Commercial harvesting of marine resources is of great economic importance on the Pacific coast. The modern commercial fishery in Pacific Canada is relatively young compared to that in Atlantic Canada. Its relative importance in Canada has grown since the mid 1980's when groundfish catches began to increase in the Pacific, and even more so since the severe decline in groundfish catches in the Atlantic beginning around 1990. Of the Pacific ground fish, Pacific hake, cod, rockfishes, Pacific halibut and other flatfishes are the most sought. Of the pelagic fish and finfish, salmon and herring are the most important. The catch of these fishes remained relatively stable from the early 1970's until the mid 1990's when salmon catches in particular decreased. These trends in commercial landings on the Pacific coast have been influenced by a variety of factors associated with the demand and the availability of fishes.
Commercial fishing is not only important to the local economy, but is also important to the export industry in the country. This economic importance coupled with efficient fishing techniques puts high demands on the fish stocks. As a result, the abundance of various fish stocks become a limiting factor. This is most dramatically seen when overfishing leads to crashes in the fish stocks which can have serious effects on the economy. Fortunately for the Pacific coast, such incidents have been less severe than in the Atlantic ground fishery, a harsh lesson in the consequences of poor resource management.