Challenges confronting tuna fisheries are the same ones causing depleted fish stocks in oceans around the world – illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, failure to follow scientific advice, inadequate management regimes, and overcapacity.
Canada is a strong advocate for basing decisions on the advice of science. Fishers of tuna report their catches to the organizations that are responsible for management and scientific study. In turn, these management bodies share catch information with each other.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working to build stronger bilateral and multilateral relationships with tuna fishing nations, and to rebuild public confidence in the current tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO) governance structure. We are also advocating for the improvement and expansion of market-based tools, such as catch documentation schemes, that help to prevent illegally caught tuna from entering legal markets.
Canada’s priorities for high seas tuna stocks will continue to be RFMO reform, addressing overcapacity in the global tuna fleet, maintaining the Canada-U.S Albacore treaty and improving compliance and control in tuna fisheries. We will also continue to press for more information sharing and collaboration amongst tuna management organizations.
Stock management in Canada
The health and sustainability of tuna fish stocks depend not only on how countries regulate fishing within their own territorial waters, but also on activities outside their borders. Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are the legal entities which bring fishing nations and entities together to accomplish conservation and sustainable management of straddling, highly migratory and high seas discrete stocks.
The United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) is a key tool that is helping the international community raise the global standard for the sustainable management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. Canada has long been a key player in the development of this Agreement, to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of coastal nation’s fish resources.
Canada is committed to a sustainable fisheries management approach that is based on science and sound conservation principles. We will continue to work with international counterparts to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries as well as to develop strong by-catch rules.
This work is done through Canada’s membership in the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, through bilateral intiatives with the United States, and through trilateral efforts with the U.S. and Mexico in the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Canada also participates as an observer in the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. One of Canada’s goals is to strenghten RFMOs and ensure effective cooperation among them.
Canada’s actions and recommendations
Collaboration and enforcement can significantly shift the future direction of fisheries governance and make a real difference for tuna stocks. Whether it is the Kobe Course of Action, capacity building endeavours or closely enforcing the rules and regulations pertaining to tuna harvesting within its boundaries, Canada is committed to the sustainability of the tuna fisheries.