The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, announced that the Harper government will introduce changes to protect the productivity of recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries. This means focusing protection rules on real and significant threats to these fisheries and the habitat that supports them while setting clear standards and guidelines for routine projects. It also means strengthening partnerships with provinces and conservation groups as well as creating better tools to ensure compliance and enforce the rules where necessary.
“Our government is committed to adopting a more sensible and practical approach to protecting Canada’s fisheries and making sure they are productive and sustainable for future generations,” said Minister Ashfield.
“We have been clear that the current rules governing the protection of fish habitat are indiscriminate and unfocused and do not reflect the priorities of Canadians,” continued Minister Ashfield. “We are committed to making sure our rules protect the fisheries that Canadians value and the habitat that supports them. We can do this while giving Canadians the freedom to maintain their properties and minimizing restrictions on everyday activities that have little to no impact on Canada’s fisheries.”
Under the Fisheries Act, no distinction is drawn between the vital waterways, lakes and rivers that support Canada’s fisheries and small bodies of water that may not even be home to fish. For example, under the current system, drainage ditches, man made reservoirs and irrigation channels are subject to the same rules and guidelines as rivers, lakes, and oceans that support fish and local fisheries.
"The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) agrees that Canada's fish habitat protection policies need to be improved and we are encouraged by the government's commitment to the conservation of Canada's recreational fisheries” said Dr. Terry Quinney, Provincial Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services. We are convinced that with the participation of stakeholders like the OFAH and others across the country, that better protection and enhancement of our fisheries, habitat and aquatic ecosystems can be achieved. We look forward to working with the Minister and Government of Canada on these important issues."
“Our government recognizes that Canada’s fisheries are important to Canadians. We simply want the rules to focus on these priorities and ensure our fisheries continue to be protected,” said the Minister.
“For many years, landowners and municipalities have discussed the reviews completed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans locally” stated MP Joe This proposed legislation moves Fisheries and Oceans Canada away from reviewing every activity of landowners. It draws a distinction between vital waterways and unproductive bodies of water like man-made reservoirs, drainage ditches and irrigation channels
According to the most recent survey on recreational fishing in Canada, recreational fishing generates approximately $8.3 billion of economic activities to local economies across Canada. Approximately 3.3 million Canadians take part in recreational fisheries and the industry brings over 2 million tourists into the country every year. Fish and seafood is one of the largest single food commodities exported by Canada. The commercial fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors employ about 80,000 Canadians. The Government also recognizes the importance of fishing to the Aboriginal people of Canada and will continue to respect Aboriginal and treaty rights and protect food, social and ceremonial fisheries.