For more than a year, the federal government has proposed revisions to the Fisheries Act meant to protect fish and fish habitat. Primarily, these revisions restore provisions of the Act that had been changed by the previous government. As well, the proposed changes are to provide clarity on efforts to both manage the fisheries and rebuild depleted fish stocks, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and set the stage for better management of projects.
Specifically, the revised Act will restore protections like protection for all fish species and their habitats, the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption and destruction of fish habitat (HADD) and a prohibition against causing “the death of fish by means other than fishing”. This means that all projects in and around streams and lakes will have to be reviewed by Federal Fisheries staff.
The Act has passed through both the House of Commons and the Senate and we understand is awaiting completions of the Regulations that are required under the Act before receiving Royal Assent. Consultation on the regulations closed on May 3, 2019 and now the regulations are being finalized. We anticipate that the legislation will receive Royal Assent in the next couple of months. We have also heard that Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are adding staff in the regional offices to manage both project reviews and enforcement.
For more information, go to www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/fisheries-act-loi-sur-les-peches/protection-eng.hmtl.