Protection Zones: One Size Does Not Fit All

Where fisheries closures arise, supporting scientific data is curiously absent. Last week we outlined the seven components of the North American Conservation Model. Included in that list are three crucial guidelines: that regulations be based on sound science, that the public have sustainable access to public lands, and that public resources be effectively and sustainably managed. When used as intended, Protection Zones (e.g. MPAs) are one tool among many which professionals can use to manage aquatic resources. They can span a variety of habitats and they can vary in purpose and level of protection. At their core, they are established to protect threatened fish stocks and sensitive habitat within specified boundaries, and can be removed once their goals have been accomplished. WHAT ARE MPAs? Where MPAs are suggested, site specific scientific data is required to first determine what problems exist, before fishery managers can decide what solution fits best. However, U.S. Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs) have hijacked the intended use to suit an entirely different anti-sustainable use agenda. While these efforts are championed under the guise of ‘protecting habitat,’ documented threats and supporting scientific data is often absent. In many instances Anglers are being falsely portrayed as a threat to habitat, fishery conservation and to healthy fish populations. Instead of science, arbitrary percentages and a ‘one size fits all’ approach for vast networks of ‘Protection Zones’ are now being mandated for Canadian waters. Sadly, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Prime Minister Trudeau have followed along with these organizations. As we mentioned in our previous article, ENGOs do not pay taxes, and they petition the government for funds to support their cause. In many ways, responsible anglers [...]