Gutting of the Fisheries Act Shows Contempt for Coastal Communities

OTTAWA –The Conservative government push for major changes to the Fisheries Act by burying it in its Budget Implementation Act.

“This approach by the Conservative government is wrong-headed,” said New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic, Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour). “They are making sweeping and inappropriate changes to environmental protection in the budget document, essentially stifling debate on the subject; this is unacceptable.”

These radical changes in the Conservative Budget bill will narrow habitat protection to apply to those activities that would harm “fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery.”

It will also mean that approval for these projects will now be made by cabinet making the process less transparent and easier to implement big industrial projects in ecologically sensitive regions. This will undermine quality of life in coastal communities and viability of Canada’s fisheries.

“The Conservative’s are ramming through their pipeline agenda at the expense of the environment, fisheries and the ecosystem,” said Fin Donnelly, West Coast Fisheries critic (New Westminster-Coquitlam) “It is clear that this government cares only about lining the pockets of its big business friends.”

“What is the purpose of Fisheries and Oceans if not to protect fish habitat?” said Phil Toone, East Coast Fisheries critic (Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine). “These changes to the Act strip the department of its powers to protect fish habitat, making it easier for big companies to push through major resource projects.”