Sustaining Canada's Marine Biodiversity, Fisheries and Communities

Ray Johnson of the citizens group Community Linkages and Fred Winsor of the grass roots organization Sierra Club of Canada, today called upon the United Nations General Assembly and the Food and Agriculture Organization to request that Canada adhere to the precautionary approach, the protection and rebuilding of ocean biodiversity, and sustainable fisheries principles it signed under the November 2006 United Nations Sustainable Fisheries Resolution.

“Despite 20 years of a groundfish moratorium, Canada’s policy towards its oceans and commercial fisheries has failed to change its fisheries management practices and implement a recovery strategy. None of our traditional fisheries have recovered”, stated Chairman Johnson.

“As a consequence of the 1992 Cod Moratorium, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador witnessed an emptying of its coastal communities. Over 60,000 people were forced to resettle to seek employment. Other provinces such as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, and British Columbia also witnessed extensive outmigration’s from their coastal communities because of industrial overfishing combined with completely inadequate management practices”, said Fred Winsor.

Winsor cites, ”International organizations such as the World Economic Forum have rated Canada’s fisheries and oceans management policies as one of the worst in the world. Canada continues to use unsustainable management practices as more species under its control are either decimated or destroyed”.

“Newfoundland and Labrador is now witnessing the same impacts on other fish species. Meanwhile, other countries continue to fish and use no-take or no-fishing zones to restore the ocean’s natural systems. They enjoy the benefits of sustainable management as the ocean areas under their care recovers and their traditional commercial stocks rebuild. We can do the same here. Let us build a fishery that can be sustainable for the next 500 years”, stated Johnson.

“Unfortunately, efforts to rebuild ocean biodiversity have been met with political and bureaucratic indifference and interference as the public participation has been disbanded and the Ocean’s Act remains mainly unused”, noted Winsor.

“Canada has lost its way when it comes to renewable resources, which can provide food needed to support our human population for generations to come. Canada has the capacity to foster long-term sustainability by making adjustments and following agreements it has signed to support and promote long-term sustainability of our oceans and fish stocks”, stated Winsor.

“We believe that the people of our coastal communities are central to finding solutions to develop a responsible, sustainable future for our fishing industry. Rural communities bring detailed knowledge of local marine environments, fishing practices, political structures, and social motivation. For instance, the Fogo Island Coop is the greatest example of how community and fishery stakeholders can cooperate to successfully manage and operate a fishery”, noted Johnson.

Both groups are encouraging coastal communities around the globe to join them as they move forward to pursue the goal of making inshore commercial fisheries and coastal communities sustainable again. They indicate they are in this for the long haul, for present and future generations, that together people can make a real difference and be the change they desire.

“Write a letter and make our case. By so doing the least we can say is that when democracy returns to the halls of power our case will be on file, and when the current regime comes to an end, our pleas might be seen as deserving of careful consideration”, stated Bud Davidge, a Newfoundland and Labrador Music Artist.



Letter to United Nations General Assembly, June 25, 2012

Report in Brief: The Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel — Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture (February 2012)


For more information, contact:

Ray Johnson, Chairman Community Linkages,, 709-584-3624, 709-237-7722

Fred Winsor, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club Canada, 709-738-3781

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