Revised Fisheries Act in Force
Effective August 28, 2019, provisions of the new Fisheries Act came into force. The new act includes new protections for fish and fish habitat in the form of standards, codes of practice and guidelines for projects near water. More details can be found on-line at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/campaign-campagne/fisheries-act-loi-sur-les-peches/protection-eng.html.
Summary of the changes
The revised Act restores or implements:
- protection for all fish and fish habitats
- prohibits the ‘harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat’ (HADD)
- prohibits activities, other than fishing, that cause ‘the death of fish’.
- strengthens the role of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development
- promotes restoration of degraded habitats
- allows for better management of large and small projects impacting fish and fish habitat through a new permitting framework and codes of practice
- provides improved protection of fish and/or fish habitats that are sensitive, highly productive, rare or unique
- considers the cumulative effects of development activities on fish and fish habitat; and
- establishes a new requirement to make information on project decisions public through an online registry
Effects of the changes for Waterfront Owners
The changes to the Fisheries Act will require you to contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada if
your project is taking place in or near water. You will be responsible for:
- understanding the impacts your project will likely have on fish and fish habitat
- taking measures to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and fish habitat
- requesting an authorization from the Minister and abiding by the conditions of your authorization when it is not possible to avoid and mitigate project impacts on fish and fish habitat
- ensuring compliance with all statutory instruments, including federal and provincial legislations
Once you submit your project plans for review by DFO, they will:
- identify the potential risks of the project to the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat
- work with you to ensure that impacts are managed in the best way possible
Frankly, these reviews will require waterfront owners to seek further assistance from environmental professionals when planning and implementing your project to ensure you are meeting the provisions of the Act.