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.
HMP activities are aligned with DFO’s strategic outcome identified as healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems. This outcome involves the sustainable development and integrated management of resources in or around Canada’s aquatic environment through oceans and fish habitat management. Specifically, HMP activities support the development and use of aquatic resources for the benefit of all Canadians through ensuring the availability of healthy and productive fish habitat. Conserving and protecting fish and fish habitat requires the cooperation of Provinces, territories, industry, Aboriginal groups, individual Canadians and other stakeholders.For more information on the impact of the Habitat Management Program Activity, as it contributes to progress towards the achievement of healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems, please refer to the annual Departmental Performance Report for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.7
The administration of the Fish Habitat Protection Provisions of the Fisheries Act is the responsibility of DFO’s HMP. The program accomplishes this in part by reviewing development proposals (known as “referrals”). Proponents may voluntarily submit information about their proposed works or undertakings to determine if they comply with the habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. The referral process enables HMP staff to review submitted proposals to assess if a HADD of fish habitat is likely to result from the proposed works or undertakings. As part of its practice, the HMP applies a Risk Management Framework consisting of three components: Aquatic Effects Assessment; Risk Assessment, and; Risk Management.8
As part of the referral process, Program staff send advice to a development proponent indicating the requirements for the conservation and protection of fish habitat. This advice informs proponents on how to proceed with their works or undertaking in a manner that will comply with the Fisheries Act, mainly with respect to avoiding the HADD of fish habitat (section 35). Advice is commonly provided in the form of a “Letter of Advice” or an “Operational Statement” for low risk activities. An “Authorization” pursuant to subsection 35(2) of the Act may be issued where HADD cannot be avoided.
Prior to issuing certain Authorizations pursuant to the Fisheries Act, HMP staff must verify whether the project under review has potential to adversely affect aquatic species listed under SARA, or their critical habitat, and ensure that an environmental assessment (EA) under CEAA (or other EA regimes) is completed.DFO may exercise decision-making authority that triggers the CEAA under the following circumstances: where DFO is the project proponent; provides financial assistance; sells, leases, or otherwise transfers control or administration of federal land; or, makes certain regulatory decisions to enable a project to be carried out. In such cases, DFO becomes a “responsible authority” under the CEAA and must ensure that an EA is prepared prior to making a decision. Typically, an EA considers broad environmental issues linked to the project, as well as including those directly associated with fish and fish habitat. For more information regarding the nature of EAs under CEAA, please refer to the Website for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.9
This section presents data recorded in the Program Activity Tracking System for Habitat (PATH) on review of referrals.
|DFO Region||Work Categories|
|Aqua.||Contaminated Site Remediation||Control Nuisance Species||Dredging||Fish Offal Disposal||Habitat Improvement||Instream Works||Log Handling||Mineral, Aggregate & O&G Extraction||Shore Works||Structures in Water||Water Mgmt||Water-course Crossing||Other*||Total|
|Central and Arctic||1||18||6||114||0||23||277||0||131||553||370||210||1,153||255||3,111|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||996||873||782||819||873|
|Central & Arctic||3,445||3,330||3,145||3,151||3,111|
Data recorded in PATH on advice provided by DFO and authorizations issued are presented below in Table 3.
|Region||Advice Provided to Proponent or Others10||Advice provided in form of Operational Statement||Authorizations Issued||Total|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||617||9||4||626|
|Central and Arctic||1,675||183||145||1,858|
Figure 3 illustrates the regional distribution of advice. Figure 4 illustrates the number of authorizations by region in 2010-2011.
Figure 3: Advice Provided by Region, 2006-2007 to 2010-201112
|Newfoundland & Labrador||884||763||666||711||626|
|Central & Arctic||2,528||2,400||2,385||2,257||1,858|
Figure 4: Authorizations Issued by Region, 2006-2007 to 2010-201113
|Newfoundland & Labrador||1||6||2||5||4|
|Central & Arctic||304||162||129||112||145|
DFO uses operational statements as a management tool to improve efficiency and effectiveness of its regulatory reviews for low-risk activities. Operational statements have been developed for certain types of works or undertakings. They provide generic guidance and specify mitigation measures needed to avoid harm to fish habitat. Proponents incorporating measures outlined in an Operational Statement will comply with the Act and are not required to submit an application for an Authorization under subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act.
In addition, DFO has established the “class” authorizations process for agricultural municipal drains in Southern Ontario (Ontario-Great Lakes Area). The issuance of class authorizations for pre-defined drain maintenance activities eliminates the requirement for a site-specific review process. Similarly, an integrated regulatory regime for placer mining in the Yukon Territory provides a streamlined process for environmental review of placer mining proposals pursuant to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.14
Table 4 provides a summary notifications of use of Class Authorizations and Operational Statements in Fiscal year 2010-2011.
|Region||Class Authorizations Notifications||Operational Statements Notifications||Total|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||0||37||37|
|Central and Arctic||310||3,485||3,485|
 Advice provided to others includes: written advice to federal agencies, provincial/territorial/other agencies, letters of advice to proponents, letters of approval to proponents, mitigation measures provided to permitting agencies.
 In the Gulf Region, as a result of an agreement with the Province of New Brunswick, DFO does not need to provide Operational Statements for streamlining certain activities.
 As of 2005-2006, the advice provided includes Operational Statements provided as Advice (following receipt of referral).
 Notifications of use of Class Authorizations are not included in this chart.