Canada and Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fish species are harvested at an unsustainable rate (Kennedy, 2014). The rate is deemed unsustainable when fish is harvested faster than they are able to reproduce and maintain its populations. Continued overfishing depletes fish stocks and, in extreme cases, can cause the extinction of a species. Overfished stocks require fishing efforts to be managed to provide time for the stocks to recover.
Commercial fisheries that actively participate in overfishing are jeopardizing the future of the commercial fishing industry. Eliminating overfishing begins with the management and conservation of fish stocks to ensure that fishing activities are targeting healthy stocks while overfished stocks are allowed time to recover. Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) attempt to manage and conserve high seas, straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. The goal of these organizations is a sustainable, science-based management approach achieved through effective relations with international partners. Canada’s leadership role is in enforcement of sustainable practices, accountable decision making on responsible fishing, and maintaining effective and collaborative relations with participating members in the various RFMOs (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2011).
Causes of Overfishing
The RFMOs rely on accurate catch data and records of fishing activities from vessels and fisheries to effectively manage tuna stocks. Major threats to the RFMO’s efforts to manage this are vessels that participate in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. IUU fishing activities are purely based on profit with no concern for the future of the fishing industry. Catch data and fishing activities that go unreported cause gaps in crucial data which are used to sustainably manage tuna stocks. IUU fishing activities contribute to overfishing and the seafood industry has focused efforts on eradicating these practices (Miguel Jorge, 2014).
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is a global organization composed of leading scientists, members of the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, all of who are focused on promoting science-based initiatives for the long term health of tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health. The ISSF is part of a powerful coalition that is striving to completely eradicate IUU fishing in the tuna industry (ISSF, 2014). The ISSF currently requires all of its participating members (including processors, traders and importers) to forgo any transactions with fishing vessels that exhibit any of the following characteristics:
- flagged by countries not participating in their RFMO
- not authorized by an RFMO
- currently on an RFMO’s IUU list (Miguel Jorge, 2014)
Clover Leaf and Overfishing
Clover Leaf has implemented sustainability policies which make it possible to source over 95% of its products sustainably, with efforts ongoing to realize the goal of sourcing all of its products sustainably (The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family, 2014). As a founding member of the ISSF, Clover Leaf is working extensively to ensure the fisheries it sources from are responsible and have sustainable fishing practices in place. In the case that a fishery lacks data and/or sustainable fishing practices, Clover Leaf will work with the fishery and incentivize the development of sustainability standards moving forward.
Overfishing is an issue that affects everyone – from businesses to consumers. The future of the fishing industry depends on the sustainable use of fishing stocks moving forward and the eradication of overfishing.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2011, September 3). Regional Fisheries Management Organizations. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/international/dip-rfmo-eng.htm
ISSF. (2014). Our Story. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from International Seafood Sustainability Foundation: http://iss-foundation.org/our-story/
Kennedy, J. (2014). Overfishing. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from About.com: http://marinelife.about.com/od/glossary/g/overfishingdef.htm
Miguel Jorge. (2014, July 2). ISSF: A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ENDING IUU. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from ISSF: http://iss-foundation.org/2014/07/03/issf-a-holistic-approach-to-ending-iuu/
The Clover Leaf Seafoods Family. (2014). FAQ - What does 'sustainable seafood' mean? Retrieved October 1, 2014, from Clover Leaf: http://www.cloverleaf.ca/en/faq/sustainability