OTTAWA — All life on earth began in the ocean. In 2019, Canadians continue to depend on the oceans for climate stability, carbon sequestration and for food. World Fisheries Day was conceived to celebrate the vital importance of oceans, aquatic cultures and fishing communities around the world.
Unfortunately, there is very little to celebrate in 2019. The annual Canadian Fish Audit confirms that Canadian fish populations continue to decline with no sign of recovery in sight. The cod, after a 27-year moratorium, have not returned to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and are now on the edge of extinction in what was for centuries one of the richest fishing grounds on the planet.
“In 1915, the first fishermen’s co-operative for the marketing of fish in the Americas from Tierra del Fuego to Hudson’s Bay was founded in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia,” said Green Party east coast fisheries critic, Clive Doucet. “In 2004, the oldest co-op in the Americas stopped purchasing fish entirely having seen a decline in catches from 15 million to 1.2 million pounds in just four years. We now buy cod from Iceland and Norway; it has become a luxury food.”
“The east coast fishing industry is still the region’s most important sustainable industry. It has been under terrific stress for decades from ocean heating, acidification and violent storms. We need ways to reduce that stress, not increase it,” said Mr. Doucet.
Green Party ciritic for west coast fisheries, George Orr, commented that salmon, a keystone species in the Pacific northwest, has been a source of food and celebration for coastal Indigenous communities for thousands of years.
“Now we are witnessing the worst return of the salmon in 50 years,” said Mr. Orr. “People whose livelihoods depend on the fish are up in arms over this dwindling resource. The bears and the orcas that depend on salmon for sustenance are starving. The liberal government has fallen woefully short in addressing the collapse of the resource. Innovative Green policies will ensure a holistic approach to bring all stakeholders together and create a consensus to restore the salmon."
On World Fisheries Day 2019, the Green Party calls on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure that coastal communities historically dependent on the marine harvest for their livelihoods, be actively involved in fisheries management so they can derive the greatest possible benefit from those fisheries.
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