Integrating diverse objectives for sustainable fisheries in Canada

An interdisciplinary team of academics, and representatives of fishing fleets and government collaborated to study the emerging requirements for sustainability in Canada’s fisheries. Fisheries assessment and management has focused on biological productivity with insufficient consideration of social (including cultural), economic and institutional (governance) aspects. Further, there has been little discussion or formal evaluation of the effectiveness of fisheries management. The team of over 50 people 1) identified a comprehensive set of management objectives for a sustainable fishery system based on Canadian policy statements, 2) combined objectives into an operational framework with relevant performance indicators for use in management planning, and 3) undertook case studies which investigated some social, economic and governance aspects in greater detail. The resulting framework extends the suite of widely accepted ecological aspects (productivity and trophic structure, biodiversity, and habitat/ecosystem integrity) to include comparable economic (viability and prosperity, sustainable livelihoods, distribution of access and benefits, regional/community benefits), social (health and wellbeing, sustainable communities, ethical fisheries), and institutional (legal obligations, good governance structure, effective decision-making) aspects of sustainability. This work provides a practical framework for implementation of a comprehensive approach to sustainability in Canadian fisheries. The project also demonstrates the value of co-construction of collaborative research and co-production of knowledge that combines and builds on the strengths of academics, industry and government.