World Oceans Day economics

Admittedly, my economic theory is a bit rudimentary. For someone who in my youth, concentrated on English/Cultural studies and sticking it to the man, Adam Smith’s invisible hand was just that. However, I do understand that when enough of us walk into a grocery store and can’t find what we want, it’s good business to make sure we eventually do. That’s basically what’s happening with seafood purchases in Canada and more importantly in the US. People are demanding sustainably caught seafood and it’s creating a change in the entire supply chain. Supply and demand, improved products at lower costs, social and environmental changes, all of this is playing out with our everyday visits to the grocery store.
Part of the goal for us at WWF is to transform interest and demand at the supermarket and thereby bring about long lasting health in our oceans. The invisible hand needs a helping hand sometimes to make sure decision makers position our Canadian industries to not only be flexible enough to respond to future trends, but to also steward resources that belong to all Canadians for generations to come.
To this end, WWF hosted an event at the Economic Club in Ottawa as part of our yearly World Oceans Day celebrations. In the past we’ve brought people together to learn about best practices in ocean management in other parts of the world; hosted a roundtable on the health and economy of our oceans; held forums to hear about leaders in the business community and their commitments to healthy oceans, and even had some fun with chef’s and seafood.

Andrew oceans day woman at podium
Economic club in Ottawa. Photo credit: Andrew Dumbrille, WWF-Canada

This year’s focus was on the ‘Risks and Opportunities of Canada’s Multi-Million Dollar Ocean Product Industry’ and it came down to a simple fact that even someone with relatively low economic literacy, like me, can understand: the US is demanding sustainable seafood and the US is Canada’s largest export market. Canada’s commercial fishery is a $5 billion a year business with 80% of our catch heading outside of the country’s borders, mostly to the US. Clearly, Canadian fisheries need to respond to meet this demand and seize this opportunity by becoming more sustainable.
Sustainably managing fisheries is a key element in the healthy oceans equation. Conserving critical habitat and planning and integrating all sea uses are the other part of the equation. If we do this right, with enough resources and political leadership, we will be able to secure the healthy oceans that provide jobs and support a prosperous Canadian economy.
As WWF’s Ocean Director, Bettina Saier, said in her opening speech to the Economic Club, ‘What we need is a shift in perspective. One that recognizes ecology and economy not as opposing goals to be balanced, but as partners striving towards the same objective which is the sustainability of living resources’.
Andrew oceans day group
Photo credit: Greg Teckles, WWF-Canada

By bringing the oceans to Ottawa, shining a spotlight on the goods and services our oceans provide, increasing ‘ocean literacy’ and offering solutions to ocean protection and management we’re hoping  our decision makers won’t be invisible, when the economic opportunities of healthy oceans are visible this World Oceans Day.
andrew oceans day moustache
Photo credit: Greg Teckles, WWF-Canada