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A fisheries lesson not learned Add to ...

Canada's rank as 125th out of 127 for fisheries conservation is no surprise (Taking The Measure Of This Country's Environmental Performance - Jan. 29). Still known for the collapse of the once-abundant cod stocks, Canada hasn't learned its lesson. Cod populations continue at record lows, yet the fishery is opened, somewhere on the Atlantic Coast, every year.

With no legally binding targets for stock recovery, the laws governing fisheries and oceans in Canada permit wanton destruction. Effective lobbying by the large-scale fishing industry for more fish, bigger boats, more gear, more exploratory fishing in new areas has clearly trumped conservation. Long-term socio-economic interests are not a priority.

One might wonder how it is that a country graced with three oceans can so badly fail at protecting them.

In Atlantic Canada, ITQs (catch shares) have simply allowed for quota monopolies, mostly by large trawl fleets. A back-to-basics approach is desperately needed, with a return to low-impact fishing gear, no-take areas and strict rebuilding targets. The U.S. has set 75 per cent of its federal waters off limits for bottom trawling - and Canada funds the expansion of bottom trawling fleets into the Arctic.

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