Efforts to monitor and rebuild wild fish stocks nationwide have limitations and attention to socio-economic dynamics are needed, a University of Guelph geographer says.
Dr. Jennifer Silver is a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics at the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. She specializes in ocean governance and fisheries management and has been called upon in the past to provide policy advice to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
“The recent audit by Oceana Canada applauds the 2019 Fisheries Act updates as well as policy and regulatory work that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has done since,” says Silver, but the report also draws attention to findings of concern.
Oceana’s report notes that only one third of the 194 assessed wild fish stocks are considered healthy, and that formal rebuilding plans are not in place for some depleted and important stocks. A full 37.1 per cent of the stocks are categorized as “uncertain,” meaning they have yet to be assessed.
The report “draws public attention to the fact that rebuilding work on ‘uncertain’ stocks cannot be triggered until they have been properly assessed,” says Silver. In practice, that means that stocks without an assigned health status could see further depletion, she explains.
Indigenous and Coastal Communities Must Benefit in Rebuilding Efforts
Silver is hopeful that the threatened stocks can be saved. In doing so, she believes important socio-economic factors must be considered, especially who bears the costs and benefits of rebuilding. “We need to be attentive to who has access to different commercial fisheries,” she says.
“When successful rebuilding occurs, opportunities for Indigenous and other coastal communities to participate in and benefit from fisheries need to be sustained and expanded.”
Silver is available for interviews.
Dr. Jennifer Silver