TORONTO, June 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the new proposed Fisheries Act, Bill C-68, was passed by the House of Commons and will now be studied in the Senate. The Bill includes a historic change in how Canada manages our fisheries: for the first time since the Fisheries Act was enacted in 1868, this Bill would direct the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to manage fish stocks sustainably, and to put rebuilding plans in place for depleted stocks.

“The new amendments in Bill C-68 are a big step forward. If backed by strong regulations, this proposed Act could put Canada’s fisheries on a path to abundance and provide greater economic benefits to communities,” said Josh Laughren, Executive Director, Oceana Canada. “Thanks to Minister LeBlanc’s leadership, the new provisions bring Canada closer to modern fisheries management laws in other leading fishing nations.”

While applauding the Bill, Oceana Canada noted there could still be stormy waters ahead. Bill C-68 allows the Minister to exempt stocks from rebuilding and sustainability requirements if it is deemed that there are adverse socio-economic or cultural impacts, as long as the reasons are made public. 

“We applaud the transparency of decision making,” said Laughren. “However, we must ensure that the exceptions allowed in the proposed Act are rarely made and only for good reason, when absolutely necessary. Strong regulations, providing guidance on the use of exceptions and outlining requirements for science-based targets and timelines for fisheries rebuilding, are essential for this proposed Act to succeed in restoring Canada’s fisheries.”

Oceana Canada is calling on the Senate to quickly take up consideration of the Bill, and to support the new provisions for rebuilding and sustainably managing Canada’s fisheries, for the long-term benefit of our oceans and all who rely upon them.

In the fall of 2017, Oceana Canada released the 2017 Fisheries Audit that revealed that Canadian fisheries are in trouble: only one third of stocks are considered healthy and 13 per cent are in critical condition. Research shows that successfully rebuilding fish stocks occurs in jurisdictions where rebuilding plans are mandatory for overfished stocks. Oceana Canada will continue its work to ensure rebuilding is strongly mandated in the Fisheries Act amendments.

For more information, please contact: Kara-Ann Miel, Communications Director, Oceana Canada, 647-535-6326, kmiel@oceana.ca

About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works 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. oceana.ca.