The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has introduced significant amendments to the Fisheries Act. Here are excerpts from the remarks I will make when debate resumes next week.
“I am honoured and inspired to rise today in the House to speak on Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, and to highlight how the new Act will strengthen engagement with Canadians, enhance transparency in fisheries activities and ultimately improve the health of fish and fish habitat. This new legislation will go a long way to restoring and strengthening the public trust that was so badly damaged by the previous government.
Our 2016 consultation process engaged thousands of Canadians who expressed grave concerns. They spoke about the importance of science and academic freedom. Indigenous peoples offered voices of experience and traditional knowledge. Commercial fishers told me they don’t feel included in decision making in ways they once were. People on the Sunshine Coast are desperate to have monitoring and enforcement capacity restored.
These amendments recommend that decisions be guided by the principles of sustainability, by the precautionary principle and by an ecosystem management approach. In 1959 Roderick Haig Brown wrote: ‘The salmon runs are, in truth, the wealth of the Pacific Ocean brought readily back to the hand and use of man. For his part, man has used them and abused them, injured and restored them. He knows enough to multiply them even beyond their original abundance – and he is threatening them with total destruction’. May our debate take his words seriously.”
- protection for all fish and fish habitats
- restoring the previous prohibition against ‘harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat’
- strengthening the role of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development and honouring traditional knowledge
- the ability to put short-term measures in place to respond to threats to fish that may suddenly arise
- restoring a prohibition against causing ‘the death of fish by means other than fishing’
- full transparency for projects with a public registry
- promoting restoration of degraded habitat and rebuilding depleted fish stocks
- strengthening the long-term protection of marine refuges
- clarifying and updating enforcement powers to address emerging fisheries issues and to align with current provisions in other legislation
Of course, it is impossible for me to debate anything to do with fisheries without introducing the important topic of the open net salmon aquaculture on the coast of British Columbia. This will be a topic for a future Pull of the Tide.
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