Pacific Salmon Foundation: Salmon Watersheds Program

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Monitoring Marine Fisheries Catch – Fisheries and Oceans Canada

author Office of the Auditor General of Canada
published year 2023
document type government
species Pacific salmon, steelhead
location Canada
subjects fisheries management, habitat loss, climate change
access file download pdf

Overall, Fisheries and Oceans Canada remained unable to collect the dependable and timely catch data that it needs to sustainably manage commercial marine fisheries and protect Canada’s fish stocks. The type of data collected includes the quantity of catch and bycatch species or the biological characteristics (length, weight, or sex) of fish harvested.

We audited this area in 2016, and 7 years later, we found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has yet to deliver on most of the corrective measures that it committed to in its responses to our recommendations. For example, while the department now has the Fishery Monitoring Policy, the policy was not supported by plans and resources, and it has not been implemented. Many important monitoring requirements that would improve the timeliness and dependability of fish catch data remain absent or incomplete.

On the modernization of the department’s information management systems—also a commitment made in 2016progress has been slow. The department has spent some $31 million to improve its outdated system to have one that would integrate all the regions and provide ready access to catch data, but the department has delivered only the initial modules of this new system and has pushed its timeline for delivery across all regions from 2020 to 2030. As a result, the department still does not have a complete picture about the amount of fish harvested and their biological characteristics to make informed decisions.

Without dependable and timely catch data, the department does not have the important information it needs to support the sustainable management of fisheries, and it runs the risk that fish stocks are overexploited. The collapse of the Atlantic cod population in the 1990s—with its far-reaching economic and social impacts—has shown that the recovery of fish stocks is far more difficult and resource intensive than keeping a species’ numbers at a healthy level.