CHANGES ARE COMING TO FISHERIES ACT
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By Cori Marshall
On February 6, 2018, the federal government introduced Bill C-68 in parliament. The Act to amend the Fisheries Act and Other Acts in consequence will make significant changes to the Fisheries Act including repealing amendments that were made in 2012 under the Conservative government.
Frank Stanek, Manager Media Relations for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), said that "if passed into law, the proposed changes would improve the protection of our fisheries and their ecosystems." The proposed changes would "restore lost protections by returning comprehensive protection against harming all fish and fish habitat."
Stanek explained that "before 2012, the Fisheries Act protected all fish and fish habitat in Canada." Bill C-38 or 2012's omnibus budget bill made broad changes "so that only fish and habitat related to a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery were protected."
Under the proposed changes full protection could be given to Canada's fish and fish habitats. The changes would "include restoring prohibition against harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, otherwise known as HADD, (as well as) restoring a prohibition against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing."
Bill C-68 is not only to reverse the changes that were made six years ago. Some of the proposed changes touch upon improved project management, protection of biodiversity, threat assessment, as well as rebuilding depleted fish stocks.
Stanek explained that the proposed changes "would allow for better management of large and small projects impacting fish and their habitat through a permitting framework and codes of practice, as well as create full transparency for projects with a public registry."
The Act would "help ensure that the economic benefits of fishing remain with the licence holders and their community by providing a clear ability to enshrine current inshore fisheries policies into regulations," Stanek said.
There are still many steps before this bill is passed into law as it has only been introduced in the house and passed First Reading.