OUR GREAT MINDS

by Tina Olivero

Oceana Canada calls to Put Wild Fish First in Developing a Blue Economy Strategy

On the eve of World Oceans Day, new polling1 released today from Oceana Canada finds that an overwhelming majority of Canadians care deeply about healthy oceans and protecting wild fish populations: 97 per cent say it is important that the Canadian government work to rebuild fish populations to healthy levels, and 95 per cent of all Canadians — 99 per cent of Atlantic Canadians — say it is an important part of our post-pandemic economic recovery.

Canada has not kept pace with progressive fishing nations in correcting the historic mistake of overfishing by allowing fish populations to rebuild, thus creating healthier ecosystems, more jobs, food and income, and opportunities to practice cultural traditions. However, right now, there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix this. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is asking for input before June 15, 2021, to help shape its Blue Economy Strategy that aims to make the oceans healthy and prosperous as part of Canada’s plan to ‘build back better’ from the economic and social havoc wreaked by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In the face of the global pandemic and environmental threats from climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction, the need to protect and restore our oceans has never been more urgent. However, most of the historically bountiful wild fish populations we have relied on for food, jobs, income, culture and recreation have been collapsed for decades or are declining due to overfishing and mismanagement. Only a quarter of Canada’s fisheries are healthy.

“The original foundation of Canada’s ‘blue economy’ has always been our most plentiful and naturally renewing resource: wild fish – which today support the largest job, income and revenue-generating sector within Canada’s ocean-based economy,” said Josh Laughren, Executive Director, Oceana Canada. “Rebuilding fish to healthy, abundant levels must be central to any blue economy strategy, for our oceans and for all the people that rely on them.”

“For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Canada can be a leader with a regenerative blue economy strategy that is the envy of the world, but only if it prioritizes our oceans’ most renewable resource. Without wild fish, there is no blue economy,” said Laughren. “We urge the many Canadians who care so passionately about this issue to join us and call on the government to deliver on its promise to rebuild Canada’s once world-class fisheries, which we have systematically depleted over the past century, for the sake of all those who rely on it today and as a moral obligation to future generations,” said Laughren.

“The good news is that the government already knows what to do,” added Laughren, “It needs to fulfill its mandate commitments to ensure healthy fisheries, using an ecosystem-based approach that prioritizes the long-term health of the ocean. Specifically, this includes implementing strong Fisheries Act regulations that require quality rebuilding plans with timelines and targets for rebuilding.”

Oceana Canada is asking Canadians to call on the government this World Oceans Day to step up to protect our oceans and our economy by signing its petition before the government’s Blue Economy Strategy submission deadline of June 15, 2021.

Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future.

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