The Canadian salmon farming industry is behind the country joining 13 other world leaders in a pledge to sustainably manage 100 percent of its oceans by 2025, continuing Justin Trudeau's
Liberal Party campaign promise to create an environmentally sustainable ocean economy for Canada.
The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) put forth the agenda Wednesday, with a goal to protect 30 million square kilometers of national waters globally from overfishing– an area the size of Africa.
"Having the world’s longest coastline, Canada recognizes that our economy and our well-being are deeply connected with the health of our oceans, and that we have a responsibility to protect them," Trudeau said.
Canada has already affirmed as part of that commitment to protect 30 percent of its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial waters by 2030. Earlier in July the Canadian prime minister threw support behind the measure.
Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) President and CEO Tim Kennedy, a member of the Advisory Network to the Ocean Panel which created the goal, lauded the decision Wednesday.
“Being involved with the High Level Panel’s Advisory Network has impressed me with their deep research agenda and concrete recommendations," he said. "Canada can and should be playing a leading global role to realize the opportunity of the Blue Economy. Seafood – both farmed and wild – will play a central and increasingly important role in realizing human and planetary health. Our world and Canada will benefit greatly with acting on these recommendations.”
His support was echoed by Canada's major salmon farmers on the country's West Coast, including Cermaq and Mowi Canada West.
A different story in the US
While leaders of Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal and Norway have committed to the ocean panel's recommendations, lawmakers and seafood industry members in the US remain skeptical of approaching ocean sustainability in the same way.
Earlier this month US lawmakers debated whether to move forward with legislation that would create Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) prohibiting commercial fishing across at least 30 percent of the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by 2030.
Prior to the lawmakers' hearing, more than 800 members of the US seafood industry signed a letter, going into significant detail about how MPAs would harm preservation efforts under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Ray Hilborn, A professor for the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, testified against portions of the bill during the hearing, questioning MPAs as a way to achieve climate goals.
He noted "marine protected areas are simply the wrong tool for adapting to climate change" as they would neither protect sensitive habitats or non-target species, such as birds and mammals.
Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman with National Fisheries Institute (NFI), told IntraFish the Ocean Panel commitment should not affect US actions.
"This is a country by county determination," Gibbons told IntraFish. "An EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) is, by definition, exclusive to the country making determinations about their fisheries management. So, the Canadian effort would not have a direct impact on US policy."
NFI President John Connelly came out strongly against MPAs earlier this month citing such a measure "disregards generations of science-based work and community consensus."