Environmental Policy News

Canada Introduces New Protections for Fish and Their Habitat

From coast to coast to coast, Canadians have signaled their strong passion for protecting the fish and fish habitat that play such a vital role in our environment, our communities and our livelihoods. Now, Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard have announced amendments to the Fisheries Act that would restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards to protect our fish and their habitat for generations to come.

The Government of Canada is putting in place better rules to protect our environment. The proposed amendments introduced today would restore the protections to all fish and fish habitats that were lost with changes that were made in 2012. Proposed changes would also put in place new modern safeguards to help our communities by better managing projects, enhancing marine protection and allowing the sustainable use of our resources while protecting them for our future.

The government will invest up to $284.2 million to support restoring lost protections to fish and incorporating modern safeguards.

“To preserve, protect and help restore our environment we need a Fisheries Act that Canadians can trust. Today, I am pleased we are introducing amendments to the Fisheries Act that will restore the protections for fish and fish habitat that were lost under the previous government. We are responding to calls from Canadians who told us clearly that the health of our fish and ecosystems is important to them, and that they want us to protect and rebuild fish habitat. By restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards, we are creating a Fisheries Act for the future to preserve our precious resources for generations to come,” said Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

As part of the Government of Canada’s Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes, the Government of Canada is restoring protections and rebuilding trust. Fisheries and Oceans Canada consulted broadly, hearing from thousands of Canadians, to ensure changes to the Act focus on the areas that matter most to Canadians. The new Fisheries Act reflects what we heard from two rounds of online public consultations, over a hundred meetings with partners, stakeholders and Indigenous groups, and recommendations from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Quick Facts

  • The 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; and
  • clarify and modernize enforcement powers to address emerging fisheries issues and to align with current provisions in other legislation.

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