Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield announced the new approach to protect fish habitats. (Photo: keithashfieldmp.ca)
DFO moves to protect fisheries
Thursday, June 28, 2012, 22:20 (GMT + 9)
Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, has announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is taking the next steps in its new approach to protect recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries and the fish habitat on which they depend. As a part of this new approach, the Minister launched a nationwide public engagement and consultation process to be held throughout the summer and autumn to develop the policy and regulatory framework that will support changes to the Fisheries Act adopted by the House of Commons earlier this month.
“Our government values the input, expertise and advice our partners and stakeholders can provide in this process,” said Ashfield. “The specific protection of Canada’s recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries will now be enshrined in law, which is excellent news for fishermen across the country.”
The Government is proposing to move forward with a standard-based and intelligence-led approach to fisheries protection that would allow officials to focus their efforts on high risk projects and on risk-based, targeted enforcement activities.
Through these proposed changes to the Fisheries Act, the government would strengthen its ability to enforce Fisheries Act authorizations as well as align penalties with the stricter Environmental Enforcement Act for those who break the rules.
The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act also provide for enhanced partnerships with third parties to enable Canadians to continue to meet the fisheries protection provisions of the Act and enable them to play a greater stewardship role.
Throughout summer and fall 2012, the Department intends to engage First Nations and Aboriginal Groups, the provinces, territories and municipalities, as well as wildlife and conservation groups, and associations representing major project developers and landowners in a series of roundtables and meetings.
At the same time, the Department is making changes to its operations that will see it focus on addressing key threats to the productivity of the fisheries, while adopting a more practical, common-sense approach to dealing with lower risk projects that have little or no impact on the productivity of the fisheries.
“Canadians understand that there is a difference between low-risk projects, such as a new dock at the cottage, and high-risk projects, such as a hydro-electric dam or mining operations. Our new rules will reflect this difference and our operations will be adjusted to reflect these rules,” said Ashfield.
Professional departmental staff work with project proponents and monitor their activities on the ground, and they enforce the rules when necessary. DFO will also continue to benefit from partnerships with Regional Conservation Authorities and provincial governments to assist in conservation efforts and the protection of Canada’s fisheries and the fish habitat on which they depend.