Media Release: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is failing British Columbia’s salmon

Canada’s Pacific salmon fishery is forced to withdraw from a renowned eco-certification
to avoid failing its upcoming audit

VANCOUVER —Canada’s Pacific salmon fishery is losing its coveted Marine Stewardship
Council eco-certification because Fisheries and Oceans Canada, despite repeated
commitments, failed to address issues identified with outstanding conditions in independent
fishery audits. The industry has chosen to pre-emptively withdraw from the international
certification to avoid failing its upcoming audit and having its certification removed.
MSC recertified B.C.’s commercial salmon fishery in 2017, subject to DFO addressing
outstanding conditions where the fishery does not meet the MSC standard. These conditions
required improvements to fishery monitoring, better stock assessments and reducing impacts on
wild salmon populations from harvesting hatchery-raised salmon. An independent 2018 audit
reported 40 per cent of these conditions were behind target.

“MSC sets a very low bar for wild salmon sustainability,” says Watershed Watch Salmon Society
executive director Aaron Hill.

“MSC only certifies whether the management system provides for a sustained harvest,” says
Raincoast Conservation Foundation wild salmon program director Misty MacDuffee. “It does not
certify whether the fishery meets the needs of ecosystems, bears, whales and other wildlife, or
whether it is sustainable in the face of climate change.”

“The inability to meet even minimum standards for sustainability is an indictment of Ottawa’s
management of B.C.’s salmon,” says Greg Taylor, a fisheries consultant and former industry
executive. “The loss of MSC certification will be particularly noted in major European markets
where many retailers require it. It will also mean programs like Ocean Wise, SeaChoice and
Seafood Watch will no longer be able to recommend B.C. as a sustainable source of wildcaught

“We can’t fish responsibly if we don’t know how many fish are making it back to their streams to
spawn,” says Greg Knox from SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, highlighting the erosion of
monitoring of B.C.’s salmon populations over the past decade — a key problem identified by the
MSC. “The only real surprise is it took MSC this long to determine DFO’s management system
did not meet its requirements for a sustainable fishery.”

“A benefit of the MSC certification is that it requires the fishery to address key gaps, including
lack of monitoring, dealing with the risks of hatcheries and protecting salmon biodiversity,” says
David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy analyst Jeffery Young. “Despite having
close to a decade to act, the government has failed to deliver on its promises to help the B.C.
fishery meet certification requirements.”


Greg Taylor
FishFirst Consulting

Jeffery Young
David Suzuki Foundation

Misty MacDuffee
Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Greg Knox
SkeenaWild Conservation Trust

Aaron Hill
Watershed Watch Salmon Society

PDF of Media Release and Backgrounder

Media Inquiries

For inquiries or to join our media list, please contact:

Meghan Rooney
Science and Communications Coordinator 604-762-5608

Go to Top