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Media release: Innovative research presents deep dive on national fisheries health, finding bright spots along the way

Posted by Communications and Marketing on February 6, 2024 in News

Tuesday, February 6, 2024 (Halifax, NS) - Commercial fisheries are a vital part of Canada's economy and culture, with exports alone exceeding $9 billion in 2021. They are also key to the federal government's pledge to manage all marine life sustainably by 2025.

Currently, however, only 29 per cent of Canadian fish stocks are at healthy levels of abundance, while 17 per cent are in the 'critical zone.' If Canada is to meet its commitment, it needs an improved understanding of effective strategies for managing fisheries sustainably.

Researchers at Dalhousie University, Carleton University and MIT took an unusual approach to determine what drives fisheries health in Canada by looking at positive outliers: that is, stocks doing better than expected. They wanted to understand what institutional, economic and social factors play the biggest role in affecting fish-stock health and how this information could be used to help transform stocks that are depleted.

Scientists, led by post-doctoral fellow Laurenne Schiller of Dalhousie, analyzed all 230 commercial stocks in Canada to first see what drives overall stock health. In a new report published today, they found that healthier stocks were predictably linked to certain management regions, more selective fishing gears, ‘sustainable seafood’ eco-certification, and high fishery value.

Then they used surveys and interviews with experts to uncover the deeper reasons why outliers were doing so well. They found that stocks doing better than expected had lower conflict among fishers, less industry interference in decision-making, and better estimates of total catches.

"When you realize that fisheries management is all about human relationships, our results make complete sense," says first author, Dr. Schiller. "What’s surprising is that even within our country — which has the same laws and regulations from coast to coast to coast — we see such differences in catch oversight and in how management decisions get made.”

Dr. Schiller and co-author Dr. Boris Worm are available to discuss the findings and how learning from positive outliers might inform fisheries management in Canada.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University 
Cell: 1-902-220-0491 


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