Canada Target 9
By 2020, all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem-based approaches.
About the Target
Canada's fisheries provide a variety of socio-economic benefits, such as sustenance, employment, recreation, and access to traditional foods. However, where they occur, unsustainable fishing practices compromise biodiversity and the long-term well-being of fisheries, and the communities who depend on them. In order to ensure the future enjoyment of these benefits and the economic sustainability of commercial, recreational, and Indigenous fisheries, it is important to protect and promote healthy ecosystems by avoiding destructive fishing practices, managing bycatch, recovering depleted stocks, and preventing overfishing.
Canada Target 9 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:
- Aichi Target 6 - By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.
2018 Interim Progress Assessment
Canada is making progress but at an insufficient rate to meet Canada Target 9 by 2020. Results of the Sustainability Survey for Fisheries suggest that Canada is generally on track to achieve Canada Target 9 for major fish stocks. However, while catch data are generally comprehensive, details on bycatch species are not well understood. Further, the Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies focus primarily on managing risks at the single fishery level and not on managing risks from all fisheries and stocks within a defined ecosystem.
Canada tracks progress towards Target 9 by assessing both the status of major fish stocks and the harvest of these fish stocks. The primary source of evidence for these assessments is the annual Sustainability Survey for Fisheries. The survey collects information on: the status of the major stocks; whether harvests are considered sustainable; and, progress in applying precautionary approaches and managing bycatch. The survey is informed by Stock Assessment Reports and Research Documents which are peer reviewed.
Canada’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework is the national policy framework for managing fisheries to support the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Within this Framework, individual policies are designed to mitigate the risks that fisheries may pose to target species, bycatch, benthic habitat and other ecosystem components. The policies are applied to fisheries using the best available science information and progress is monitored and assessed. Overall, the Sustainable Fisheries Framework provides the foundation of an ecosystem and precautionary approach to fisheries management in Canada.
Additional work is therefore required to articulate a methodology to manage fisheries and stocks using ecosystem-based approaches. Efforts are also required to take account of the role of forage species in an ecosystem when setting the allowable catch on a forage fish population.
Where the survey determines that a fish stock’s abundance has declined to a critical level (a specified biological threshold), a plan must be put in place that is aimed at rebuilding the stock to healthier levels. In 2017, Canada committed to completing rebuilding plans for 19 priority fish stocks over four years. Rebuilding fish stocks will contribute to increasing and maintaining the biodiversity of Canada’s marine fish resources. Recognizing that this commitment requires ongoing and incremental action, in Fall 2018 the Government of Canada announced additional funding to support the implementation of stock assessment and rebuilding efforts for priority fish stocks under a renewed Fisheries Act.
Canada has made substantial progress in managing fishery impacts on marine benthic habitat areas through fishery closures. Many of Canada’s fisheries area closures have also been identified as other effective area-based conservation measures contributing to Canada Target 1 and Aichi Target 11.
Canada also participates in a number of international fora aimed at supporting global sustainability in fisheries management. For example, Canada participates in multiple Regional Fisheries Management Organizations as well as the North Pacific Fisheries Commission, and is an observer to other commissions, including the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission and the International Whaling Commission.
Canada is a member of the Food and Agriculture Organization Committee on Fisheries, which makes recommendations to governments, regional fishery bodies, non-governmental organizations, fish-workers, and the international community on international fisheries and aquaculture issues. Canada is also in the process of ratifying the 2009 Agreement on Port State Measures Agreement to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which sets global minimum standards for actions that port States must take when a foreign vessel, known or suspected to have engaged in or supported illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, seeks to enter port to land catch or use port services.