Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How We Fish Matters: Addressing the Ecological Impacts of Canadian Fishing Gear

The Living Oceans Society, Ecology Action Centre, and Marine Conservation Biology Institute have released a study that ranks the impacts of 13 different gear types used for fishing in Canada. This study was completed in three stages: first, there was a
Skates - Photo courtesy of John Driscoll
literature review of existing scientific studies on the impacts of fishing gear; next, a rating of the impacts of fishing gear by fishermen, scientists, and conservation professionals; and finally a survey of 97 professionals from different sectors working with fisheries where respondents ranked the ecological impacts of 13 different gear types.

This study found that bottom trawl, bottom gillnet, dredge, and bottom longline are the gears that cause the greatest impact on habitat and discarded bycatch. Harpoon, dive, and hook and line are the fishing methods that result in the least impacts on habitat and discarded bycatch.

The main recommendations (taken directly from the study) are as follows:

1. Fisheries managers should immediately implement ecologically risk averse strategies to minimize the impacts of fishing gear on habitat and bycatch. These strategies include habitat protection, and access to fishing grounds and quota allocations based on gear substitution.

2. Adequate monitoring, research and data collection on fishing gear impacts to habitat and non-target species must be undertaken, and made publicly available, to support ecosystem and spatial management practices.

3. Implement, inform and develop policies and management practices that prioritize the minimization of habitat destruction and incidental catch and discarding of target and non-target species.

You can access the LOS press release, and the full report on the LOS website.

You can also read the media coverage of this report in:
Globe and Mail
Vancouver Sun
National Post
The Canadian Press
Times Colonist

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