Positions On Issues


Fisheries Management Renewal - An Opportunity for Change

(Notes from a Power Point Presentation)
Presentation to BC Seafood Alliance
"Sustainability through Co-management" Workshop
October 9-10, 2002
by Pat Chamut

1. Fisheries Management Renewal in Canada

The last decade has been very difficult for the fishing industry and resource managers on both coasts. There is a need to review and modernize the Policy and Programs governing Fisheries Management in Canada.

This presentation will:

Review the changing context for Fisheries Management
Describe key elements of our Fisheries Renewal Initiative
Propose a vision and objectives for Fisheries Management
Summarize work underway
Explain the constraints and challenges we face in advancing renewal in the Pacific fishery

2. The Changing Context for Fisheries Management in Canada

Canada’s fisheries have undergone dramatic changes over the past twenty-five years.

stock abundance shifts
fishing industry restructuring
government programs
market dynamics
legal context for management
international regimes
emergence of new sectors

While many changes have been introduced, there have been no fundamental reviews of policy since Pearse and Kirby in the early 1980’s.

Policies are dated, and there are fundamental deficiencies in our approach to resource management that result in;

high dependency on government-top down management
micromanagement and excess costs
poor economic performance; wealth dissipation
conflict over access and allocation
uncertain objectives
threats to conservation
failure to meet mandate

Fisheries Management Renewal is designed to tackle underlying problems in the way fisheries are managed.

Incremental steps toward a destination; not cataclysmic transformation.

3. Fisheries Management Renewal

Overall goal is to achieve ecologically and economically sustainable fisheries for Canada.

The initiative consists of a complementary suite of elements:

Adoption of clear policy framework

Vision, objectives and strategies for Resource Management

Modernizing operations

Improved Conservation - explicit targets to ensure sustainable resource utilization
Orderly Management - strengthen overall ability to manage efficiently and effectively
Improved Governance - citizen engagement, shared stewardship in decision making

Modernized legislative framework

regulatory streamlining and new legal framework

International leadership

a prerequisite for meeting domestic objectives

4. Fisheries Management: Vision and Objectives

A fundamental underpinning of Fisheries Management Renewal is clarity on what we want to achieve.

current policy inadequate - an amalgam of social, economic and biological outcomes
creates a void for decision making and frustrates evaluation of performance

Work in progress to define Policy Vision and Objectives

Current thinking - Policy Vision focuses on having a biologically sustainable resource supporting fisheries that are:

robust and self reliant
economically viable for participants and
meet constitutional protection for aboriginal and Treaty rights

To achieve such a Vision, we believe four objectives must be adopted:

conservation and sustainable use
self reliance
stability in access and allocation
shared stewardship

5. Fisheries Management Renewal - Objectives

Conservation and Sustainable Use

conservation must be the highest priority for management of all fisheries.

conservation: "sustainable use that safeguards ecological processes and genetic diversity for present and future generations"

harvest management decisions - a balanced assessment based on risk management framework incorporating the Precautionary Approach
decisions on acceptable risk to be made with stakeholders, and involve adoption of pre-determined reference levels that trigger actions.
complementary strategies include adoption of ecosystem based management, and responsible harvesting practices.

Self Reliance

Our Policy framework must provide the circumstances for the fishing industry to be self reliant, economically viable and self sustaining on a long term basis.


This objective requires that resource users have a greater role in making decisions that affect their viability and profitability.
Providing greater flexibility to make choices for management of their enterprises, within constraints, will enhance self reliance.

Stability in Access and Allocations

Disputes over access and allocation compromise investments in conservation and orderly management.
Policy must provide positive incentives with a goal of more stable arrangements.
Where adjustments are considered, or for new fishing opportunity, a more transparent process with consistent rules is required.

Shared Stewardship

Key objective of new policy will be to move away from top down direction and enhance decision making by resource users (within constraints); if resource users have little direct say, there is no ownership of policies of operational decisions.
Greater decision making must be accompanied by greater accountability for outcomes and costs.
Shift to shared stewardship gradually - dependent upon organizational capability, diversity of interests and complexity & status of the fishery.

6. Fisheries Management Renewal - Work Underway

Policy Renewal

Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review
Pacific New Directions Series
National Policy Framework for Fisheries Management

Operational Modernization

Development of New Program Capacity

Information Management
Adoption of New Technology
Conservation and Protection- Focus on Compliance
Human Resource Recruitment


Objective Based Management.  Based on the Development of fish management plans using risk management strategies and the Precautionary Approach with conservation limits, targets and explicit conservation goals.

Legislative Renewal

Amendments driven by Policy Renewal work
Assessment of legislative constraints to Policy changes now underway

Access and Allocation

Independent Panel on Access Criteria - Atlantic

7. Constraints and Challenges

Renewal of Fisheries Management Policies and Programs is a challenging task and nowhere more so than in the Pacific:

Addressing Aboriginal Rights and Treaties
Adopting a sustainable management framework for wild salmon
Rebuilding consultation processes
Operationalizing Ecosystem Management and marine conservation objectives
Implementing Species at Risk Legislation
Developing Selective Harvesting practices
Building capacity for shared stewardship
Implementing program adjustments to SEP, Fish Management and Science

This agenda is daunting, but is achievable if government and the industry work together.

8. Conclusion

Pacific fisheries represent a valuable source of wealth and opportunity for Canada, if managed sustainably.
Our commitment - build a policy framework that provides for sustainable resource use and an economically viable fishery sector.
That goal can be best met through shared stewardship with all resource users.
The fishing sector has been through difficult times - but there is an opportunity to make constructive change to secure a prosperous future.
We are prepared to work together to achieve that outcome.
We seek your views on directions outlined, and your support for Fisheries Management Renewal.