Sierra Club Canada calls for closed zones to foster cod recovery

James McLeod
The Telegram
Date published: 
Sat, 2012-02-04

Fred Winsor says he's happy to see vindication from national science panel calling for sweeping changes to Canada's fisheries managment policies.

Winsor, the conservation chair for Sierra Club, said that he's been saying for a while the federal government's efforts to foster cod stocks just aren't working.

"I've lost track of the number of letters I've written to ministers of fisheries, asking to have various areas closed for marine protected areas and, you know, moving away from single-species management and looking at ecosystems," Winsor said. "It's the Fisheries Department itself; they've been given good information and the research is there, but they refuse to acknowledge it."

The panel, established by the Royal Society of Canada, said earlier this week the government needs to focus more on biodiversity, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans needs to change its legislation to remove the "czar-like" powers held by the minister.

Speaking to The Telegram Friday, Winsor echoed those sentiments.

"Everything has to go through the minister of fisheries," he said. "Every decision becomes highly politicized, and so even though he may have good information and all of that, there's political pressure on the minister to not make the right decision, to not make the tough decision."

At its core, Winsor said Canada needs to set up substantial marine protected areas, that are absolutely off limits for any kind of fishing.

Only with completely untouched zones will the full ocean ecosystem rebound, he said.

"This is well documented around the world. It's not the first report that's come up that's said this," he said. "You see all these other countries are there - Denmark, Norway and the European Union - and they all have recovery of some degree or another, on the other side of the Atlantic."

In Norway, he said, there is 1.1 million square kilometres of protected ocean, and it harvests 700,000 tonnes of cod annually.

In Newfoundland, Winsor said, we have only one or two square kilometres of protected ocean.


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