Management Action Plan

Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

Report 2 – Sustaining Canada’s Major Fish Stocks
Date: Fall 2016


The complete Report 2: Sustaining Canada’s Major Fish Stocks—Fisheries and Oceans Canada from the 2016 Fall Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development please click here.


Commissioner’s Recommendations Departmental Response to Recommendations Actions Taken to Date to Address Recommendations Offices of Primary Interest
2.28 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should set out priorities, targets, and timelines for putting in place Integrated Fisheries Management Plans for all major fish stocks. These should include long-term, specific, measurable objectives, performance reviews, and rebuilding plans for stocks in the critical zone that are still being fished. These plans should also be made publicly accessible. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will develop a plan with priorities, targets, and timelines for completing Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs) for all major stocks that currently do not have these plans, and for updating existing plans that are out of date. Development of the IFMPs will be consistent with the departmental guidance on IFMPs, which includes a requirement for clear fishery objectives and a performance review. The Department’s plan will include priorities and timelines for making IFMPs not already posted accessible to the public through the departmental website.

The Department will also develop a plan with priorities, targets, and timelines for completing rebuilding plans that are in line with the Department’s Guidance for the Development of Rebuilding Plans under the Precautionary Approach Framework for stocks that are in the critical zone.

The Department will develop both plans by the end of the 2016–17 fiscal year.
A plan has been developed to complete the IFMPs and another to complete the stock rebuilding plans. Both plans identify priorities for fiscal year 2017-18 primarily. We’ve also established timelines for updating both plans before the 2018-19 fiscal year and every subsequent year thereafter until the work is complete.

This staggered approach will allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada to focus on the most pressing areas of concern while, at the same time, ensuring we have an evergreen strategy in place that will guide the completion of our IFMPs and rebuilding plans in the years ahead.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management
2.45 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should review its current scientific survey activities to identify gaps, and adjust its activities to ensure they are fully aligned with departmental priorities. With the new funding received from Budget 2016, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will increase its monitoring coverage of key areas and species of marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates. The Department is currently developing a long-term plan that incorporates this new funding and provides the opportunity to further address knowledge gaps and align the Department’s scientific monitoring activities with key departmental priorities. The plan will be developed by the end of the 2016–17 fiscal year. The work is complete.

Monitoring coverage (science surveys) has already been improved in the first implementation year following Budget 2016. For example, enhanced monitoring capacity has allowed Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct an important whale survey in the North-West Atlantic in Summer 2016 in collaboration with the USA. The Department has also put in place a new national monitoring envelope (approximately $3M per year) allowing an enhanced monitoring of key species and ecosystems. Finally, the Department has also completed a national review of its monitoring of all major stocks including surveys as well as other sources of data that we use to support stock assessments. This review identifies a number of monitoring gaps and options to consider to improve our monitoring in the future. The review is synthesized in a national report that will be the basis for a discussion with clients to ensure monitoring activities are well aligned with key departmental priorities. Once the discussions with clients are completed, a final report will be produced. This report and the improvements made in the planning process of our monitoring activities will guide our planning process in the future.
Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems & Oceans Science
2.52 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should improve controls for third-party fisheries observer programs to ensure sufficient coverage of fishing vessels, timely data, and mitigation of potential or actual conflicts of interest on the part of observer companies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will undertake the following:

2.52.1. Finalize a national policy on fisheries monitoring (currently under development). The policy will introduce a risk-based method to establish fishery monitoring coverage, to ensure consistency across fisheries, and to make reliable and timely data available for fisheries management. The goal is to complete the fishery monitoring policy in 2017.
2.52.1. The work to develop a national policy on fishery-dependent monitoring is on track. DFO has prepared a draft of the policy and draft risk analysis tool to help determine the monitoring requirements for a fishery. Working with industry representatives, Departmental officials piloted the risk analysis tool on four Atlantic Bluefin Tuna fisheries. The results will be used to inform needed improvements to the reporting and monitoring programs in these fisheries, starting in the 2017 fishery. Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management
2.52.2. Implement a program to verify compliance of observer companies with the National Dockside Monitoring Program Policy and Procedures and the At-Sea Observer Program Corporation Designation Policy and Procedures. Based on the analysis of the verification results, the Department will identify key findings and recommendations, if applicable. Outcomes of the verification process may be used to inform decisions about the national at-sea observer and dockside monitoring programs. The Department launched the verification process in July 2016 and will continue this process on an ongoing basis. 2.52.2. A verification methodology was prepared and two pilots were conducted in July and September, 2016. Based on the results of these pilots, the verification team has proposed some modifications to the methodology to improve efficiency, reduce costs and align with other program components (such as the Canadian General Standards Board audits, the dockside audit checks and the DFO re-designation schedule). The revised approach was approved by the C&P National Executive Committee (NEC) in December 2016.

The new verification approach is being piloted in Quebec City and Halifax over the course of March and April 2017. Final adjustments will be made and training will be delivered where required prior to implementation. The verification methodology will be finalized by late April, 2017. The national verification strategy will be fully implemented in May 2017.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management
2.52.3. Develop and implement interim guidelines for mitigation of conflicts of interest. These guidelines will remain in effect until the Department revises its dockside monitoring program policy and at-sea observer policy. Development of interim guidelines will begin immediately and remain in effect until the revisions of the dockside monitoring program policy and the at-sea observer policy are finalized. 2.52.3. The National At-Sea Observers Program (ASOP)/Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) Coordinators committee met in October 2016 and discussed an interim protocol for mitigation of conflicts of interest. A protocol based on these discussions discussions has been completed and approved and will be implemented starting in April 2017. Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management
2.52.4. Revise the dockside monitoring program policy and at-sea observer policy to incorporate the interim guidelines for mitigation of conflict of interest, and a set of graduated measures to manage non-compliance issues, such as quality and timeliness of data. Revisions of the dockside monitoring program policy and the at-sea observer policy will begin in early 2017; this process is expected to take 12 to 18 months. 2.52.4. Revision of the dockside monitoring and at-sea observer policies was discussed at the National ASOP/DMP Coordinators committee in October 2016. Based on the outcomes of the Coordinators meeting, and the direction provided subsequent to the December 2016 meeting of the NEC, a 3-year action plan was developed to address the various issues facing the program, including conflict of interest and options for managing non-compliance. This action plan was presented to the NEC in February 2017 and will be finalized in April 2017. Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management
2.63 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should set out priorities and timelines for establishing the reference points at which the major stocks it manages can be considered healthy, in the cautious zone, or in the critical zone. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will develop a plan with priorities, targets, and timelines for establishing precautionary approach (PA) reference points, where technically feasible, for key stocks under the Department’s management control, where the reference points do not exist. A plan will be developed by the end of the 2016–17 fiscal year. A work plan has been developed to establish precautionary approach reference points for the major stocks, where needed. The plan identifies priorities for fiscal year 2017-18 primarily. The plan will be updated before fiscal year 2018-19 to identify the next set of priority actions to develop reference points. We’ve also established timelines for updating both plans next fiscal year and every subsequent year thereafter until the work is complete.

This staggered approach will allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada to focus on the most pressing areas of concern while, at the same time, ensuring we have an evergreen strategy in place that will guide the completion of the work to develop reference points in the years ahead.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science and Oceans Protection Plan
2.65 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should set out priorities and timelines for identifying the measures to be taken if a major stock falls below a certain level, where this has not yet been done, so that sustainable fishing limits can be determined with greater certainty. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will develop a plan with priorities, targets, and timelines for establishing precautionary approach harvest control rules, where technically feasible, for key stocks under its management control, where the harvest control rules do not exist. The plan will be developed by the end of the 2016–17 fiscal year. A work plan has been developed to establish precautionary approach harvest control rules for the major stocks, where needed. The plan identifies priorities for fiscal year 2017-18 primarily. We’ve also established timelines for updating the plan before the 2018-19 fiscal year and every subsequent year thereafter until the work is complete.

This staggered approach will allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada to focus on the most pressing areas of concern while, at the same time, ensuring we have an evergreen strategy in place that will guide the completion of the work to develop harvest control rules in the years ahead.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science and Oceans Protection Plan
2.71 For each major fish stock, Fisheries and Oceans Canada should identify the indicators and values that would trigger a full stock assessment earlier than scheduled. As each major stock is assessed, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will establish the indicators and values that would trigger an earlier full assessment during interim years. The Department’s Ecosystems and Oceans Science sector will engage with its advisory arm (that is, the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat) to ensure that all terms of reference for full assessments include the setting of triggers for early assessments. This action is effective October 2016 for every future full stock assessment. This commitment has been met. In September 2016, Ecosystems and Oceans Science sector, through the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, initiated actions to ensure that effective October 2016 all terms of reference for full assessments included the setting of trigger values for early assessments.

Procedures for ensuring that, when appropriate, relevant stock assessments for major stocks include the identification of indicators and trigger values are in place. Guidelines for providing interim-year updates and science advice for multi-year assessments have been developed and are available online. Using this guidance, Regional Science Advice Coordinators are ensuring that the requirement for indicator and trigger setting is included for all relevant stock assessments, when appropriate. Objectives are included in the Terms of Reference that identify the need to set indicators and triggers. Prior to posting the terms of reference on the website, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat at NCR provides an oversight function to ensure that the TORs are fully compliant. At the meeting, chairs are responsible for ensuring that the objectives in the Terms of Reference are met and that the Science Advisory Report identifies indicators and trigger values. All Terms of Reference and Science advisory reports are required to be approved by the regional coordinator prior to posting on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretaria website. Reports that do not contain language about triggers will not be approved and will be sent for revision.

Following finalization of the annual science advisory schedule, all approved fisheries-related science advice requests are screened in relation to this OAG recommendation in order to identify those science advisory processes that must include reference to interim-year updates in the associated Terms of Reference. The results of this screening will be communicated to the Regional Science Advice Coordinators.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science and Oceans Protection Plan
2.80 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should ensure it has allocated adequate resources to develop a system or systems that allow for data availability and comparison to enable more effective and efficient fisheries management. As part of its Application Rationalization Initiative, Fisheries and Oceans Canada launched the Ecosystems and Fisheries Management Systems Integration stream of work in 2015, with the objective of consolidating and integrating systems nationally to fully support business requirements and comply with enabling technology standards by 2020.

The project will involve reviewing and analyzing all data requirements, including national availability, sharing, and reporting capabilities to develop integrated systems that will improve data quality and information management to support decision making. The project will also build a foundation for ongoing Application Portfolio Management and Application Lifecycle Management to improve planning and the ability to meet changing needs.

Preliminary project approval (approximately $24 million over five years) was officially granted in May 2016. The Department will regularly review the adequacy of the project budget and refine cost estimates as the project moves through each approval gate in accordance with the guidelines of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

A project governance structure has been put in place, and monthly dashboard reports including budget forecasts and expenditures will be submitted for review by departmental senior management.

Consolidated systems will be migrated to new IT infrastructure by 2020. The Department will begin ongoing application portfolio management, optimization, and maintenance in the 2020–21 fiscal year.
Ecosystems and Fisheries Management Systems Integration is on track for completion by March 31, 2021.

Ecosystems and Fisheries Management is developing the business requirements necessary to begin production of software for three project streams including authorizations (licensing, permits etc.), quota management, catch and effort.

An integrated plan for the development of a new generation of systems has been developed in collaboration with Information Management and Technology Services. Plans include the development of the technical infrastructure necessary to host systems and meet Shared Services Canada requirements as well as the development of a portfolio of projects necessary to build and roll out new systems as part of a business modernization agenda.

In February and March 2016, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management hosted workshops that included regional system users in order to validate system requirements related to authorization, quota, monitoring and control. Information gathered during these workshops will be used for the development of integrated technical solutions that will support effective and efficient management of fisheries.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Oceans Science and Oceans Protection Plan
2.93 Fisheries and Oceans Canada should improve coordination between regions so that it can better share the fisheries monitoring information needed to manage the northern and Atlantic Greenland halibut stocks. In June 2016, Fisheries and Oceans Canada implemented a plan to improve communication and quota management between its regions that manage the Greenland halibut Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Division 0B fixed gear competitive fishery. As a result, there were no quota overruns in 2016.

The Department will develop and implement a plan to improve sharing of logbook data between Fisheries and Oceans Canada regions to enhance the monitoring of the NAFO Subarea 0 Greenland halibut fishery. The Department will also develop and implement an overall plan to improve the sharing of fishery monitoring information between regions for the management of these stocks. Both plans will be developed and implemented by June 2017.

During the audit, Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided evidence to the CESD audit team regarding the June 2016 plan that Fisheries and Oceans Canada put in place.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has developed and implemented a plan to improve the sharing of logbook data from the NAFO Subarea 0 Greenland Halibut fishery. Implementation has achieved the required improvements for the effective monitoring of the 0B fixed gear competitive fishery.

Thus this commitment, which was due June 2017, has been met.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is on track to develop and implement the overall plan to improve the sharing of fishery monitoring information for the management of the Greenland Halibut stocks by June 2017.
Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management