Canadians have called for strong legislation that will protect our fish and fish habitat for future generations. Following extensive consultation, we heard from thousands of Canadians, including over 200 Indigenous groups, who said that they want strong, fair and clear legislation that sustains our environment and protects our oceans and waterways.
On February 6, 2018, we introduced proposed amendments to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act.
A healthy and thriving fishing sector is of vital importance to our economy. While protection of fish and fish habitat was a key focus for this legislation, we also looked at changes to support the sustainability of Canada’s marine resources for generations to come.
Why we’re making changes
Changes that were made to the Fisheries Act in 2012 challenged our ability to protect fish and fish habitat.
Canadians, including Indigenous peoples as well as industry and environmental groups, expressed concerns with these changes and how they were made.
As part of the Government of Canada’s Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes, we committed to reviewing the 2012 changes to the Act. We looked at how to:
- restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards
- provide better certainty for industry
- ensure the long-term sustainability of marine resources
- make sure that the Fisheries Act provides strong and meaningful protection for our fish and waters
What changes are proposed
If passed into law, our proposed changes would improve the protection of our fisheries and their ecosystems. Proposed amendments would:
- restore lost protections by returning to comprehensive protection against harming all fish and fish habitat
- strengthen the role of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development
- recognize that decisions can be guided by principles of sustainability, precaution and ecosystem management
- promote restoration of degraded habitat and rebuilding of depleted fish stocks
- allow for the better management of large and small projects impacting fish and fish habitat through a new permitting framework and codes of practice
- create full transparency for projects with a public registry
- create new fisheries management tools to enhance the protection of fish and ecosystems
- strengthen the long-term protection of marine refuges for biodiversity
- help ensure that the economic benefits of fishing remain with the licence holders and their community by providing clear ability to enshrine current inshore fisheries policies into regulations
- clarify and modernize enforcement powers to address emerging fisheries issues and to align with current provisions in other legislation
What happens next
The bill outlining these amendments marks a positive step towards restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act. Moving forward, the bill will be subject to the parliamentary process. Regulations and policies would be developed immediately in consultation with Indigenous groups, provinces and stakeholders to support the implementation of the amendments.
Throughout the parliamentary process, Canadians will have an opportunity to comment and share their views. The public can file written submissions to parliamentary committees or contact their Member of Parliament.
Once a bill passes the House of Commons and the Senate, it requires Royal Assent before finally becoming law.