Fisheries Act amendments deliver for fish and habitat

Modernized act restores habitat protections and adopts ecosystem-based management approach

Toroto, Ontario, CANADA

HALIFAX, Feb. 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act announced by Minister Dominic LeBlanc today will result in a robust and modern law to protect fish and fish habitat, World Wildlife Fund Canada said. The proposed amendments restore habitat protections removed by the Conservative government in 2012 and protect ecosystems as a whole, as opposed to only protecting species with commercial and/or recreational value.

Aspects of the new legislation supported by WWF-Canada include:

  • Protection for all fish and fish habitat, not just fish related to commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fisheries.
  • Stronger protections for fish populations and habitat through ecosystem-based management coupled with the precautionary approach.
  • A requirement that Indigenous traditional knowledge inform decisions that will impact habitat.
  • A requirement to consider impact on Indigenous rights and people.
  • The ability to make regulations for the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity.
  • The ability to quickly put in place short-term measures to respond to threats to fish that may suddenly arise.
  • A new public registry with information about licenses and project decisions will address the issue of transparency.
  • Enhanced monitoring capacity and more funding for enforcement.

Although the proposed amendments contain many positive changes, some concerns remain. These include:

  • Failure to include a prohibition on continued harvesting of fish while they are in a critical recovery period.
  • Lack of explicit language regarding deadlines and timelines for stock rebuilding plans.

 Megan Leslie, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada, said:

“Canada needed a modernized Fisheries Act that restored the habitat-protection provisions lost in 2012. These amendments do that and more. Especially important is the inclusion of an ecosystem-based approach to the protection of fish habitat, which will bring Canada in line with international best practices, safeguarding freshwater and marine wildlife. Tools such as a public registry will help track the cumulative effects of fishing, development and other activities. What’s more, these amendments come with a financial commitment that will ensure these changes are implemented in a way that benefits fish, their habitat and communities. WWF-Canada will continue to be involved to ensure that the full potential of these new legislative tools is realized.”

About World Wildlife Fund Canada

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at