Sustainable Fisheries Framework

The Sustainable Fisheries Framework provides the basis for ensuring Canadian fisheries are conducted in a manner which support conservation and sustainable use. It incorporates existing fisheries management policies with new and evolving policies. The framework also includes tools to monitor and assess those initiatives geared towards ensuring an environmentally sustainable fishery, and identifies areas that may need improvement. Overall, the Sustainable Fisheries Framework provides the foundation of an ecosystem-based and precautionary approach to fisheries management in Canada.

The Sustainable Fisheries Framework was developed through engagement with resource users and others with an interest in sustainable fisheries. Combined with reforms to socio-economic policies and initiatives, the Sustainable Fisheries Framework is a key instrument in developing environmentally sustainable fisheries that also support economic prosperity in the industry and fishing communities.

The Framework comprises two main elements: (1) conservation and sustainable use policies, and (2) planning and monitoring tools.

(1) Conservation and Sustainable Use policies incorporate precautionary and ecosystem approaches into fisheries management decisions to ensure continued health and productivity of Canada’s fisheries and healthy fish stocks, while protecting biodiversity and fisheries habitat. Combined, these policies demonstrate Canada’s commitment to the principles of ecosystem-based fisheries management. These policies include:

Other DFO conservation and sustainable use policies which support the Sustainable Fisheries Framework include:

Over time, new policies may be added to the Sustainable Fisheries Framework on other relevant topics such as top fish predators in marine ecosystems and the impact of lost fishing gears.

(2) The application of the sustainable use policies will be implemented into the fisheries management process through various Planning and Monitoring Tools. Integrated Fisheries Management Plans identify goals related to conservation, management, enforcement, and science for individual fisheries; and they describe access and allocations among various fish harvesters and fleet areas. The plans also incorporate biological and socio-economic considerations that are factored into harvest decisions. Integrated Fisheries Management Plans are an important reporting tool, and a valuable source of information on a given fishery for fisheries managers, industry, and other resource users. They also include a requirement to conduct a regular review of the fishery against the plan’s objectives. In addition, self-diagnostic tools like the Fishery Checklist (a tool for internal use) can help the Department monitor improvements that support sustainable fisheries, and identify areas of weakness that require further work.

Phased approach to implementation of the Framework

Sustainable development is the lens through which Fisheries and Oceans Canada undertakes its business. While applying the policies and tools of the Sustainable Fisheries Framework into the decision-making process for each fishery, DFO ensures that the biological and socio-economic consequences of all proposed management measures are considered. The policies and tools will also be linked to broader integrated management processes, such as the planning forums for managing sections of Canada’s oceans known as Large Ocean Management Areas.

The Framework and its policies will be implemented progressively over time. The phased-in approach will be done according to the priorities identified through fishery planning sessions held across DFO regions beginning in 2009. The implementation of the framework, including changes to harvest arrangements, will be the subject of engagement with Aboriginal groups. The Framework will also continue to evolve as new policies and tools are created.

The implementation process will use adaptive management principles, whereby experience applying the policies to fisheries management will guide future applications. The Department will also review implementation progress after three years and use ‘lessons learned’ to make any necessary adjustments.

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