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Request a review of your project near water: Step 2. Understand the project review process

Before you request a review of your project or a project authorization, understand the overview of steps in this process:

1 Avoiding risks to fish and fish habitat

We encourage all project proponents to avoid causing the death of fish and the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.

The measures to protect fish and fish habitat will help proponents avoid risks to fish and fish habitat. If there are aquatic species at risk in the area, proponents must also avoid harming, harassing, capturing or taking those species. Proponents who can implement these measures do not require a project review by the program.

2 Mitigating risks to fish and fish habitat

The Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program recognizes that certain projects:

  • must take place in or near water
  • have the potential to cause harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat

We’ve developed a series of codes of practice for routine works, undertakings and activities. These provide guidance on how to avoid and mitigate risks to fish and fish habitat and comply with the Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act:

The following interim codes of practice will remain as interim versions and can continue to be used. Further analysis and review is required before final versions of these codes can be published:

3 Regulatory review

The various steps involved in the regulatory review of works, undertakings and activities under the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act (and their respective regulations) are illustrated in the FFHPP Regulatory Review Process Map. The first page of this map demonstrates how proponents should use the guidance found on the Projects Near Water website to determine if a request for review form should be submitted.

In cases where risks to fish and fish habitat cannot be avoided, the project does not fall within waterbodies where our review isn’t required or the scope of the project is not entirely covered under standards and code of practice, proponents are asked to submit a request for review to their Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program regional office.

Once a request for review form is received, the program will review the proposed project to identify risks to fish and fish habitat. The Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program will work with the proponent to ensure that risks are managed in the best way possible. FFHPP Regulatory Review Process Map on pages 2-4 outlines the internal decision making processes, including the review of submitted applications to obtain Fisheries Act authorizations, and the various elements considered while conducting the review of proposed works, undertakings or activities in or near water.

4 Species at Risk Act Permit

Submit a request for review if your project may result in the:

  • death, harm, harassment, capture or taking possession, collection, purchase, sale or trade an individual (or any part or derivative of such an individual) of an aquatic species at risk
  • damage or destruction of the residence of an aquatic species at risk
  • the destruction of any part of the critical habitat of an aquatic species at risk

5 Authorization

If death of fish, the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat will likely result from a project, you are required to obtain an authorization from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard as per Paragraph 34.4(2)(b) or 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act Regulations.

The authorization includes terms and conditions the proponent must follow to avoid, mitigate, offset (i.e. counterbalance impacts), and monitor the impacts to fish and fish habitat resulting from the project. Failure to abide by these terms and conditions is a contravention of the Act and may result in fines.

The Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Policy Statement explains the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act and outlines how the Department will implement these provisions.

If an aquatic species at risk or its critical habitat are also affected by the project, the authorization will also act as a SARA permit, and contain terms and conditions to minimize impacts on the species and its critical habitat. The Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Policy Statement explains the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act and outlines how the Department will implement these provisions.

Offsetting impacts to fish and fish habitat

Offsetting impacts to fish and fish habitat is required when impacts can’t be avoided or mitigated and you’re applying for a project authorization.

The objective of offsetting is to counterbalance unavoidable impacts to fish and fish habitat.

The Policy for Applying Measures to Offset Impacts to Fish and Fish Habitat Under the Fisheries Act provides more offset guidance, consistent with the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of Canada’s Fisheries Act.

It’s recommended that an application for authorization only be pursued after a project review has been completed.

Consult our guidance documents for further information regarding authorizations.

Aboriginal and treaty rights

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the duty to consult, and where appropriate accommodate Indigenous peoples of Canada in relation to Fisheries Act or Species at Risk Act regulatory decisions that may have the potential to impact Aboriginal and treaty rights.

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