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What modern safeguards should be instituted in order to ensure appropriate protections for fish and fish habitat?

Restore habitat protection

SCORE:
4.9
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/10/2016 1478736828
Tags:
Fish need healthy habitat to survive. Important habitat protections were removed from the Fisheries Act through Bill C-38. These protections need to b .... Read More

Fish need healthy habitat to survive. Important habitat protections were removed from the Fisheries Act through Bill C-38. These protections need to be restored, and strengthened, to ensure that fish habitat is protected with legislation. A restored Fisheries Act should ensure that no person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.

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55

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Restore the net gain policy

SCORE:
4.9
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/10/2016 1478736885
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Canada used to have "no net loss" of fish habitat policy, with an overall goal of a "net gain" of fish habitat through restoration of lost habitat. Ca .... Read More

Canada used to have "no net loss" of fish habitat policy, with an overall goal of a "net gain" of fish habitat through restoration of lost habitat. Canada needs to restore a "net gain" policy, through statute or regulations, that protects critical habitat that cannot be replicated, fully compensates for approved habitat impacts, and supports restoration of lost habitat.

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43

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Number of Idea ratings

135

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Number of people following the idea

52

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Restore protection for all fish

SCORE:
4.9
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/10/2016 1478736739
Tags:
All native fish and their habitat in Canada need protection, not just those that support commercial or recreational fisheries. The Fisheries Act is C .... Read More

All native fish and their habitat in Canada need protection, not just those that support commercial or recreational fisheries. The Fisheries Act is Canada's most important tool for protecting lakes, rivers and aquatic species across the country.

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165

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Number of suggested comments

40

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Number of Idea ratings

134

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Number of people following the idea

47

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Online national fish habitat mapping

SCORE:
4.7
Theme:Opportunities for Partnerships and Collaborations
on 10/17/2016 1476722164
Many provinces, municipalities, conservation groups, universities, the federal government, industries, etc. have surveyed and mapped fish habitat in .... Read More

Many provinces, municipalities, conservation groups, universities, the federal government, industries, etc. have surveyed and mapped fish habitat in various parts of Canada. It would be an ambitious but worthwhile project to combine all of these sources of data (some of which are likely in print only) into a national, online, publicly assessable fish habitat map. Even if some data are a bit outdated, this online tool could be regularly updated and improved. 

With such a map, an individual or company could readily access existing information to help locate their proposed project where it would result in lower impacts to fish, right from the start. This could save time and money if plans don't need to be altered as much later to reduce impacts. Academics and students could possibly use this data to analyze fish habitat impacts and recommend best practices. Indigenous, conservation, and educational groups could help fill identified gaps in fish habitat information.

Moving forward, I'm wondering if data collectors could be trained through something similar to Environment Canada and Climate Change Canada's CABIN Program (link below).

http://www.ec.gc.ca/rcba-cabin/default.asp?lang=En&n=72AD8D96-1

Does anyone have thoughts on how we could address with data integrity/standardization of existing habitat mapping??

 

 

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Removal of Fish Farms

SCORE:
4.8
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/14/2016 1479140281
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Get rid of ocean-based fish farms, specifically those raising Atlantic Salmon. There is lots of data as to the damage done by fish farms situated in o .... Read More

Get rid of ocean-based fish farms, specifically those raising Atlantic Salmon. There is lots of data as to the damage done by fish farms situated in ocean waters, whether it be Norway, Chile, or BC.

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34

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9

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Number of Idea ratings

20

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11

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Re-Evaluate Self-Assessment Option for Projects

SCORE:
4.6
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/02/2016 1478115343
DFO must review the project self-assessment option they provide to proponents.  While I respect DFO's effort to minimize administration and red tape .... Read More

DFO must review the project self-assessment option they provide to proponents.  While I respect DFO's effort to minimize administration and red tape around minor and routine projects, there is no requirement for a proponent to notify DFO of their work by using this option.  DFO simply has no idea what is going on across the country and how these projects may be impacting fish and fish habitat.

In my experience, many proponents (especially smaller ones) do not have a clear understanding of how the Fisheries Act applies to their project nor do they have a good understanding of the environment they are working in.  I suspect many proponents are stretching the limits of how they are applying the exemptions to their project.  Since DFO has no way of knowing where and when these projects are occurring, there is no way to determine if the projects are being done properly with minimal impact to fish and fish habitat.  At the very least, DFO must incorporate a notification process for each time the self-assessment option is used.

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8

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14

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10

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A Case Study on the Legacy of the FA Changes

SCORE:
4.9
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/16/2016 1479330873
The revisions to the Fisheries Act under the previous government substantively changed DFO’s habitat management framework.  The amendments coll .... Read More

The revisions to the Fisheries Act under the previous government substantively changed DFO’s habitat management framework.  The amendments collectively narrowed the focus of the Act from protecting fish habitat to protecting fisheries, and allow damage to fish habitat so long as there is no permanent alteration or destruction of habitat or death of fish.  Administrative policies adopted following the Fisheries Act amendments further contributed to the dilution of the former statutory protections of fish habitat.  All of this is compounded by a lack of financial and human resources required to undertake the studies and research required to make effective science-based decisions.

Impact of the Changes – A Case Study

A project (“Project”) submitted to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in April, 2016 for review under section 35 of the Fisheries Act serves as a useful case study of how the changes to the Fisheries Act, coupled with a lack of adequate sound scientific knowledge and study of our marine resources, operate in practice.

The Project involves a proposal to create an anchorages area for large commercial freighters.  The Project area covers an area of water and fish habitat that is well over twice the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park along the Georgia Strait coast of Gabriola Island, within British Columbia’s legislatively protected Islands Trust Area.  An environmental overview assessment prepared by a private consultant engaged by the Project proponents did not include any site specific study, apart from a survey by a remotely operated vehicle of less than 1/1000th of the Project area conducted over a few hours on a single day.  

Baseline conditions for the Project area were inferred from published literature that is neither area /site-specific nor based on quantitative data.  The consultant repeatedly flagged the limitations of the assessment in its report:  “Quantitative assessment of the Anchorage area was largely absent within this high-level EOA”. “[Consultant name (redacted)] recognizes that there is a lack of specific, quantitative information.  There is potential that expert advice or quantitative information, should it become available, would change the effects characterization and significance determination(s)”.

Independent and highly regarded scientists, who are experts in their respective fields, reviewed the report and expressed their views that there is a lack of adequate quantitative scientific information to properly assess the potential impacts of the Project on fish habitat, CRA fisheries and marine mammals, including Species at Risk.

Notwithstanding these limitations, DFO’s Fisheries Protection Program decided that a qualitative assessment alone was adequate for this Project, and decided that the Project required neither a review, nor an authorization under the Fisheries Act. 

Thus, a huge area of productive habitat in British Columbia’s coastal waters has been consigned to the waste heap.  Scouring of the sea floor by anchor chains dragging along the seabed as ships shift in the wind and current, industrial activities including bunkering, transhipping of coal/ other cargoes, ship repairs, diesel generator noise, and turbulence created by anchor and chain deployment and redeployment, can now commence in the proposed Project area, (and based on this DFO decision, anywhere else in our territorial waters), without any knowledge of what organisms and species live or depend on the habitat there, without any reliable baseline information from which to measure the harm caused by these activities, and without any knowledge, understanding or quantitative study of actual impacts and their duration.  

The DFO decision not to require comprehensive site-specific quantitative studies of the proposed Project area sets a precedent that carries with it the potential for cumulative, large-scale transformation of the entire ecosystem of the Strait of Georgia in the absence of reliable scientific baseline information about fish, fish habitat, marine mammals and other aquatic species and without any meaningful assessment of potential impacts.

This is the practical impact and legacy of the changes to the Fisheries Act. 

Recommended Changes

  • Restore the former prohibition against harmful alteration or destruction of fish habitat and reverse the introduction of the ‘permanent’ harm concept.
  • Move away from a fisheries productivity model that focusses on protecting resources that are [presently known to be] inputs to producing fish for fisheries, to a model that recognizes the importance of protecting ecosystems, and gaining a better understanding of interdependencies and resources that are required to sustain them.
  • Implement more rigorous review of proposed projects on a cost-recovery basis. Carefully review (and regularly reconsider) administrative protocols that provide for special or ‘light touch’ treatment of development proposals, including government or governmental agency-sponsored projects, to determine whether they are consistent with conservation objectives and based on sound, current, scientific knowledge.
  • Address knowledge gaps. Where a comprehensive body of up to date, area-specific, quantitative information is not available, require such studies to be undertaken at the cost of project proponents, under the supervision of DFO scientists.

 

Thank you for recognizing that this review is required and for seeking input from those who have first-hand experience of the failings of the current regime.

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land based fish farms

SCORE:
3.8
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 10/19/2016 1476898282
Tags:
Move all fish farms from open oceans to land based farms
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8

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Hold Fisheries Managers Accountable

SCORE:
3.2
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 10/23/2016 1477196402
Tags:
Fisheries managers have to be held accountable for their actions. We can improve data collection, increase transparency, and work through all aspects .... Read More

Fisheries managers have to be held accountable for their actions. We can improve data collection, increase transparency, and work through all aspects of the management plans but it means little if managers are not willing to do their job. 

Any ideas on how we can hold fisheries managers accountable?

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