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Data Sources and Methods for the Sustainable Fish Harvest Indicator

4. Methods

The indicator is a simple tabulation of stocks based on whether harvest levels are within removal reference levels, within other harvest limits, or over harvest limits.

The removal reference is an approach for determining the maximum acceptable removal rate. The removal rate is the ratio of all human-induced removals and the total exploitable stock size. The removal reference is determined when there is sufficient historical data on stock productivity to allow those levels to be estimated analytically. It is adjusted based on the stock's abundance and its location in the three stock status zones defined in federal policy (i.e., healthy, cautious and critical zones; see the Status of Major Fish Stocks indicator for more information on stock status). With this approach, managers report whether the harvest rate is above or below the reference level.

All components of the precautionary approach have not been implemented fully for all stocks and there are many different fisheries management measures in place. These measures depend on the species, area, gear used, seasons, stock assessments, and other factors.

Allowable harvest rates, whether or not a removal reference has been established, are determined by Fisheries and Oceans Canada based on science assessments, the condition of the stock, and economic and social considerations. The overall goal is always conservation, responsible and sustainable harvesting practices, and equitable distribution of the resource among user groups.

Stock groups used for reporting on this indicator are marine mammals, salmonids, groundfish, large pelagics, small pelagics, crustaceans (crab, lobster and shrimp), molluscs, and others. Each group comprises species with similar life history characteristics. For example, groundfish spend their adult life at or near the bottom of the ocean. The same groupings are used in the Status of Major Fish Stocks indicator.

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