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Introduction to the procedural steps for implementing the Fishery Monitoring Policy

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This document introduces the six-step process for consistent national application of the Fishery Monitoring Policy. Consistency will require that all six steps including the assessment tools be applied to all federally managed fisheries in Canada, over time, on a priority basis. Note that this document does not describe technical details of the assessment tools or their application, and is not intended as final guidance for implementing the policy. DFO will develop further guidance to elaborate on the requirements under the individual steps.

Prioritize fisheries for assessment (Step 1)

DFO Regions will lead the prioritization of fisheries in which the policy will be applied to first, based on criteria such as conservation or compliance concerns, among other considerations. The selection of priority fisheries will be done in collaboration with Indigenous groups and stakeholdersFootnote 1. Each DFO Region will develop a work plan with actions and timelines to apply the policy to the selected fisheries. All fisheries will eventually be examined according to priorities.

Assess the monitoring program (Step 2)

In general, the assessment step will involve: selecting the assessment units, gathering information including Indigenous knowledge on the fishery and its monitoring program, applying the assessment tools, and performing a gap analysis. DFO will undertake the assessment of monitoring programs, which includes the risk screening, assessment of data quality, and the determination of monitoring program dependability, in collaboration with Indigenous groups and stakeholdersFootnote 1.

Risk Screening and Quality and Dependability Assessment

Risk will be examined using the Risk Screening Tool. This tool can consider conservation risk at the fishery level and at the stockFootnote 2 /population level by examining a number of conservation risk factors such as risk to the stock that is the target of the fishery. It also can examine compliance factors in a fishery. Risk scores are generated based on the likelihood of occurrence of a set of established consequences.

Data quality will be examined using the Quality Assessment Tool. This tool quantifies sources of bias and variability associated with a catch estimate derived from a monitoring program. These results can be used to determine whether a monitoring program is adequate to support the achievement of fishery objectives. Where risk is assessed at the stockFootnote 2 /population level, and data quality is assessed in monitoring programs for all fisheries significantly impacting the stockFootnote 2 /population, dependability of the monitoring programs can be determined.

Gap Analysis

Assessors will use the findings of the risk screening and quality and dependability assessment to determine if changes or improvements are needed to the current monitoring objectives, the data requirements, and /or the overall monitoring program. The results will either confirm the adequacy of the monitoring program, or they will help identify areas where improvements are needed to meet the monitoring objectives.

Set monitoring objectives (Step 3)

The results of the gap analysis will be used to adjust or develop conservation and compliance monitoring objectives to address any identified gaps and to meet the fishery goals. Monitoring objectives will guide the selection of monitoring methods, tools, frequency and coverage levels, which are needed to address the risks and achieve the desired level of quality and dependability determined in Step 2. Monitoring objectives must align with the objectives of the Fishery Monitoring Policy. The development of fishery monitoring objectives must also consider factors that affect the complexity of the fishery, such as international agreements requiring specific data, treaty requirements, or complex management regimes such as in-season individual quota transferability.

Fishery managers will develop the objectives in collaboration with Indigenous groups and stakeholdersFootnote 1. The monitoring objectives should be communicated and implemented through the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) process or through other fishery planning processes.

Specify monitoring requirements (Step 4)

Fishery managers will work with Indigenous groups and stakeholdersFootnote 1 to determine the combination of data collection methods, tools, and coverage levels to meet the minimum data requirements to achieve the monitoring objectives. Requirements must be specified for conservation objectives and compliance objectives. The determination of requirements must also consider cost, practicality, and the complexity of the fishery. Other factors to consider include the capacity and resource constraints of subsistence fisheries in remote areas. The monitoring requirements to achieve individual objectives may differ. For example, compliance objectives may require that the coverage level and distribution by area for at-sea monitoring be different than needed to achieve conservation objectives.

If the current monitoring program is deemed adequate following assessment, no changes would be expected. If a gap exists, then DFO will work with the participants to identify corrective actions to improve the monitoring program.

When establishing monitoring requirements, it is also important to consider whether appropriate information management systems are in place to support the new requirements.

Operationalize the monitoring program (Step 5)

Recommendations from the assessment including requirements identified through Step 4 should be documented and implemented through appropriate fishery planning processes, and communicated to fish harvesters. Adjusting or strengthening a monitoring program in an assessed fishery will require close coordination with fish harvesters.

If the proposed monitoring program is not deemed affordable or operationally feasible for fish harvesters or DFO, all alternatives must be explored in order to achieve the monitoring objectives.

Regional work plans identified in Step 1 will outline concrete actions and associated timelines to address the gaps in a timely manner. Some gaps may take longer to address than others, for example, due to technical constraints or resource availability.

Review the fishery monitoring program against the monitoring objectives and report (Step 6)

As noted in Section 10 of the Policy, as part of the IFMP post-season review process, DFO will evaluate the monitoring programs against the monitoring objectives. Where there is evidence that monitoring objectives are not being achieved in a fishery, a plan will be established in collaboration with the fishery participants to take corrective action.

In addition, over the longer term, DFO will track and evaluate progress to achieve the policy objectives and report on the progress.

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