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Canada’s sustainable fisheries

In 2018, Canada exported a record $6.9 billion in fish and seafood products. Learn how we manage our fisheries to ensure continued prosperity and sustainability for the future.

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About sustainability

Sustainable fisheries mean harvesting and farming fish stocks in a way that meets our present needs without compromising the ability to meet our future needs.

Canada ensures our fisheries remain sustainable by making decisions that consider the connection between environmental, economic and social issues.

Approximately 72,000 Canadians make their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities. So, while conservation remains our top priority, we also support an economically prosperous fishery that can:

We work to secure the future of our fisheries through sustainable and responsible fisheries management that:

Model for sustainable management

A successful model for sustainable fisheries management relies on 5 areas, which are:

  1. planning
  2. making science-based decisions
  3. managing environmental impacts
  4. enforcing the rules
  5. monitoring results


Management plans are our main tool for ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources. They guide economically viable and environmentally sustainable fisheries.

A management plan includes important considerations for all aspects of the fishery, such as:

Management plans include all the factors that lead to good decision making.

Making science-based decisions

Our scientists are involved in some of the most advanced national and international research activities taking place in oceans and freshwater today. This includes studying large areas of the ocean to learn how all the elements of an ecosystem are affected by human activities, such as fishing.

We rely on the latest data and scientific advice to make important decisions for the sustainable management of Canadian fisheries. To create management plans that regulate size limits, quotas, seasons and gear, managers require information on:

Good decision making comes from collaboration, which is why our scientists work closely with:

Our scientists also participate in regional fisheries management organizations to share and improve global scientific research and knowledge. These include the:

Managing environmental impacts

The operation of fisheries affects ocean and freshwater ecosystems. We aim for a balance that serves the needs of Canadians while managing environmental impacts.

When managing fisheries in Canada, we consider the effects of the fishery on the ecosystem, including:

Enforcing the rules

Canada spends approximately $130 million annually on monitoring, control and enforcement across Canada. We have one of the most advanced programs in the world.

Key elements of this program include:

Monitoring results

Fisheries and the environment change frequently. This is why management plans are regularly reviewed to ensure that fisheries are sustainable and environmentally responsible.

We monitor progress in meeting conservation, management and overall sustainability goals.

Top 10 global exports

Our continued focus on sustainable management has made fish and seafood among Canada’s largest exports of food products.

The following list shows Canada’s most valuable fishery exports for 2018, which reached 139 countries worldwide.

Other sustainable exports include the following.

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