OTTAWA – Ecojustice law and policy experts issued the following statement in response to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard’s introduction of a bill to amend the Fisheries Act:

Margot Venton, Nature Program Director said:

“We are pleased to see that the amended Fisheries Act legislation will restore the lost protections previously afforded to fish habitat. This is a key improvement which will help achieve the broad, precautionary and enforceable legal protection necessary to safeguard Canada’s fisheries and the lakes, rivers, and oceans that sustain them. Today, the Government of Canada lived up to its promise to restore those lost protections and modernize the Fisheries Act.

“The new public registry proposed in the bill will, for the first time, make information on permits granted under the Fisheries Act available to all Canadians. The improved access to information will help government and civil society understand the cumulative effects of harmful human activity to fish and fish habitat. We are optimistic that the new legal requirement proposed in the bill will finally lead to smarter decisions based on science that will safeguard fish and their habitat.”

“While it is important to recognize that the bill also confirmed the Minister’s power to make orders curtailing the harmful effects of destructive fishing activities and allows him to take a “precautionary” and “ecosystem” approach, we still need to see these principles enshrined in law as requirements for fisheries decision-making. This could be done through a broader and much needed review of the Fisheries Act as a whole which would allow the government to build on the strong concepts introduced in this bill.”

Joshua Ginsberg, Director of Legislative Affairs added:

“We praise the government’s decision to fund up to $284.2 million to support restoring lost protections to fish, which includes our recommendation to invest in the enforcement and monitoring of violations. We look forward to the next report to Parliament on Fisheries Act enforcement to see the results of the new resources.

“We will continue to work with parliamentarians as the positive changes announced today get fine-tuned through legislative process. We are hopeful that the result will be new legislation that effectively protects our precious aquatic resources now, and well into the future.”

The new legislative changes will now proceed to second reading and committee.