What modern safeguards should be instituted in order to ensure appropriate protections for fish and fish habitat?
Each time an authorization for the destruction of habitat is made, or compensation measures are proposed, a natural experiment is begun. Too often the results of these experiments are buried in consultant reports and monitoring plans are cobbled together with no opportunity for peer review or feedback, and conducted in such a manner that no clear evaluation of the activities is possible. Rather, some means of involvement by either DFO research scientists (perhaps not given the conflict of interest with DFO as the regulator) or academics (e.g., funding from the proponent to support research activities) would provide opportunities to both evaluate the effectiveness of recovery and compensation measures, as well as better identify best practices for future development to help mitigate the effects of authorizations.
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 Even if some data are a bit outdated, this online tool could be regularly updated and improved.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).
Does anyone have thoughts on how we could address with data integrity/standardization of existing habitat mapping??