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Annex A: legislative amendements

1 Fisheries Act

Bill C-68 currently awaits second reading in the Senate, which is expected to take place in the fall of 2018. Some provisions of the Bill, including the new fish and fish habitat protection provisions, will not come into force at Royal Assent. They will come into force at a later date to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

A key feature of Bill C-68 is the introduction of a purpose provision stating that the purpose of the Act is to provide a framework for the proper management and control of fisheries, and the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat. When making any decision under the Act, the Minister will also have a statutory duty to consider any adverse effects that such a decision could have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, as recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

1.1 Habitat protection

One of the major changes to the Act involves the habitat protection provisions (section 35 related provisions). The current regime, as a result of the 2012 amendments to the Act, only offers limited protection to the habitat of fish in that it only prohibits the permanent alteration or destruction of fish habitat and such protection only applies to the fish habitat of fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fisheries, or to fish that support such a fisheries. Under the Bill, the scope of the protection will revert to the pre-2012 protection regime and expand the prohibition to all harmful alteration, disruption and destruction (HADD) of fish habitat. Furthermore, the protection will apply to the habitat of all fish species, whether fished or not. The death of fish by means other than fishing will be prohibited in a separate section.

Other significant changes to the habitat protection provisions of the Act will include such things as:

1.2 Fisheries management

Bill C-68 also proposes several amendments to fisheries management provisions, notably to:

2 Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

Bill C-55 proposes amendments to the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA). The Bill was introduced in the House on June 15, 2017, and is awaiting second reading in the Senate. The proposed amendments will help expedite the designation process of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to achieve Canada’s marine conservation targets by 2020.

The most important amendments in the Bill will allow the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to designate MPAs by way of Ministerial Order, on an interim basis, for a period not exceeding 5 years. The Order will have the effect of prohibiting most new activities that have not been conducted within the area over the year preceding the coming into force of the Order. This authority will allow the Minister to effectively “freeze the footprint” of a given area until further studies and measures can be identified to secure sustainable activities in that area. Within the 5-year timeframe, the Minister shall either recommend that a permanent Marine Protected Area be established through Governor in Council regulations or determine that the Ministerial Order be repealed.

Other significant changes to the Oceans Act include:

This enactment also makes related amendments to the CPRA to, among other things:

3 Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, Bill C-64 will enact the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act. The Bill passed third reading before the House of Commons, and has been reported to the Senate. When adopted, this Act will provide authorities to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, represented by the CCG, to deal with abandoned or hazardous vessels, including their removal and destruction. The owner of the vessel will be liable for costs and expenses of measures related to the hazard caused by the vessel. The Act will also create offenses for abandoning a vessel. It will incorporate the International Convention on Removal of Wrecks into Canadian law. The responsibilities of the Act will be shared between DFO and Transport Canada.

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