A Fisheries Act for the future

Fulfilling our mandate to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards

Introducing the proposed amended Fisheries Act

Canadians have called for strong legislation that will protect our fish and fish habitat for future generations. Following extensive consultation, we heard from thousands of Canadians, including over 200 Indigenous groups, who said that they want strong, fair and clear legislation that sustains our environment and protects our oceans and waterways.

On February 6, 2018, we introduced proposed amendments to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act.

A healthy and thriving fishing sector is of vital importance to our economy. While protection of fish and fish habitat was a key focus for this legislation, we also looked at changes to support the sustainability of Canada’s marine resources for generations to come.

Why we're making changes

Changes that were made to the Fisheries Act in 2012 challenged our ability to protect fish and fish habitat.

Canadians, including Indigenous peoples as well as industry and environmental groups, expressed concerns with these changes and how they were made.

As part of the Government of Canada’s Review of Environmental and Regulatory Processes, we committed to reviewing the 2012 changes to the Act. We looked at how to:

restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards
provide better certainty for industry
ensure the long-term sustainability of marine resources
make sure that the Fisheries Act provides strong and meaningful protection for our fish and waters

What changes are proposed

If passed into law, our proposed changes would improve the protection of our fisheries and their ecosystems. Proposed amendments would:

- restore lost protections by returning to comprehensive protection against harming all fish and fish habitat
- strengthen the role of Indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development
- recognize that decisions can be guided by principles of sustainability, precaution and ecosystem management
- promote restoration of degraded habitat and rebuilding of depleted fish stocks
- allow for the better management of large and small projects impacting fish and fish habitat through a new permitting f    framework and codes of practice
- create full transparency for projects with a public registry
- create new fisheries management tools to enhance the protection of fish and ecosystems
- strengthen the long-term protection of marine refuges for biodiversity
- help ensure that the economic benefits of fishing remain with the licence holders and their community by providing clear ability to enshrine current inshore fisheries policies into regulations
- clarify and modernize enforcement powers to address emerging fisheries issues and to align with current provisions in other legislation

How proposed changes compare to the current Fisheries Act, as amended in 2012
Restoring lost protections

Before 2012, the Fisheries Act protected all fish and fish habitat in Canada. In 2012, changes were made so that only fish and habitat related to a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery were protected.

A revised Fisheries Act would see the lost protections restored, resulting in full protection for all fish and fish habitat.

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