Canada's Other Freshwater Commercial Fishery: Science and Management of Baitfishes in Response to Shifting Ecological and Socioeconomic Baselines

Tuesday, August 19, 2014: 11:10 AM
205B (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Andrew Drake , Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON, Canada
Nicholas Mandrak , Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON, Canada
Canada has a multitude of vibrant and productive commercial freshwater fisheries, which are characterized by relatively localized harvest and collective ecological and socioeconomic value.  Baitfish harvest, which has long-standing history in Canada, experiences annual harvest of 100 million fishes in Ontario alone, with landing values approaching those for many large-bodied commercial species.  Baitfish stocks are widespread and speciose, encompassing greater than 50 species from diverse habitats and harvested with numerous live capture gears. Approaches to management are increasingly multidisciplinary and risk-based, having shifted in response to new fisheries management paradigms and changing ecological baselines.  Notable recent shifts encompass conservation and the ecological value of forage fishes and their habitat, especially as the role of baitfish and their socioeconomic importance unfolds within legislative frameworks. We highlight past, present, and future science and management of baitfish fisheries in Canada, including history of the fisheries and their management, stock status, and topical issues, such as harvest quotas, mixed stocks and bycatch, and human dimensions. Many science needs remain to inform policy, such as the exploitation potential of stocks and techniques for effective bycatch removal.