Canada’s Staged Approach to New and Developing Fisheries: Concept and Practice

Canada’s Staged Approach to New and Developing Fisheries: Concept and Practice

R. Ian Perry, Rita Purdon, Graham Gillespie, and Edwin Blewett

Canada’s Staged Approach to New and Developing Fisheries: Concept and PracticeThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Description

As participation in established fisheries in the Northeast Pacific has decreased due to declines in fish stocks, there have been increasing requests for new fisheries on unexploited species and for the expansion of fisheries on lightly exploited species. In the late 1990s Fisheries and Oceans Canada developed an approach for evaluating proposals for new fisheries and providing scientific advice to fisheries managers when little information was available on the proposed target species. This approach involved four stages: (1) compiling existing information; (2) collecting new information; (3) exploration via a small commercial fishery; and (4) a full-scale commercial fishery. To date, 24 species have been assessed in the Pacific Region using this approach, including invertebrates, small pelagic finfishes, and groundfishes. Experiences using this approach have shown that development of new fisheries can proceed in an orderly manner while preventing overcapitalization and subsequent "gold-rush" fisheries. This approach also builds partnerships between fishery assessment and regulatory agencies and fishing proponents. Valuable biological information is collected prior to or at the start of a fishery, which is essential to fully understand the subsequent impacts of fishing. A multiyear time perspective must be accepted that allows industry to develop a business plan which evaluates market and environmental variability and their impacts on profitability. The biggest hurdle to the approach is the high cost of field studies without a guarantee that a new fishery will result. With the increasing and contradictory demands for access to marine resources and for conservation of these resources globally, the scientific, policy, and implementation experiences of developing new fisheries on Canada's Pacific Coast are an important contribution.

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