OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 27, 2012) - The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada is taking the next steps in its new approach to protect recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries and the fish habitat on which they depend. As a part of this new approach, the Minister launched a nationwide public engagement and consultations process to be held throughout the summer and fall to develop the policy and regulatory framework that will support changes to the Fisheries Act adopted by the House of Commons earlier this month.
"Our government values the input, expertise and advice our partners and stakeholders can provide in this process," said Minister Ashfield. "The specific protection of Canada's recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries will now be enshrined in law, which is excellent news for fishermen across the country."
The Government is proposing to move forward with a standards-based and intelligence-led approach to fisheries protection that would allow officials to focus their efforts on high risk projects and on risk-based, targeted enforcement activities.
Through these proposed changes to the Fisheries Act, the Government would strengthen its ability to enforce Fisheries Act authorizations as well as align penalties with the stricter Environmental Enforcement Act for those who break the rules.
The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act also provide for enhanced partnerships with third parties to enable Canadians to continue to meet the fisheries protection provisions of the Act and enable them to play a greater stewardship role.
Throughout summer and fall 2012, the Department intends to engage First Nations and Aboriginal Groups, the provinces, territories and municipalities, as well as wildlife and conservation groups, municipalities, and associations representing major project developers and landowners in a series of roundtables and meetings.
At the same time, the Department is making changes to its operations that will see it focus on addressing key threats to the productivity of the fisheries, while adopting a more practical, common-sense approach to dealing with lower risk projects that have little or no impact on the productivity of the fisheries.
"Canadians understand that there is a difference between low-risk projects, such as a new dock at the cottage, and high-risk projects, such as a hydro-electric dam or mining operations. Our new rules will reflect this difference and our operations will be adjusted to reflect these rules," said Minister Ashfield.
Professional departmental staff work with project proponents and monitor their activities on the ground, and they enforce the rules when necessary. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will also continue to benefit from partnerships with Regional Conservation Authorities and provincial governments to assist in conservation efforts and the protection of Canada's fisheries and the fish habitat on which they depend.
For more information, visit www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, announced today the next steps in his Department's move to strengthen the protection of Canada's recreational, commercial, and Aboriginal fisheries, including the habitat they depend on. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is proposing to move forward with a standards-based and intelligence-led approach to fisheries protection that will allow its officials to focus their efforts on high risk projects and on risk-based, targeted enforcement activities. Minister Ashfield announced that national consultations would begin after Parliament adopts proposed Fisheries Act changes to help renew and update the federal policy and regulatory framework in support of these changes.
ENGAGING CANADIANS IN RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES CONSERVATION
In the coming months, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will work to develop a new Fisheries Protection Policy and a regulatory plan to support changes to the Fisheries Act, as well as to provide a foundation for a new Fisheries Protection Program. These changes aim to focus protection on Canada's recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries.
Through Summer and Fall 2012, the Department will engage Canadians, through a series of roundtables and meetings, and online, to get their feedback on various elements of the Government of Canada's fisheries protection approach.
Input from stakeholders and partners who share the Government's commitment to fisheries protection will help ensure our program effectively supports and protects the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries.
Our goals are to:
- Ensure Canadians understand how the legislative changes will support the productivity and sustainability of our fisheries for future generations;
- Determine how best to design the policy and regulatory tools that will help us to apply the new fisheries protection provisions; and
- Establish how we can work with partners across the country to better protect and enhance our fisheries, habitat and aquatic ecosystems.
Opportunities to get involved
Since the proposed Fisheries Act changes were announced in April 2012, numerous groups have received technical briefings from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Over the coming months, the Department will continue to engage those interested in fisheries protection - from conservation, Aboriginal and hunting and angling groups to municipalities, academics and industry groups.
Canadians will also have the opportunity to comment on proposed regulatory tools as they are developed. The draft tools will be published in the Canada Gazette. Comments received will help to refine the tools before they are adopted.
Visit www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca often to find out more about events or meetings in your area.