Addressing threats to fish and fish habitat
Each year, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) report to Parliament on their efforts to administer and enforce the fish and fish habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. In recent years, this annual report has been modernized to share the many ways that DFO and ECCC protect fish and fish habitat and to prevent pollution, beyond enforcing the relevant provisions of the Act.
The Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program (FFHPP) uses a number of tools and approaches to address threats and conserve and protect fish and fish habitat for future generations.
Many people and organizations care about protecting and conserving fish and fish habitat.
In the fall of 2020, we started engaging with a wide range of people and communities through our platform at talkfishhabitat.ca.
Our goal is to develop products to support the implementation of the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. Our approach considers previous engagement work, Indigenous engagement and consultation considerations, modern treaty requirements, and the Government of Canada’s engagement principles and guidelines.
Supporting restoration of fish habitat
The goal of fish habitat restoration is to rebuild a healthy and functioning ecosystem that supports fish throughout their lifecycle. This work happens in various places like rivers, coastlines, and wetlands.
The Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund is a program that supports projects conserving and restoring marine ecosystems, on all of Canada’s coasts and further inland. This program replaces the Coastal Restoration Fund, which provided funding to over 60 projects to restore aquatic habitat and contribute to the survival and recovery of threatened and endangered species.
We are starting a new project to figure out the most critical areas to focus on for fish habitat restoration. This will help different organizations work together and make better decisions about how to manage resources. The Framework to Identify Fish Habitat Restoration Priorities will be used by different regions to decide which areas need the most attention for restoration. These priorities may be used by DFO for funding programs, to inform habitat offsetting and banking required under the Fisheries Act, and to restore and maintain wild Pacific salmon. Other groups working on restoration may also use these priorities to help them decide which projects to focus on and to help plan how to manage resources.
We are committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples through a renewed relationship as outlined in our Reconciliation Strategy.
- A couple of examples of work focused on reconciliation related to fish and fish habitat conservation and protection are:
- The Indigenous Habitat Participation Program.This program was launched in 2019 and supports the involvement of Indigenous peoples in the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat through providing funding to Indigenous recipients to support their participation in engagement and collaboration activities.
- The Indigenous Knowledge Policy Framework for Project Reviews and Regulatory Decisions which sets out an overarching, principles-based approach to support the consistent application of the Indigenous Knowledge (IK) provisions in the Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and in relation to the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act while recognizing regional, cultural, and distinctions-based approaches to IK.
Regulatory review and advice
The FFHPP continues to develop guidance for proponents on best practices, management measures and standards that can be used to prevent harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat when conducting works, undertakings, and activities in or near water.
The Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat and Codes of Practice are important tools for helping proponents to plan and carry out their projects responsibly.
The FFHPP also conducts regulatory reviews for projects that do not meet the conditions in a code of practice and can cause harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat. This is done by applying the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act, in combination with the relevant provisions of the Species at Risk Act and the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations.
DFO’s fish and fish habitat protection policy statement explains and outlines how we implement the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act, and how we interpret and apply the regulatory and non-regulatory tools available to support the effective and efficient conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat.
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