New “Fisheries Act”

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» Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Revisions to the Fisheries Act

Canada releases its revised Fisheries Act today (November 25, 2013), with subtle but important changes to definitions of fish habitat, and harm to fish habitat.

Under the Act (Section 35(1)), “No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery.”

The Department has defined ‘serious’ harm to fish as:

1) “the death of fish;

2) a permanent alteration to fish habitat of a spatial scale, duration or intensity that limits or diminishes the ability of fish to use such habitats as spawning grounds, or as nursery, rearing, or food supply areas, or as a migration corridor, or any other area in order to carry out one or more of their life processes; or,

3) the destruction of fish habitat of a spatial scale, duration, or intensity that fish can no longer rely upon such habitats for use as spawning grounds, or as nursery, rearing, or food supply areas, or as a migration corridor, or any other area in order to carry out one or more of their life processes.

The Act still requires that flows be provided to downstream watercourses, that fish not be killed, and that deleterious substances not be deposited.

There may be fewer Fisheries Act reviews for local land development projects, but that ‘slack’ may be picked up by stronger protection policies being implemented at the level of the local conservation authorities. We fully anticipate that fisheries-related issues in headwater systems will remain on the agenda for local projects.