Provide Your Feedback on the Fisheries Act Review – Deadline Jan 20

Dear BCMF Members,

As part of the ongoing regulatory review, the BCMF Consultation Office has been asked to provide feedback on review and revision to the Fisheries Act, some of our strongest legislation for environmental protection. Please review the following information and provide your thoughts to with the heading “Fisheries Review” by January 20. Your input is valuable, and you will remain anonymous.

Fisheries Act Review:
The Fisheries Act gives the government authority to manage Canadian fisheries and to protect the habitat that supports them. The federal governments is currently undertaking a review of the Fisheries Act. This review will examine changes made to the Fisheries Act in 2012/2013 and propose ways to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Act.

In particular, the review will focus on the following legislative changes to the Fisheries Act:
1. the scope of application of the Fisheries Act, and specifically the serious harm to fish prohibition;
2. how the prohibition is implemented to protect fish and fish habitat;
3. the definition of serious harm to fish, and the definitions of commercial, recreational, and Aboriginal fisheries;
4. the use of regulatory authorities under the Fisheries Act, and other related provisions of the Act; and
5. the capacity of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to deliver on fish and fish habitat protection through project review, monitoring and enforcement.

Background Information:
Since the federal government amended the Fisheries Act, Indigenous groups and other stakeholders expressed concern with the changes and how they were implemented. Indigenous and environmental groups, in particular, argued that the changes weakened fish habitat protection.

The previous Fisheries Act included two principal prohibitions:
1. a prohibition against the destruction of fish by means other than fishing; and
2. a prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat (HAAD prohibition).
When the Fisheries Act was amended, a key change was the replacement of these two prohibitions with one new prohibition against “the carrying on of a work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of or support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery.” In the current Act, “serious harm to fish” is defined as: “the death of fish or the permanent alteration to, or destruction of, fish habitat”. “Fish habitat” is defined as: “spawning grounds and any other areas, including nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas, on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes.”

In addition, the terms commercial, recreational and Aboriginal, in relation to fisheries, are also defined in the current Act as follows:
a. Commercial, in relation to a fishery, means that fish is harvested under the authority of a licence for the purpose of sale, trade or barter;
b. Recreational, in relation to a fishery, means that fish is harvested under the authority of a licence for personal use of the fish or for sport;
c. Aboriginal, in relation to a fishery, means that fish is harvested by an Aboriginal organization or any of its members for the purpose of using the fish as food, for social or ceremonial purposes or for purposes set out in a land claims agreement entered into with the Aboriginal organization.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has the authority to issue authorizations that would allow the works, activities or undertakings to occur that cause serious harm to fish, under certain conditions.

The amendments described above will be one of the main focuses of the Fisheries Act review.

More information can be found at the following link:

Kelly S. Davison, BCMF Consultation Director

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