West Coast Environmental Law

West Coast Environmental Law

April 24, 2012 14:09 ET

Environmental Lawyers Warn: Oil and Water Don't Mix

Fisheries Act Changes Shaping Up to Be 'Give-Away' to Big Oil and Mining Companies

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 24, 2012) - Today's Fisheries Act announcements are another give-away to big oil and mining companies coated in a thin veneer of conservation say environmental lawyers at the West Coast Environmental Law Association.

Upcoming rollbacks to fisheries legislation announced today would exempt many major developments from fisheries review. Elements of fish habitat not specifically listed in legislation would be stripped of protection.

"We know from experience whose interests are favoured when the federal government uses legislation to pick and choose what fish habitat gets protection - the legalized use of fish lakes as tailings ponds, and new rules that will recklessly fast track megaprojects that could result in devastation of fish habitat," said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law.

The new Department of Fisheries and Oceans approach would set up a number of unscientific hurdles before fish and fish habitat would receive protection equivalent to what they receive today -which is already limited by sweeping and largely unfettered Ministerial discretion to allow destruction of fish habitat.

"Today's announcements are peppered with new loopholes and exemptions that come at the expense of fish and those whose livelihoods and cultures rely on healthy fish habitat. The bottom line is the legal protection for fish habitat will be weakened by the proposed Fisheries Act changes announced today," stated Clogg.

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