Canada is blessed with the longest coastline in the world and one of the largest ocean estates of any country. Ocean fish stocks are among the planet's most important renewable natural resources.
Beyond playing a crucial role in marine ecosystems, fish support human well-being through employment in fishing, processing, and retail services, as well as food security for many coastal regions. Gross revenues from ocean fisheries worldwide are estimated at about US$85 billion annually, generating economic and household income impacts throughout the world economy of about US$240 billion and US$63 billion annually. The equivalent numbers for Canada are US$2.8 billion, US$9.1 billion and US$2.9 billion. In addition to these commercial values, fish is a good source of protein, micro-nutrients, minerals and essential fatty acids, and globally provides 3 billion people up to 15 per cent of their dietary animal protein needs. In Canada, many coastal communities, especially First Nations groups, rely heavily on fish for food and employment, in addition to their cultural and ceremonial importance.
Ensuring that our oceans and fish stocks are healthy and sustainable long-term is important to the Canadian and global economy and identity. Achieving healthy oceans has always been difficult, as they are plagued by the historical problems of overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction and loss. Global warming, ocean acidification and deoxygenating are new threats. Combined with the longstanding threats, these new issues are creating formidable challenges to this important animal protein source, and the economics of the businesses and communities that depend on them. As amply demonstrated by the collapse of northern cod off Newfoundland, the depletion of fish stocks can have devastating effects on human well-being.