Application of the sustainable fisheries framework through the integrated fisheries management planning process

Establishing the Sustainable Fisheries Framework for decision making does not mean that all fisheries will be managed the same way. Individual fisheries are just too different. Policies under the Framework will be applied based upon the particularities of each fishery and the priorities identified by regional fisheries managers across Canada.

Integrated Fisheries Management Plans are the primary resource management tool through which the Framework’s policies are applied. Fisheries managers, through engagement with industry and other interested parties, will begin by determining which fisheries require the most attention. Priorities may be determined based on a number of factors such as the identification of a common gap across similar fisheries, requirements for fishery eco-certification, domestic and international commitments, personnel or funding capacity at the Department, and industry readiness.

Once the priorities are set, management actions for a fishery will be determined in collaboration with stakeholders using the new Integrated Fisheries Management Plan template, which incorporates the following:

  1. An overview of the fishery.
  2. The stock assessment and status, including ecosystem interactions, available information on precautionary approach references, and stock trends.
  3. Economics of the fishery, including the socio-economic profile and market trends.
  4. Management issues, including depleted species concerns, oceans and habitat considerations, and gear impacts.
  5. Access and allocation elements, including any sharing arrangements.
  6. Short- and long-term sustainable fisheries objectives for stock conservation, the ecosystem, shared stewardship and collaboration, socio-economic factors, and compliance.
  7. Management measures for the duration of the plan, including total allowable catch, fishing seasons and areas, control and monitoring of the harvest, decision rules, licensing, requirements of the Species at Risk Act,and habitat protection measures.
  8. The compliance plan.
  9. A performance review of management objectives.

When a significant change in the management regime is being considered, a socio-economic analysis may be undertaken to understand the full implications of the change, such as when a an area is being considered for closure to a fishery to protect a sensitive sea-floor feature.

A Framework for Socio-Economic Analysis to Inform Integrated Fisheries Management Planning and Harvest Decisions

Applying the Sustainable Fisheries Framework Policies

Two examples of Potential Scenarios
Incorporating the Precautionary Approach
Discussions during the regional management advisory process may identify the need to establish harvest decision rules compliant with the precautionary approach for a specific stock (or a group of stocks) as a priority. A science-led process is then initiated, in collaboration with fishery managers and fish harvesters, to identify the reference points for the stock.  These points include the upper stock reference point defining the boundary between the healthy and cautious zones, the limit reference point defining the boundary between the cautious and critical zones, and the removal references or maximum removal rate.

Guided by the lower and upper stock reference points and removal references identified for the stock, harvest decision rules are then developed for the stock through a collaborative process with fish harvesters, led by fishery managers. These harvest decision rules describe the management actions that will be taken under different stock conditions to ensure that the stock does not decline to a low level.

The reference points and harvest decision rules are then included in the integrated fisheries management plan, and the fishery is managed accordingly. If new information is made available, the rules and reference points are reviewed.

Managing the Impact of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas
Several species have been historically fished in an area off the Pacific coast. While reviewing available data and information on the benthic habitat types and features (communities, species and habitat) and fishing activity in the area, fisheries managers and scientists identify a sensitive type of sponge reef. DFO conducts a risk analysis using available data and information on both the sponge reef and the fishing activity to determine the potential for serious or irreversible harm to the reef from fishing activity.

Fish harvesters and other interested groups are consulted throughout the data collection and risk analysis process. The Department’s new fisheries management risk analysis framework is used to guide the risk analysis process.

Fisheries managers, resource users, and others with an interest in the resource discuss the results of the risk analysis and potential management options. Among the management options to avoid serious or irreversible harm to the sponge reef are the establishment of a closure for a specific area, and the substitution of other gear types. Following these discussions with stakeholders, specific measures are identified by the Department, and are incorporated into the integrated fisheries management plan for the affected fisheries. Where necessary, these measures are also outlined in licence conditions. The effectiveness of these management measures are monitored and evaluated to determine whether changes are required