Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
The Minister of the Environment has recommended, on the advice of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, that the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna not be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the “List”) set out in Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (“SARA”).
Adding the species to the List would result in significant and immediate socio-economic impacts on industry due to the application of the general prohibitions. If it is not listed under SARA, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (“ABT”) will continue to be managed under the Fisheries Act.
Listing the ABT as endangered under SARA and the subsequent closure of the directed and by-catch fisheries, including commercial harvesting, charter boat and Aboriginal commercial-communal fisheries, would result in significant socio-economic impacts on industry and communities in the region, including Aboriginal communities. The non-listing option received support from most of those who responded during consultations during the information-gathering stage, including the majority of the provinces, Aboriginal organizations and potentially impacted stakeholders.
As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (“ICCAT”) recommends the annual total allowable catch (“TAC”) and allocates it among contracting parties, including Canada, listing the species under SARA would not be expected to have a significant positive impact on the species, since the closure of the Canadian fishery could result in ICCAT reallocating or transferring the Canadian quota to other countries, resulting in no net decrease in fishing mortality for ABT. Furthermore, some of the other contracting parties to ICCAT do not have the comprehensive tagging and dockside monitoring requirements that the Canadian fishery has and, therefore, reallocated quota may not be as tightly monitored. Additionally, the Canadian fishery provides key indexes of abundance for the assessment of the stock, which would be lost if the fishery were discontinued.
Since the publication of the assessment and status report of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (“COSEWIC”) in 2011, the ABT population has been re-evaluated by ICCAT and a full stock assessment was undertaken in 2014. Based on this most recent assessment, ICCAT noted that the western stock has been increasing in recent years, and the biomass is projected to continue to increase under current catches (2015 global TAC: 2 000 t).
If the species is not listed under SARA, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to manage, under the Fisheries Act, the recommended annual TAC allocated by ICCAT. It will implement a set of management measures to address the needs of the species, in particular through prioritizing the drafting of an updated Integrated Fisheries Management Plan that is consistent, to the extent possible, with the national Sustainable Fisheries Framework (“SFF”); will undertake a risk assessment of current catch monitoring for each of the existing fleets that harvest ABT; will review at-sea observer coverage levels in the fleets that interact with ABT and will review existing monitoring documents to identify necessary amendments or additions to improve data collection in both the directed and incidental-catch fisheries. This may lead to more accurate post-release mortality estimates and additional ecological benefits due to increased knowledge of the species and its interaction with the ecosystem.
Yellowmouth Rockfish (Sebastes reedi)
The Minister of the Environment has recommended, on the advice of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, that the Yellowmouth Rockfish not be added to the List set out in Schedule 1 to SARA
Adding the species to the List would result in significant and immediate negative socio-economic impacts on industry due to the triggering of the general prohibitions and the incremental benefits would likely be small.
If it is not listed under SARA, the Yellowmouth Rockfish will continue to be managed under the Fisheries Act as part of the integrated groundfish fishery. Current management measures in this fishery include the establishment of individual transferable quotas and TAC provisions guided by scientific advice and the SFF, mandatory 100% at-sea and dockside monitoring, and accountability for all rockfish catches (released and retained).
Since the implementation of the Commercial Groundfish Integration Program in 2006, all reported rockfish catches have remained within the prescribed TAC and conservation objectives for rockfish have been met. Additional management measures will be implemented to enhance existing mechanisms, including more frequent updates to stock assessments to enable timely implementation of management measures under the Fisheries Act. As the current harvest is 1% of the current biomass and the Yellowmouth Rockfish is considered to be in the healthy zone of the SFF, no changes to the TAC are proposed at this time. If the population falls below the healthy zone, the TAC will be adjusted based on updated scientific information. These management measures can achieve the conservation outcomes associated with the species.
- SI/2019-81, s. 1(F)
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