Yesterday, Canada’s Fisheries Minister announced the continued closure of the commercial and bait fisheries for Atlantic mackerel. While this closure continues to impact thousands of coastal communities and fishers across Atlantic Canada and Quebec, the latest science states that the population is still in the ‘critical zone’ and at an even lower abundance than the previous assessment, the lowest abundance level ever recorded for this stock. When populations are in the critical zone, Canada’s Precautionary Approach policy requires fishing to be reduced to the lowest level possible, so we welcome the continued commercial closure and the work being done by the department and stakeholders to allow this population to rebuild.
However, the delay in this year’s mackerel decision, as well as in other stocks in our region, are very worrisome. These delays increase the uncertainty for fishers and processing plants, which adds to the hardships already being faced due to depleted stocks and fishery closures. Timely decisions are crucial for planning and help build trust in the decision-making process.
The Ecology Action Centre continues to call on the government to now focus on the thousands of people across Atlantic Canada and Quebec that will undergo financial hardship because of this and other closures. It is imperative that the government steps in with direct support to the people affected, particularly small-scale fishers and plant workers who are often impacted the most. It is important to ensure the people directly affected have support to manage financially through these closures, their coastal communities are not further impacted by lack of opportunities, and that they can be ready to fish when these stocks are healthy again.
At the EAC we strive to help create and maintain vibrant and healthy communities. In the same way we support a just transition for workers in the energy sector as we shift away from fossil fuels towards renewable energies, we want to see a just transition towards sustainable and resilient fisheries that directly supports people and ensures the space for community-based fisheries to adapt to our rapidly changing oceans, with priority access to low impact fishing opportunities and enabling policies for adaptation.
Sustainable Fisheries Coordinator