By Scott Wallace, Senior Research Scientist
While the world's media waited for the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge, a less auspicious but connected event took place the week before without much fanfare.
The event — the inaugural Fishing into the Future workshop — was hosted by the new prince's grandfather, HRH Prince Charles, under the Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit.
And the success story behind B.C.'s groundfish fisheries was recognized. The fisheries worked with environmental organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, to become among the best-managed fisheries on the planet. That was the message delivered at the workshop by B.C. halibut fisherman Wes Erikson, as the only participating non-European present. B.C.'s groundfish longline fishery has moved from unsustainable practices, such as catching and discarding unmonitored bycatch, toward full at-sea video monitoring, dockside checks and integration with other fishing fleets. These reforms allow for more reliable stock assessments and a better understanding of the impacts the fishery has on other species. The fishery was featured as a positive example by David and Sarika Suzuki on the Nature of Things.
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Our fisheries' success story was further amplified at a European Union fisheries workshop on management of deepsea fisheries in Edinburgh where, as the only non-European presenter, I spoke to reforms to B.C.'s bottom trawl fishery (PDF). B.C. now has the world's first habitat quota to protect corals and sponges from the impacts of bottom trawling. The reforms were possible through a multi-year collaboration between our foundation, the Living Oceans Society and the B.C. trawl industry.
And in Sweden, too, the fisheries minister asked to hear about the management of B.C.'s groundfish fisheries.
With media focused on the arrival of a new prince, thoughts turn to succession and future generations. What kind of planet will the next generation inherit? The improvements to B.C.'s groundfish fisheries offer a beacon of hope that future generations can continue to enjoy the rewards from sustainable fisheries, and a healthy ocean, for many years. The world is taking note.