c/o 74-6700 Rumble St.
Burnaby, BC, V5E 4H7
March 10, 2016
Regional Director General, Pacific Region
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Suite 200 - 401 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4
Dear Ms Reid,
Re: Fisheries Notifications for Working Near Water
On behalf of the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board (SEHAB) and over 30,000 volunteers involved in the Salmon Enhancement Program (SEP), we are reiterating our recommendation that a mandatory notification requirement for projects working near water be added to the fisheries habitat regulations.
Prior to the November 2013 changes to the Fisheries Act, any proponent proposing to work near water who had determined their project was not going to require a Fisheries Act Authorization, was recommended to provide written notification of their proposed activities to DFO at least 10 working days prior to starting work. The project proponent provided this by submitting either the Pacific Region Operational Statement Notification Form or a Project Review Application Form with the notification option selected. The stated purpose of this notification was to provide the department with information that would allow staff to evaluate the effectiveness of the work carried out in relation to the relevant Operational Statement, and for DFO to track, at a landscape level, the cumulative impacts to habitat productivity and recreational, indigenous, and commercial fisheries.
With the request for notification being removed in the changes to the Fisheries Act supporting policies, SEHAB and the SEP volunteer community are extremely concerned that DFO now has no knowledge about the number and types of projects currently being conducted on the landscape. The lack of notification has the following potential consequences for DFO and its mandate to protect fish and fish habitat:
- Significantly reduces DFOs oversight that can result in unqualified people making decisions about whether a project requires Fisheries Act Authorization or not. Potentially, this can result in projects that should have authorization being conducted without DFO’s knowledge;
- The combination of reduced DFOs involvement, lack of notification requirement and fewer DFO conservation and protection officers on the ground (none in some areas) has created a sense that “anything goes”. Proponents are moving forward with projects that could harm fish and fish habitat, individually and cumulatively, without DFO’s knowledge of those projects;
- Cumulative impacts to productive fish habitat may be resulting in curtailed CRA fisheries or harm to existing restoration projects;
- DFO and citizens have no mechanism to track or monitor projects being conducted without authorizations, thus diminishing public and government efforts to prevent harm to fish and fish habitat, and to evaluate the effectiveness of Fisheries Act changes in protecting fish and fish habitat; and
- Public complaints are likely to result in Compliance and Protection branch expending valuable limited resources investigating work that may be employing self-regulated harm-avoidance measures.
For these reasons we urgently request that the Minister instate a mandatory notification requirement for all projects working near water in the habitat regulations of the Fisheries Act.
We look forward to hearing from you regarding this important matter for protecting fisheries and the public’s interest.
Paul Cipywnyk, SEHAB Secretary
on behalf of
Jack Minard, SEHAB Chair
Cc Honourable Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Cc Christine Loth-Bown , Director General, Deputy Minister Policy