Canada has to stop issuing new commercial fishing licences and stop using the fishery as a make-work program. Those are just two of the conclusions reached in AIMS’ most recent paper, “Fencing the Fishery: A Primer on Ending the Race for Fish” (Canadian edition), by Donald R. Leal.

Dozens of coastal fisheries in Canada are dying from overexploitation and the destructive “race for fish”. Sophisticated vessels and high-tech equipment combat one another to grab the ever-dwindling number of fish.

It’s a formula for disaster that has been repeated on both the east and west coasts of Canada, whether it is cod in the Atlantic or salmon in the Pacific. In Fencing the Fishery, Leal explains how rights-based fisheries make sense both economically and environmentally. It’s a policy supported by the Bush administration in the US, which this week released its Fisheries Bill that adds rights-based fishing in eight additional ocean fisheries by the year 2010.

Fencing the Fishery was originally published by the Property and Environment Research Centre (PERC) in the US, the paper is adapted for Canada by Peter Fenwick and Laura Jones.

Fenwick and Jones show how rights-based fishing policies, including individual transferable quotas (ITQs), territorial rights and private harvesting agreements can reduce the costly and destructive race for fish. The paper analyses each policy and reviews practices in other countries. It shows that while no fisheries management system is perfect, rights based management is proving highly successful in eliminating two major problems plaguing ocean fisheries: overcapitalization and overfishing.

Fenwick and Jones conclude that a number of steps need to be taken to increase the effectiveness of rights based management in Canada:

o Fisheries still managed by effort controls should change to ITQ management.

o Restrictions on trading individual quotas within and between fisheries should be minimized.

o The Department of Fisheries and Ocean should stop issuing new licences and quotas.

o Monitoring and enforcement should be a priority in ITQ fisheries.

o Maximizing employment as an objective of fisheries management must be abandoned.

They conclude that such steps will take us closer to reducing the overexploitation and depletion of ocean resources.


Click here for an electronic copy of the paper.

For further information, contact:

Peter Fenwick

Barbara Pike
AIMS Director of Communications
902-446-3543 – o / 452-1172 – c