February 15, 2018 – Fisheries Act Amendments Introduced – Update by Robert Moos, GBA Director, Blackstone Lake
On February 6th the Trudeau government introduced in the House of Commons significant amendments to the federal Fisheries Act.
The Fisheries Act has been in force for decades. It protects fish and their habitat. Projects that may have negative impacts, such as construction of bridges, pipelines across streams and rivers, and other structures, are subject to federal review and require permits.
In 2012 the federal government reduced the scope of the act. This was partly a means to facilitate approval of energy projects, and may also have been intended to reduce staffing requirements. Instead of applying to all fish species, the act was amended in 2012 so that it applied only to commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fish stocks and their habitat. There were other changes as well. For many lakes and streams, proposed projects no longer required permits. This cut the number of federal Fisheries Act reviews by about half.
The new amendments will, if passed, restore the old scope of the Fisheries Act. It will apply to all fish and their habitat. The amendments will also:
- Provide enhanced consideration of Aboriginal interests and involvement;
- Enhance tools for dealing with commercial license holders and their interests;
- Clarify what projects will require authorization through permitting and codes of practice;
- Enhance provisions for protecting fish and, for the first time, cetaceans;
- Provide flexibility for out of court settlements.
The government has also committed to spend an additional $284 million on related fisheries enhancement measures and enforcement over the next five years. This is critical, as the number of Fisheries Officers has been reduced over the years. It is too soon to say how this may impact Georgian Bay and its tributaries. However, a stronger Fisheries Act can only be beneficial and may give us more leverage in our ongoing efforts on cage aquaculture.
June 4, 2015 – Environment Bill of Rights – GBA Response to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resouces and Forestry (OMNR&F) recent posting
The following three documents were written in response to a recent posting on the Environmental Bill of Rights web site by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNR&F). This posting was to advise the public that the existing commercial aquaculture licenses were being renewed including a 20% increase in feed quota and, in one case, the ability to raise other species of fish than Rainbow Trout. GBA objects to this increased feed quota as it will translate into 20% more pollution coming from these cage operations into public waters. We also feel that the increased feed quota and the introduction of different fish species should trigger a more fulsome Environmental Screening process than has been used by the OMNR&F to date. The three documents are; our response to the OMNR&F on their EBR positing, a letter to the Premier detailing our concerns and a letter to Environment Canada in their role as the Canadian overseer for the bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which has strong language in it concerning phosphorous pollution.
- Letter re Aquaculture and the GLWQA to the GLEC May 12 Final
- EBR Response re Aquaculture May 26 2015
- Letter to Premier Wynne May 28 2015 FINAL
Mandate and Priorities
- Lobby government ministries in order to move the aquaculture industry to environmental sustainable practices
- Monitor the progression of US and Canadian Legislation on Aquaculture
- Attend government and industry sessions that focus on aquaculture and/ or phosphorus in the Great Lakes
- Provide open communication and liaison between the GBA . First Nation Bands, and other NGO’s (Great Lakes United, David Suzuki Foundation, Sea Choice, Ontario Nature, etc.) who share concerns about open cage aquaculture in the Great Lakes basin.
- Monitor Provincial postings for license applications and regulation changes for Cage Aquaculture and submit comments.
- Educate the GBA Association members on the issues regarding cage aquaculture
- In coordination with Georgian Bay Forever, prepare to actively lobby at all levels of Government when US legislation for ballast water treatment on ocean vessels is passed.
- Support the education of GBA association members on
- How to identify new invasive species
- Impact of invasive species on their local aquatic environment
- Steps to prevent the spread of invasive species
- Work in partnership with the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council (EGBSC) on native fisheries projects
- Monitor and lobby the MNR on fisheries issues
- Educate members of the cottager’s associations on:
- Local fisheries initiatives (eg. bass nests, walleye restoration), cormorants, commercial fisheries, MNR studies and updated fishing regulation