Dhaliwal Announces Strong Commitment Torebuild And Protect Rockfish Stocks

Vancouver Â- The Honourable Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and MP for Vancouver-South Burnaby, today announced that strong measures for rebuilding rockfish stocks will be put in place by April 2002 to protect these populations for future generations, particularly for the Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait.

Scientific data reveal that rockfish populations are declining. In addition, a recent Pacific Scientific Advice Review Committee (PSARC) report confirmed that, despite the introduction of some conservation measures, improvements are not evident and more restrictive measures are needed. Given that rockfish live more than a 100 years, have a low productivity and mature slowly, rebuilding these stocks takes a long time and must be carefully managed.

“Significant declines in these populations, coupled with the low productivity rate for these stocks, requires urgent attention and the introduction of conservation restrictions that will reverse declines and ensure stock rebuilding is secured. Achievement of this objective requires a harvest rate of less than two per cent,” Mr. Dhaliwal said.

“Over the coming weeks, my officials will be consulting with commercial and recreational fishers, First Nations and other interested stakeholders to develop a plan that will achieve this target. We need to work together to protect these stocks and the measures we introduce must be able to achieve this target.”

Specific measures that will be considered include the closure of directed rockfish fisheries, reduction of rockfish by-catch, establishment of closed areas for fishing, improvements to catch monitoring and increased stock assessment. Extensive rockfish habitat areas will be closed to all fishing to provide a buffer against scientific uncertainty and existing catch data gaps, and for the essential protection and rebuilding of rockfish stocks. These measures are also expected to provide needed protection for lingcod stocks.

The life history and biological characteristics of rockfish and lingcod also make stock assessment difficult. Many stock assessment tools used in other fisheries cannot be applied to rockfish and lingcod. To better understand these fish and their distribution, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will increase its current information base on this species. A stock assessment framework for inshore rockfish is expected to be developed by December 2002. Increased catch monitoring programs will be necessary to assist in providing stock assessment data and enable assessment of harvest rates.

In November 2001, a multi-disciplinary workshop on inshore rockfish was held in Nanaimo. There was wide consensus on the importance of developing and implementing conservation measures to protect these groundfish species. The details of these measures, including specific locations, size, and timing of potential closed areas, will be determined through a consultative process throughout the Winter/Spring, 2002.

The department is committed to ensuring the sustainability of British ColumbiaÂ’s groundfish fisheries. With input from harvesters and other interests, appropriate management measures will be put in place to protect and rebuild these species of concern in order to provide sustainable benefits for Canadians in the future.

“I wish to emphasize the importance I attach to rockfish conservation. I am hopeful that the departmentÂ’s consultation process will result in agreement on a suite of measures, by this April, which will meet the target of less than two per cent harvest rate. If this is not the case, I am prepared to unilaterally impose the necessary management measures by April 2002,” Mr. Dhaliwal added.

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For more information contact:

Paul Macgillivray
Director, Fisheries Management
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
(604) 666-0753
Colin Masson
Chair, Rockfish Conservation Team
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
(250) 616-9715

Heather Bala
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
(613) 996-0076




BG-PR-01-025E – DEC. 14, 2001

BG-PR-01-026E – DEC. 14, 2001

BG-PR-01-027E – DEC. 14, 2001