On June 29, 2012, the Fisheries Act was amended. Policy and regulations are now being developed to support the new fisheries protection provisions of the Act (which are not yet in force). The existing guidance and policies continue to apply. For more information, see Changes to the Fisheries Act.
Letter of Agreement: Lower Fraser River Gravel Removal Plan
Land and Water BC Inc. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are committed to work
together to take immediate action on the progressive reduction of the flood
hazard risk to communities along the Fraser River between Seabird Island and
the Vedder River confluence over the next five years and beyond.
Land and Water BC Inc. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have engaged the assistance
of the Fraser Basin Council to develop a long-term plan (Attachment A) for reducing
the flood hazard risk in the lower Fraser River.
Land and Water BC Inc. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada will incorporate collaborative
management, adaptive management and sustainability principles into decisions
regarding gravel removal and river management.
Land and Water BC Inc. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada will apply these principles
- The need for gravel removal:
- by recognizing that gravel removal from the Fraser River is one of the
methods used to manage flood levels, control erosion, and maintain navigable
- by recognizing that there has been significant accumulation of gravel in
the past five years, with limited gravel removals occurring;
- by recognizing that decisions on gravel removals must respect the regulatory
and consultation requirements of federal and provincial government decision-makers;
- Process and timelines for annual removals:
- by agreeing to a common timeline and process for annual decision-making
on gravel removals (Attachment B), that will include sites selected on an
- Information requirements:
- by agreeing to information requirements and working to incorporate updated
information (e.g. 2-D hydraulic modeling) in a timely manner into annual decision-making
for candidate sites.
- Annual removal quantities:
- by Authorizing an estimated removal quantity of approximately 500,000 cubic
meters / year over the next two years, and 420,000 cubic meters / year over
the following three years, based on the best available science, with provision
for additional sites as a contingency to meet agreed upon annual removals.
This letter of agreement signifies a renewed spirit of collaboration between
Land and Water BC Inc. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to implement the principles
and goals above.
The Honourable George Abbott
Minister Responsible for
Land and Water BC Inc.
The Honourable Geoff Regan
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
LOWER FRASER RIVER
GRAVEL REMOVAL PLAN
This five-year gravel removal plan for the lower Fraser River was developed
through the collaborative efforts of Land and Water BC Inc. representing the
Province of B.C., Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Fraser Basin Council.
The plan is intended to describe objectives associated with gravel removal in
the lower Fraser River as well as the decision-making process that will be followed
by all parties involved in the authorization and implementation of gravel removal
proposals. In doing so, the plan will clarify uncertainty encountered in recent
years associated with the authorization process -- e.g., information required
to process gravel removal proposals and deadlines.
- Recognition that gravel removal from the Fraser River is one of the methods
to be used to provide hydraulic benefits including managing flood levels,
controlling erosion, and maintaining navigable channels.
- Recognition that the need for gravel removal must be balanced with the
regulatory and consultation requirements of federal and provincial government
- Establishment of common timelines and process for annual decision-making
on gravel removals (Attachment B) that will include sites selected from a
long term plan and which demonstrate a hydraulic benefit.
3. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
This section describes the role of the parties involved in gravel removal.
Those interested in receiving gravel removal Authorizations are required to
meet mine plan information requirements and adhere to the schedule outlined
in (Attachment B).
Land & Water BC Inc. (LWBC) is committed to addressing the increasing risks
associated with continued accumulation of gravel in the lower reaches of the
Fraser River and to the develop a long term comprehensive flood hazard management
strategy that is cost effective and environmentally sustainable.
LWBC believes that that unless this mounting accumulation of gravel is reduced,
the risks to human safety and property will continue to grow.
LWBC is committed to working with the Council, the federal government, First
Nations, local government and other parties to develop a long term solution.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is committed to working collaboratively with
provincial and municipal governments, First Nations and stakeholders to facilitate
the orderly and planned removal of gravel for flood prevention, erosion control
and navigation safety. DFO's primary role is to ensure that the gravel
removal plan meets the regulatory requirements under the Fisheries Act
and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and will furthermore:
- ensure that requirements for fish and fish habitat protection are clearly
articulated and reviews completed in a timely way.
- address First Nations concerns that arise as a result of authorizations
issued to address habitat problems.
Fraser Basin Council
The Fraser Basin Council will play the role of coordinating and facilitating
the development and ongoing implementation of the plan, working with the parties.
This will include, for example, facilitating studies in relation to River 2D
hydraulic modelling for the parties and other interested organizations.
4. AUTHORIZATION PROCESS
It is recognized by the parties that there has been accumulation of gravel
over the past five years, with limited gravel removals occurring. Consistent
with the objectives outlined in Section 2, it is agreed that gravel removal
Authorizations under the Fisheries Act over the period 2004 to 2008
for hydraulic benefit(s) will be guided by the following removal objectives
(per calendar year):
||Removal Year **
||to be removed in 2005
||to be removed in 2006
||to be removed in 2007
||to be removed in 2008
||to be removed in 2009
* This is the year the Authorization is approved.
**Authorizations processed each year result in gravel removal the following
This plan will be in effect until March 15, 2009. The plan will be reviewed
on an annual basis and with the agreement of both parties may be renewed at
the end of its five year term.
Attachment B: Annual Process and Timelines: Winter Window
||Specific annual primary and contingency sites selected from candidate
||DFO & LWBC agree to priority list of candidate sites
that demonstrate hydraulic benefit
||Pre-removal biological monitoring 1
||See information requirements
||Pre-consultation with First Nations
||Pre-consultation with First Nations
||Formal consultation package to First Nations for review
||Pre-removal biological monitoring 2
||LWBC tendering / direct award
|Initial site design complete (site surveys, initial mining plan)
||See information requirements
||Final sites selected
||LWBC Land Act approval
||CEAA listing, formal DFO consultation package to First Nations
|Site designs finalized (habitat mapping, habitat enhancement features)
||See information requirements
||Final DFO Fisheries Act approval
||Pre-removal biological monitoring & other pre-removal site information
3 complete as conditions of authorization
||See information requirements
| Jan 1
||Fisheries window begins, gravel removal begins
||Work in the river is completeSite reclamation and post-assessment
||Winter work window ends
*Refer to "Key Steps to Authorization Process" and "Information
- Where possible, LWBC and DFO will seek opportunities for joint consultation
with First Nations.
- Similar timelines will be developed for work that occurs in the Summer
Key Steps to Authorization Process
- May - Specific Annual Primary and Contingency Sites Selected: These are
sites agreed to by the parties from a prioritized list of sites that demonstrate
a hydraulic benefit. This selection should occur in May in preparation for
the following winter fisheries work window.
- June - Pre-removal Biological Monitoring (fish sampling): The gravel reach
provides rearing habitat for at least 28 fish species. The edges of gravel
bars represent perhaps the most important rearing habitat and high densities
are commonly found during summer months. Periodic samplings taken from selected
sites and reference sites will assist in minimizing long term impacts and
may also be used for the purposes of adaptive management with respect to future
removal proposals. Samples are taken three times a year (June, Sept., and
Dec.); this is the first sampling episode.
- June - Pre-consultation with First Nations: Wherever practical, the parties
will jointly conduct consultations with First Nations in preparation for authorization
under the Fisheries Act. In addition to its fiduciary responsibility to consult,
DFO has an additional responsibility under CEAA to assess potential impacts
to traditional use, in this case, traditional fishing sites, by First Nations.
- August - LWBC formal consultation package: LWBC will conduct formal consultations
with First Nations for the candidate removal sites.
September - Pre-removal Biological Monitoring (fish and invertebrate
This is the second sampling episode.
- September - LWBC Tendering/Direct Award and Land Act Approval: LWBC will
have completed its tendering process for operators of gravel removals from
crown-owned lands and will have issued required permits under the Land Act
and the Water Act. Initial site design (site topographical or bathymetric
surveys, mining plan) will be completed for referral to DFO on or before October
- October 1 - LWBC Land Act Approval and Final Sites Selected: LWBC
Land Act and Water Act documents will be referred to DFO. At this point, the
final sites for the following winter work window will have been selected for
review and assessment. Information requirements for each site will be complete.
- October 10 - CEAA Listing & Formal DFO Consultation Package to First
Nations: Upon review of the information submitted, DFO will submit the projects
proposals for posting on the CEAA public registry. DFO will also commence
CEAA proceedings, such as Federal Co-ordination requirements, and will consult
First Nations potentially affected by specific proposals. At this point, all
information requirements (site designs, habitat mapping, habitat enhancement
features) in relation to the projects must be complete and in hand.
- November 1 - DFO Fisheries Act Decision:
DFO will have completed its CEAA and Fisheries Act review and assessments.
This is the decision point to authorize (or reject) based on all of the foregoing
information submitted and reviewed pursuant to the Fisheries Act
and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
- December 15 - Pre-removal Biological Monitoring (fish and invertebrate
sampling): This is the third sampling episode
- January 1- Fisheries Window Begins: The winter work window opens January
1 for authorized gravel removals. It is anticipated works will commence at
that time in order to allow for orderly and safe operations, and for post
project activities to occur, such as site reclamation requirements, and post-extraction
- March 7 - In-river work complete: It is anticipated that removal operations
will be finishing up to allow for post project activities to begin, such as
site reclamation and post-extraction surveys, in anticipation of closure of
the winter work window.
- March 15 - Winter Work Window Ends: The winter work window will close
March 15, at about the time of rising water and downstream juvenile migrations.
There will be no further in-river works beyond this point. In accordance with
conditions of the Authorizations, post project monitoring and summary reports
will be required.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Lower Fraser Area
The information requirements on this form relate specifically to Gravel
Removal operations in the Gravel Reach of the Fraser River, Hope to Mission.
The information Proponents provide on this form is the minimum necessary
for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to evaluate compliance with the Federal Fisheries
This information may also be required for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to
conduct an environmental review and assessment (screening) under the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Act.
The following information should be prepared by qualified professionals
and must be attached for review of your project.
- Proponent: __________________________________________________
Postal Code: ______________ Contact: ____________________
Telephone: ______________ Fax: ____________________
- Proposed Works: Provide a description of the proposed
works including the mine excavation and access to the mine site such as haul
roads, culverts or bridges, barge landings and moorages, etc. A detailed plan
should include site specific information on pre-excavation site surveys (an
up-to-date topographic survey of the removal area and the surrounding area
- the survey area and survey point density will vary based on site conditions,
removal design and existing habitat features), excavation designs (removal
design with habitat mitigation features included in the design - this
may alter the removal volume), and excavation methodology.
- Location of Works: Provide a description of the location
of the works. Descriptive location references as well as positional information
such as latitude and longitude or UTM coordinates are appropriate. In addition,
indicate your tenure to the land and tenure to access routes. Include appropriate
maps (refer to maps and drawings below).
- Timing of Works: Please provide a schedule for the start
and finish dates for each of the following. It is expected these dates will
fit within the fisheries timing window, and will ensure that the last steps,
project decommissioning, equipment removal and post-project surveys, are completed
well in advance of the spring freshet.
- Proposed gravel extraction works;
- Post extraction site remediation or reclamation;
- Decommissioning (i.e. access roads, culverts, bridges), equipment removal
and post-project site survey.
- Fish Habitat Assessment, Mitigation Plan and Monitoring Program:
Impacts on fish and other aquatic habitats are carefully considered in the
approval process. A detailed site inventory and habitat assessment is required
and should include information on all potentially affected fish species and
their habitats. The assessment must detail steps taken to mitigate potential
impacts to fish habitat. The assessment is to be completed by a registered
professional with appropriate expertise in biological sciences.
A monitoring program, conducted by consultants acceptable to DFO, is also
required to monitor impacts to fish habitat from the gravel removal operation,
Conditions relating to the Habitat Assessment, Mitigation Plan and Monitoring
Program are as follows;
Proponents are to submit a monitoring program with their applications,
including information relating to professional experience and qualifications
of the monitors they will be using.
- Topographic and Bathymetric Surveys: These
will be used to assess the volume of gravel removed and the morphological
impacts of the removal. The survey area should extend beyond the removal
area to cover the area of potential morphological impact, for example,
500 metres downstream and 200 metres upstream of the removal area. Bathymetric
and topographic survey points shall be chosen, at the discretion of the
surveyor, to provide a sufficiently dense set of survey points to produce
a detailed contour drawing of the bar area and stream bed with 1 metre
contours. The accuracy of the topographic survey points shall be ±0.04
metres horizontally and vertically. The surveyor shall tie the survey
into survey hubs, which will remain in place for the duration of a monitoring
period of 5-years. All elevations shall be local geodetic elevations.
The surveyor shall provide 1:500 scale contour drawings of the monitoring
area, showing survey point locations. Survey information shall be collected
during winter low-flow and distributed prior to sediment removal; following
sediment removal (in the removal area) and prior to March 15; and following
the first of either a freshet with a peak daily flow of over 8,766 cubic
metres per second (major freshet) or after three freshets following gravel
- Surface Sediment Sampling: Grain Size distribution
of surface sediment shall be characterized using the Wolman or photographic
method, within the removal area and at one reference area;
- before removal
- after gravel removal, following spring freshet, and
- following the first of either a major freshet or after three freshets.
A major freshet shall be considered to be a freshet with a peak flow
exceeding 8,766 cubic metres per second (the average freshet peak
- Juvenile Fish Sampling: Juvenile fish sampling
should be conducted during two sampling episodes (when the flow is at
5,000 cubic metres per second and again at 2,500 cubic metres per second)
at the proposed removal site and at reference sites. Each sampling episode
should be conducted during the first inundation of the removal site and
reference sites when juvenile fish are rearing along bar edges (Jun-Aug).
The sampling should consist of a minimum of 5 beach seines in each habitat
- Benthic Invertebrate Sampling: Pre-extraction
benthic invertebrate sampling involving two sampling episodes is required
within the removal boundary and within three designated reference areas:.
The episodes should be at least a month apart, in the fall (Sep -
Dec) and again in early winter (Jan - Feb).
Following gravel removal three sampling episodes are also required, within
the removal area and at three designated reference areas.
For each episode, 5 replicate samples collected by Surber net at each
site are required. Attempt to sample the identical habitat type at each
site and in each sampling episode.
Inventory and assessment of benthic invertebrates shall be conducted soon
after water has covered the site; in the fall or winter after freshet;
and after the first of either a major freshet or after three freshets
following gravel removal. The post freshet sampling shall be conducted
during the same month as one of the pre-removal sampling episodes.
- Habitat Mapping: Four episodes of habitat
mapping shall be carried out at the proposed removal site and surrounding
area (on-site and photos from a fixed wing aircraft).
- after gravel removal,
- after the peak of the freshet when the discharge is approximately
- when the discharge is approximately 2,500 m3/s,
- repeated at the same flows following the first of either a major
freshet or after three freshets following gravel removal.
- Alternatively, habitat mapping may be carried out using River 2-D
modeling with high resolution survey information.
- Gravel Removal Supervision: Monitors, acceptable
to DFO, will also be required to monitor and supervise compliance of the
works during the operational stages, including for example, construction
of access roads, culverts or bridges, the gravel extraction operation,
and reclamation and decommissioning of the roads and the work site. These
monitors will be empowered to take immediate corrective measures where
required and to immediately report to DFO on issues of non-compliance
with the Authorization and the Fisheries Act.
- Channel Hydraulic and Morphological Assessment: A detailed
assessment of changes to channel hydraulics, including flow pattern changes,
and the benefits to flood protection, erosion or navigation from the proposed
works and the potential impacts on channel morphology is required. The assessment
will include areas upstream and downstream of the proposed removal site, which
are likely to experience flow and water level changes. This assessment is
to be completed by a registered professional with the appropriate expertise
in river engineering or fluvial morphology. The River 2-D modeling recently
conducted at Queens Bar and Spring Bar, and the modeling currently under way
in the Harrison Bar to Power Line Island Reach are examples of this type of
assessment. Sites outside of the area modeled will require this level of assessment.
- Habitat Compensation Plans: Habitat compensation may not
be required where it is determined that features that fully mitigate habitat
impacts shall be constructed as part of the gravel removal. The productive
capacity of the habitat at the removal site shall be monitored following gravel
removal and compared to the pre-removal capacity and reference site
conditions. (Note; to date, DFO has not required compensation for gravel removals
where, following one to three freshets, there has been recruitment, replenishment
and re-stabilization of the bar's productivity). In the event that riparian
vegetation is removed, replanting of vegetation native to the removal area
shall be required to compensate for the loss of riparian vegetation, at a
rate of 2:1 (e.g. 2 square metres replanted for each square metre of removal).
- Maps and Drawings: The maps and drawings that accompany
the application are necessary for the review of project proposal. The maps
must include suitable cross-sections, topography at standard contour intervals,
and any other information needed to develop an estimated removal quantity.
All pipelines, power lines, railways, roads, bridges, dikes, rock groins and
other types of infrastructure should be identified. Generally, three maps
or drawings will be required with each application:
- Location Map: The location map is a broad overview map that depicts
the general application area in relation to major geographic and cadastral
features. The location map will be used by the Department and the public
that may have questions about the application, its general location and
general proximity to an area in which they may be interested. It is usually
produced at a scale of approximately 1:50,000.
- Site Plan: The site plan is the medium scale map that shows the application
area and its dimensions, in relation to detailed, larger scale features
such as smaller roads or creeks. The site plan is usually at a scale of
1:10,000 to 1:20,000, but will vary depending on the size of the application
- Detailed Plan: The detailed plan is the largest scale map and shows
the details of the project and proposed related works. The detailed plan
or plans might be an integral part of a report, assessment or survey which
accompanies the application. It is the visual description of the work
plan. The detailed plan will show any placement or removal of rock/gravel
with pre- and post- work elevations. The detailed plan(s) will also show
proposed habitat restoration features and the location of natural and
social features, such as vegetation, wetland, side channels and archaeological
and recreational sties. The detailed plan should have a comprehensive
legend to explain the different symbols used to describe the various values
and interests of and in the area as well as the works proposed. Scale
should be 1:2,000.
- First Nations Requirements: Although it is understood that
whenever possible, LWBC and DFO will conduct joint consultations with First
Nations, proponents are encouraged to attempt to carry out their own consultations
wherever possible. In those situations where proponents are able to carry
out their own consultations with First Nations, DFO asks that the following
information be provided.
- Identification of any potential adverse effects that the project may have
on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by aboriginal
persons. Traditional uses and activities, and potential effects would usually
be identified through direct consultation with First Nations.
- Details of specific measures that will be employed to avoid and mitigate
potential adverse effects that the project might have on the current use of
lands and resources for traditional purposes by aboriginal persons.
- Details of consultations that the proponent has undertaken and carried
out with First Nations with respect to this matter. This includes plans for
ongoing (i.e. post-environmental assessment) consultations with First Nations.
Fisheries Act Assessment:
This application guide has been provided to assist all parties involved in the
review and referral process for gravel removals on the Fraser River, between
Hope and Mission. It is intended to clarify the information requirements of
the application process and to ensure that adequate, accurate and complete information
is submitted and reviewed in a timely and open manner. This will result in a
comprehensive description of all projects, their benefits, their impacts and
the steps being taken to mitigate and minimize those impacts.
It is understood that completion of these information requirements
does not constitute approval or Authorization under the Federal Fisheries
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA):
It is also understood that the proposed works are likely to require screening
under CEAA. Please note that Section 55 of CEAA requires that
a public registry be established and that the public can have convenient access
to this registry. Consequently, any information provided by you related to the
Environmental Assessment for this project will be part of the CEAA Public Registry
and will be made available to a member of the public, if requested. In addition,
as part of the CEAA public notification, the Department of Fisheries
and Oceans is required to post the particulars of your project on the CEAA
public registry for a minimum of fifteen days prior to completing its review
and assessment of your project.
Should you provide a record that contains confidential or sensitive
information, such information must be clearly identified and a rationale provided
in writing regarding its possible protection. Your rationale should demonstrate
the likelihood of probable prejudice on he basis of facts and not just refer
to the various injuries cited in the Act
First Nations Consultations: In addition,
it is understood that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a fiduciary
responsibility to consult with First Nations prior to issuing an Authorization
for the proposed works.
Species At Risk Act (SARA): Please
note that new requirements pursuant to SARA may modify the foregoing
environmental assessment requirements.