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

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Setting limits for cumulative effects, watershed-level management

SCORE:
4.5
Theme:Conservation and Protection of Fish & Fish Habitat
on 11/25/2016 1480095119
Managing cumulative effects requires that limits be set on allowable habitat change or fish population loss. Setting those limits is both a a technica .... Read More

Managing cumulative effects requires that limits be set on allowable habitat change or fish population loss. Setting those limits is both a a technical and a political exercise. It needs to be done in an open and public process, and involve multiple jurisdictions. The new Fisheries Act must provide for such a process.

To illustrate the issues, consider Ripley et al. (2005) http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/f05-150#.WDdOcHdk8UE, their Figure 2. Probability of bull trout occurrence in a watershed declines with ANY tree harvest or road development. There is no threshold of development in watersheds below which bull trout are completely safe in the presence of logging or roads, so there is no objective limit you can use for managing logging.

The allowable amount of logging & road development, and the allowable loss of bull trout, will depend on a scientifically-determined range of probabilities of persistence of bull trout in the face of logging, from which an acceptable, politically-determined level of  logging is selected. Also, note that this has to be determined at the watershed level, showing that there will have to be cooperative management involving different legal jurisdictions.

Some exercise like this would need to be done for each species in a watershed, or by evaluating the probability of persistence of entire fish communities. The new Fisheries Act needs to be written in a way that accommodates processes like this.

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Effectiveness Monitoring: an essential part of a fisheries protection regime

SCORE:
4.9
Theme:Monitoring Threats and Reporting-back to Canadians
on 11/21/2016 1479737345
Evaluating the effectiveness of decisions taken under the Fisheries Act to protect and conserve fish and fish habitats is an essential part of a fishe .... Read More

Evaluating the effectiveness of decisions taken under the Fisheries Act to protect and conserve fish and fish habitats is an essential part of a fisheries protection regime. Science-based monitoring to assess effectiveness of decisions requires standard fish and fish habitat indicators, with clear data collection standards. The results of monitoring activities could be used to evaluate and improve mitigation and offset measures, and other habitat restoration activities.  Enshrining effectiveness monitoring in the Fisheries Act would provide a legislative foundation to build a national monitoring framework that would enable the Department to regularly report back to Canadians on how effective the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act are at achieving its intended goals and objectives.

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3

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7

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Habitat Compensation/Offsetting/Banking (NoNetLoss) is Mostly a Myth

SCORE:
3.4
Theme:Compliance and Enforcement
on 11/16/2016 1479275367
DFO needs to require several activities of developers to ensure compensation and habitat banking is successful. - Establish baseline data prior to .... Read More

DFO needs to require several activities of developers to ensure compensation and habitat banking is successful.

- Establish baseline data prior to compensation actions to facilitate site planning and long term assessments of success using prescribed methods.

- Accurately map and inventory newly constructed projects to facilitate future monitoring and research.

- Monitor and apply adaptive management to mitigate stressors in perpetuity, because compensation and habitat banks are always near human activity which carries the risk of future unforeseen impacts.

- Many completed compensation projects have failed because the above process was not used and DFO needs to systematically find and fix broken habitat compensation projects, to repay the habitat deficit to Canada that has accumulated since the No Net Loss principle was adopted in the 1980s

Compensation, Offsetting and Habitat Banking are ecosystem assets owed to Canadians in lieu of land development. It needs to be considered a permanent cost of doing business not just a one off expense by the developer. There are many financial instruments DFO can use to ensure habitat created is not lost due to neglect.

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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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Bathymetric Database

SCORE:
4.3
Theme:Monitoring Threats and Reporting-back to Canadians
on 10/20/2016 1476972706
Similar to some comments on a fish habitat inventory, I think we need to consider compiling water volumes or a database of bathymetric data that is av .... Read More

Similar to some comments on a fish habitat inventory, I think we need to consider compiling water volumes or a database of bathymetric data that is available which could be overlain with the fish habitat information. In the NWT for example, we have an abundance of bathymetry information on a project specific basis but it is not compiled anywhere. This could have climate change monitoring implications as well as we could target certain lakes or lake sizes in different areas of the country and track water level decreases and see what lake volumes we are losing over the years and what species may be effected the most. 

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4

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8

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6

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