New Fisheries Act regulations water down pollution prevention measures

On April 23rd, new regulations for the Fisheries Act came into effect--dramatically weakening pollution prevention measures by increasing ministerial discretion and reducing the role for science and evidence.

These changes allow the Ministers of Environment and Fisheries to grant blanket authorization to industry to pollute our waterways instead of making these decisions on a case-by-case basis, based on the best available scientific and Indigenous knowledge. Ministers are now able to:

On April 23rd, new regulations for the Fisheries Act came into effect--dramatically weakening pollution prevention measures by increasing ministerial discretion and reducing the role for science and evidence.

These changes allow the Ministers of Environment and Fisheries to grant blanket authorization to industry to pollute our waterways instead of making these decisions on a case-by-case basis, based on the best available scientific and Indigenous knowledge. Ministers are now able to:

  • Give blanket authorization to fish farms to dump drugs, pesticides and other pollutants into wild fish habitat;
  • Allow other industries to dump pesticides in fisheries waters; and
  • Shirk their regulatory oversight of pollutants, offloading responsibility onto provincial governments or relying on non-binding guidelines and policy.

In the week before the changes came into effect, over 1000 Canadians sent letters to Gail Shea, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, asking that the changes be amended. Despite serious concerns raised by West Coast Environmental Law, Evidence for Democracy, and many Canadians, these changes were still finalized.

These regulatory changes are especially worrisome in light of recent amendments to the Fisheries Act that reduced protection for fish and their habitats. The new regulations were not subject to a vote of the House of Commons and became official upon publication in the Canada Gazette part 2.

You can still take action. There has been almost no media coverage of these detrimental changes, and most Canadians aren’t aware of how they could be affected. Please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper to ensure that people know about these important changes.

Full text of the regulatory changes:

http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2014/2014-04-23/html/sor-dors91-eng.php

More information on the effects of the changes can be found here:

https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/fisheriesact

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/andrew-gage/fisheries-act-changes-pollution_b_5229235.html

http://environmentallawcentre.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/canadas-proposed-fisheries-act-regulations-do-the-feds-want-out-of-s-9112-of-the-constitution-act/

Katie Gibbs

Executive Director

Katie Gibbs is a scientist, organizer and advocate for science and evidence-based policies. While completing her PhD at the University of Ottawa researching threats to endangered species, she was one of the lead organizers of the ‘Death of Evidence’ rally - one of the largest science rallies in Canadian history. Katie cofounded Evidence for Democracy and now serves as its Executive Director.