FILE - A Department of Fisheries and Oceans boat. On Thursday, April 2, 2020, due to COVID-19, a Fisheries Management Order was signed to lift existing at-sea observer requirements on fishing vessels. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced on Friday that all fishing activities authorized under the Fisheries Act must be carried out without any at-sea observers being onboard vessels.

The Fisheries Management Order took effect on April 2 and will remain in place for 45 days “due to the current exceptional circumstances associated with the emergence of the COVD-19 virus.”

A notice from DFO said the at-sea observer requirements, which include placing certified observers onboard fishing vessels to monitor fishing activities, collect scientific data, and monitor industry compliance with fishing regulations and licence conditions, currently pose a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries.

ALSO READ: New way to report possible fishing violations to DFO

“The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has issued a Fisheries Management Order (FMO 2020-01) under section 9.1 of the Fisheries Act to lift the existing at-sea observer requirements imposed under existing licences to fish, which create a human health risk for at-sea observers and fishers and constitute a public human health risk,” the notice said.

“Fisheries Management Order 2020-01 prevails over any regulations made under the Fisheries Act, any orders issued under those regulations and over any conditions of any lease or licence issued under that act.”

ALSO READ: Young B.C. fishers instigate study on West Coast licence, quota system

Responding to the order on Monday, the communications manager for DFO-designated At-Sea Observer Program service provider Ecotrust Canada said the charity would be discussing alternative solutions with DFO.

“We recognize that the health and safety of human observers and fish harvesters is key at this time,” Shannon Lough said, “and we’ll be working with our fisheries partners and DFO to discuss alternative solutions.”

Black Press Media has reached out to DFO for comment.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


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