Resource: DFO-Minister Tootoo Briefing Documents Released

Document prepared by DFO for Minister of Fisheries Hunter Tootoo (recently released under the Access to Information Act) provide insight about how the Feds look at fisheries–from economics to conservation, aboriginal rights to aquaculture. It’s basically an introductory backgrounder on DFO, the Coast Guard, and his role as the minister.


(note: page may be slow to load as it is a 500-page file).

The 500-page document includes a lot of detail, and some messages are of concern.  A significant part is focused on reaching new fisheries and aquaculture markets. Many of the recent and upcoming trade agreements (e.g., TPP and CETA) are detailed, particularly how they could facilitate fisheries and aquaculture growth. What isn’t discussed in detail are the pressures these expanding markets will place on existing wild fish stocks.

Very little is mentioned on implementing the Cohen Commission recommendations. Only one short page (192) is dedicated to the $37 million inquiry and its findings, and the framing is in a manner similar to the last federal government. Unfortunately, the document describes the investigation’s conclusions like a t.v. whodunnit by perpetuating a simplistic message that there was no “smoking gun” found to explain the decline in sockeye salmon. Wild salmon populations are incredibly complex, frequently affected by multiple stressors; hence, it is not surprising one single factor isn’t to blame.

Some point-worthy items in the briefing include:

  • Mention of a program to develop “world class tanker safety” (page 70)
  • “Challenges…Our infrastructure is ageing, expensive to maintain and risk falling below international standards…core fisheries and oceanographic monitoring resources have atrophied” (page 91)
  • “There is a robust and developing legal framework for addressing Aboriginal rights.” (page 92)
  • “Conservation concerns are resulting in the proliferation of unilateral national traceability schemes…creating confusion and unpredictability for exporters and an administration burden for the government.” (page 144)
  • Mention growing opportunities and the increasing global demand for aquaculture (page 149)
  • The risks of open-net salmon farming highlighted by the Cohen Commission are largely dismissed. (page 192)
  • Marine Protected Areas and a “world class tanker safety system” are discussed as near term activities. (page 213)
  • A significant challenge is highlighted: “ecosystems are changing and DFO Science will be challenged to increasingly provide advice in this context with limited predictive capacity.” (page 293)


Related news story: 

Tootoo urged to promote TPP and billions in seafood exports, briefings show

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