management plan for both stocks has contributed to their continued depletion and failure to recover to healthy levels.

Recent assessments have shown that both Northern Cod and Capelin are hovering near the limit reference point, indicating a critical state for the stocks. Despite some positive signs between 2010 and 2016, growth has since flatlined, with projections indicating a potential decline back into the critical zone. The lack of a robust management plan and clear targets for recovery has hindered efforts to restore these fishery stocks to healthy levels.

The recent meetings in Newfoundland, where Fisheries and Oceans Canada and scientific groups discussed the stock assessments, highlighted the urgency of implementing effective management measures. The need for ecosystem-based management decisions, timely implementation of rebuilding plans, and a focus on sustainable harvest levels are crucial to prevent further declines in the Northern Cod and Capelin stocks. The lack of clear management measures and the absence of a long-term vision for rebuilding pose significant challenges to the recovery of these fishery stocks.

As concerned citizens and advocates for ocean conservation, it is essential to raise awareness about the critical state of the Northern Cod and Capelin stocks. Contacting government officials, supporting conservation organizations, and advocating for sustainable fisheries management practices can help drive positive change and ensure the long-term health of these important fishery stocks. By taking action and demanding responsible management practices, we can work towards safeguarding the future of Northern Cod and Capelin populations and promoting ecosystem health in the Atlantic region.

Lack of Implementation of Management Measures for Fishery Stocks

In the episode, Rebecca Skynes from Oceania Canada highlighted the concerning lack of implementation of management measures for fishery stocks, particularly the Northern Cod and Capelin stocks. Despite the availability of tools and resources to improve the situation, there has been a significant delay in implementing necessary measures to ensure the sustainability and recovery of these stocks.

Rebecca mentioned that there have been tools and resources in place since 2019, such as a fisheries monitoring policy and a modernized Fisheries Act, which require rebuilding plans and sustainable management of fish stocks. However, there has been a notable gap in implementing these measures effectively. The lack of a comprehensive management plan for these stocks, with defined targets and harvest control rules, has hindered progress towards their recovery.

Furthermore, the delay in implementing these management measures has led to uncertainty and varying perspectives among stakeholders, including the fishing industry representatives. The Fisheries Union has expressed a desire to increase harvests, even though the stocks are not at healthy levels. This highlights the urgency of implementing ecosystem-based management plans to prevent overfishing and ensure the long-term health of the fishery stocks.

The failure to implement these management measures in a timely manner not only jeopardizes the recovery of fishery stocks but also impacts the fishing community and the ecosystem as a whole. Without clear direction and effective management plans grounded in science, the risk of further decline in fish stocks remains high.

Overall, the episode underscores the critical need for prompt and effective implementation of management measures for fishery stocks to ensure their sustainability and prevent long-lasting impacts on the fishing industry and the marine ecosystem.

Importance of Comprehensive Management Plans for Fishery Stocks

In the episode, Rebecca Skynes from Oceania Canada emphasized the critical importance of having a comprehensive management plan in place for fishery stocks. The management plan should include defined targets and harvest control rules to ensure sustainable and healthy levels for the stocks. Here are some key points highlighting the significance of such plans:

  1. Rebuilding Plans: Rebecca mentioned that there is a lack of a comprehensive management plan for fishery stocks like Northern Cod and Capelin. Without a clear plan in place, it becomes challenging to monitor and manage the stocks effectively. Rebuilding plans are essential for stocks that fall within the critical zone, as they provide a roadmap for recovery and sustainable management.

  2. Predictable Framework: A well-defined management plan provides a predictable framework for the fishing season. It helps avoid crisis management situations where decisions are made reactively. By establishing clear targets and rules, stakeholders can better prepare for the fishing season and ensure that harvest levels are sustainable.

  3. Ecosystem-Based Approaches: The implementation of ecosystem-based management plans is crucial for considering the broader ecological context in which fishery stocks exist. By incorporating ecosystem considerations into management decisions, it becomes possible to address the interconnectedness of species and habitats, leading to more holistic and sustainable management practices.

  4. Timeliness and Adaptability: Management plans need to be timely and adaptable to changing conditions. With climate change introducing additional uncertainties, having flexible and responsive management plans is essential. Timely decisions based on the latest scientific information can help prevent overfishing and ensure the long-term health of fishery stocks.

  5. Long-Term Vision: A comprehensive management plan should have a long-term vision for the recovery and sustainability of fishery stocks. By setting clear targets for what constitutes a healthy stock and defining harvest control rules to achieve those targets, managers can work towards ensuring the long-term viability of the fisheries.

In conclusion, the implementation of comprehensive management plans with defined targets and harvest control rules is crucial for the sustainable management of fishery stocks. These plans provide a structured framework for decision-making, promote ecosystem-based approaches, and aim to achieve healthy and resilient fishery stocks for the future. It is essential for stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to advocate for the development and implementation of robust management plans to protect and conserve our ocean resources.