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Data Sources and Methods for the Sustainable Fish Harvest Indicator


The Sustainable Fish Harvest indicator is part of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program, which provides data and information to track Canada’s performance on key environmental sustainability issues. This indicator is also used to measure progress towards the goals and targets of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

The long-term maintenance of the ecological, social and economic value of fish stocks requires controlling harvest to avoid overexploitation. In partnership with industry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada implements plans, policies and programs to protect stocks, assist in long-term sustainability, and provide for the fair allocation and distribution of harvestable surpluses among those dependent on the resource, in accordance with the precautionary approach.Footnote [1] The Sustainable Fish Harvest indicator measures compliance with harvest limits as a measure of pressures on wild fish stocks.

Established harvest limits can be exceeded due to a number of factors, including short-time-frame competitive fisheries and unforeseen bycatch.Footnote [2] Fishing is monitored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and corrective actions are taken to address situations as they arise. Actions include implementing moratoria on fishing when necessary and adjusting harvest limits, to ensure conservation is not compromised. Quota reconciliation is also implemented for most stocks, which provides that any overharvest of a stock in one year is deducted from the harvest limit established for the following year.


Footnote 1

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2009) A Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach. Retrieved on 11 July, 2014.

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Footnote 2

"Bycatch" is the part of a catch that is not the target of the fishery. It is caught incidentally during the fishing activity.

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