Frequently Asked Questions - New Fisheries Protection Measures
Q1 Why are we introducing new fisheries protection measures?
A1 The measures announced today will allow the Department to focus its efforts on managing key threats to Canada’s recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries and will enable new regulatory tools to provide greater certainty and consistency to industry and ensure a more efficient and effective regulatory regime for the protection of the fisheries.
Q2 Will there be changes to the way pollution is managed?
A2 Waterways will continue to be protected from pollution as they have in the past. The legislative proposal would provide additional clarity around the management of deleterious substances.
Q3 Why are we focusing on recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fisheries?
A3 The Fisheries Act is about managing fisheries. We are moving away from reviewing all projects on all waters to focusing on those that may significantly impact Canada’s fisheries. We will strengthen our focus on the management of threats to Canada’s recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries to ensure their long-term productivity and sustainability.
Q4 What would constitute a recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fishery? When and how would they be further defined?
A4 For the purpose of the new rules, we would consider:
- A commercial fishery as a fishery for the purposes of sale, trade, or barter, under license, whether individual or communal.
- A recreational fishery as a fishery for personal use or sport.
- An Aboriginal fishery as fish caught for food (including subsistence), social or ceremonial purposes. We note that Aboriginal groups may fish as part of all three of these categories.
These fisheries could be further defined in new regulations following consultations with provinces, Aboriginal groups and other relevant stakeholders.
Q5 How do these new measures provide for enhanced protection of recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries?
A5 There are a number of provisions that provide and enable enhanced protection. These include establishing ecologically sensitive areas, such as critical spawning habitat for salmon or other species. If any activities are proposed within these areas, proponents would be required to submit plans for review. The Minister may then require higher levels of protection for such areas.
Other measures include increased fines and penalties for offenses, the creation of enforceable conditions for Ministerial authorizations, and a “duty to notify” requirement that states that proponents shall report an occurrence that results in serious harm to these important fisheries.
Q6 Will fisheries that are not part of a recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fisheries be afforded any protection?
A6 Protecting recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries and the habitat that supports them covers a very wide spectrum of areas that will now be specifically afforded protection under the law. Our focus is to manage threats to recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries to ensure that these fisheries are available for future generations of Canadians. Other areas without fisheries will continue to be protected from pollution under the Fisheries Act and other relevant laws of Canada (such as provincial water and environmental legislation).
Q7 How do changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act change the way
the Fisheries Act applies?
A7 It does not change the way the Fisheries Act applies.
Q8 Has the word “habitat” been removed from the Fisheries Act?
A8 No. The term “fish habitat” is still included in the Act.
Q9 How will these new measures change the way Fisheries and Oceans Canada operates?
A9 The Department will move from managing impacts in all areas that may or may not contain fish, to a fisheries protection program that manages threats to the recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries. These threats include habitat destruction, incidental killing of fish and aquatic invasive species.
Q10 Will authorizations be required for all projects causing harm to fisheries?
A10 No. Authorizations will not be required for projects occurring in waters that do not support the recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fisheries. New tools will be available to manage smaller impacts to recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries.
Q11 Will the Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat be revised?
A11 Yes. The existing Habitat Policy will be updated to reflect the Department’s focus on managing threats to recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fisheries.
Q12 What will happen to the “no net loss” principle?
A12 The principles contained in the current Habitat Policy, including “no net loss”, will be reviewed to ensure consistency with our focus on managing threats to recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fisheries.
Q13 What does this mean for provinces and territories?
A13 Provinces and Territories are important partners for the federal government in protecting fisheries. The new measures will include new tools such as enabling delegation and equivalency to enable us to work more effectively together and ensure consistent regulatory approaches. As we move forward we will work closely with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure the effective implementation of these new measures.
Q14 Will Aboriginal or treaty rights be affected?
A14 We are committed to respecting Aboriginal and treaty rights.
Q15 What does this mean for anglers?
A15 The proposed changes recognize the importance of the recreational fishery. For anglers, the focus on recreational fisheries would help foster their effective management. The new rules would provide protection to recreational fisheries from threats to their ongoing productivity.
Of particular note for the angling community, regulations will be developed prohibiting the import, transport and possession of live aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carps, which are threatening the Great Lakes.
Q16 What does this mean for conservation groups?
A16 The Minister would be able to enter into agreements with third parties, such as conservation groups, to enable them to undertake measures to enhance fisheries protection. This could include innovative approaches to protect habitat, support for aquatic invasive species outreach and engagement, developing standards for fish protection or other matters.
Q17 What does this mean for landowners and municipalities?
A17 For landowners and municipalities, the proposed new measures would provide regulatory certainty as to whether and how the fisheries protection provisions apply to them. It moves Fisheries and Oceans Canada away from reviewing every activity that landowners may undertake to focus on activities that may have a significant impact on the sustainability and productivity of recreational, commercial or Aboriginal fisheries.
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