Status of Major Fish Stocks

Of 155 major fish stocks assessed in 2011 and reported on, 72 stocks (46%) were classified as "healthy." Seventeen stocks (11%) were classified as critical, i.e., the productivity of the stock is considered to be at a level that may cause serious harm to the resource.

Status of major fish stocks, Canada, 2011

Status of major fish stocks, Canada, 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: Fish stocks are classified by comparing the size of stocks to "reference points," which are established based on the productivity of the stock. See Data Sources and Methods for details.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2012) Fishery Checklist v.4.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) uses a variety of scientific methods to assess fish stock levels, and assigns one of three "stock status zones" (healthy, cautious or critical) based on these scientific assessments. The precautionary approachFootnote [1] is used by DFO to manage these fish stocks in such a way that the amount of allowed fish harvesting or approved removal rates are adjusted to keep stocks in the healthy status zone, progressively lowered if the stock is in the cautious zone, and kept to the lowest possible level if the stock is in the critical zone. The results of the stock assessments for major stocks are reported as part of the Fishery Checklist, which is a key planning and monitoring tool.

Fish stocks are classified as "major" based on a set of criteria that considers economic, social and ecological values. All stocks with a landed value of more than $1 million or landed weight of more than 2000 tonnes are included, as are other important stocks (see Data Sources and Methods for details).

Status of Major Fish Stocks, by Stock Group

The status of different stock groups varies due to differences in population productivity, historical exploitation and recovery, among other factors. For example, 83% of crustacean stocks are in healthy condition; many of these stocks have been more productive in recent years due to ecosystem conditions favourable to them. In contrast, 33% of groundfish stocks are in the critical zone; reduced health of these stocks is in part due to historical harvest patterns and other environmental factors.

Status of major fish stocks, by stock group, Canada, 2011

Status of major fish stocks, by stock group, Canada, 2011

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How this indicator was calculated

Note: The species in each stock group are listed with the data for this chart.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2012) Fishery Checklist v.4.

Pelagic fish live in midwater or close to the surface, in contrast to groundfish, which are usually caught near the ocean bottom. Crustaceans are shelled animals with joints, such as lobsters, crab and shrimp. Molluscs include the species we commonly think of as shellfish, such as clams, oysters and mussels.

Differences among groups in the proportion of populations for which the status is "unknown" reflect differences in the information available for their assessment. For example, many of the marine mammal populations are found in the Arctic, where information is as yet limited. DFO and its partners have many programs in place to increase the knowledge base for assessing the status of such stocks.

Related Indicators

Other Information

Theme III: Protecting Nature of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.
This indicator is used to measure progress toward Goal 5: Biological Resources – Efficient economic and ecological use of resources – Production and consumption of biological resources are sustainable of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

The precautionary approach is a framework for resource management when scientific information is uncertain or incomplete, but action must be taken to avoid serious harm to the resource.

Return to footnote 1 referrer