Ottawa, Ontario — Canada’s oceans, lakes, and rivers are important to the millions of people, including Indigenous communities, that depend on them for work, food, and recreation and cultural purposes. To ensure these waters and the species that live in them are protected, in 2015 the Government of Canada committed to strengthening fish and fish habitat protections and incorporating modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced an important milestone has been reached towards ensuring the protection and conservation of fish and fish habitat. On August 28, 2019, strengthened fish and fish habitat protection provisions under the modernized Fisheries Act, as well as regulations that support these provisions, officially come into force.
These changes include:
protection for all fish and fish habitats;
restoring the previous prohibition against the “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat”; and,
restoring a prohibition against causing “the death of fish by means other than fishing”.
Updated guidance and information on these new provisions is available on Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s website.
“This is the culmination of a long journey to strengthen protections into the Fisheries Act. Canada is home to the world’s longest coastline and our countless lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands hold one-fifth of the world's freshwater. With a modernized Fisheries Act, we now have the right tools in place to fully protect our fish and fish habitat from coast to coast to coast.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
The Government of Canada announced its intention to propose amendments to the Fisheries Act in 2016. Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, was tabled in Parliament on February 6, 2018. The Bill received royal assent on June 21, 2019.
In developing these new provisions, the Government of Canada consulted broadly with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous peoples, industry stakeholders, environmental non-government organizations, and the public to discuss planned amendments to the Fisheries Act.
The coming into force of these provisions coincides with the coming into force of the Authorizations Concerning Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Regulations, which will repeal and replace the existing Applications for Authorization under Paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act Regulations.
Additional Fisheries Act amendments, to provide for a public registry of decisions made under the fish and fish habitat protection provisions, will be brought into force at a later date.