WCS Canada

Aquatic Conservation and Management

26 June 2017
WCS Canada Comments - Strategic Policy for Bait Management in Ontario

We strongly agree with the need to revise Ontario's live baitfish use policy and regulations and have been part of the Advisory Group and commenting on various proposals from the MNRF since 2013. This current draft offers the most comprehensive approach to addressing bait use and harvest in Ontario to date. The current draft does a good job of bringing together the disparate, but relevant components of bait use and harvest by anglers and commercial operators, primarily from an economic perspective. However, it fails to address the important ecological roles and values that baitfish play in freshwater systems. We do not support the reduced list for baitfish proposed by the MNRF, but are supportive of a number of other proposals in the draft including the creation of Bait Management Zones, movement restrictions for bait in and out of the Far North, and the prohibition of bait harvest, use, and storage in classes of provincial parks that have ecological integrity as their primary goal.
18 May 2017
Joint Briefing - Modernizing the Fisheries Act - May 2017

Following the June 2016 release of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans Report and Recommendations, Minister LeBlanc requested a meeting with a group of ENGOs, including WCS Canada, for input in advance of the drafting of a Government Response. WCS Canada co-led the creation of a briefing document for the Minister and Staff, outlining key points of ENGO consensus for Fisheries Act amendments and modernization. The brief suggested four necessary outcomes of a revitalized fisheries act, including 1. Measurable improvements in fish habitat, 2. Fish stocks that are recovering and sustained long-term, 3. Resources and capacity for effective implementation, and 4. Transparent decision-making and information sharing. The brief then detailed five recommendations for Act modernizations and related initiatives to support these outcomes, including 1. Make sustainability the foundation, 2. Restore and strengthen habitat protections, 3. Improve governance and decision making, 4. Increase resources and capacity for administration, implementation, and enforcement, and 5. Include a legal requirement to rebuild fish stocks.
02 February 2017
WCS Canada Comments - Fisheries Act Restoration Next Steps - February 2017

In June, 2016 the Government of Canada appointed a standing committee to lead a comprehensive review of the Fisheries Act. In advance of the release of the report, we joined other Environmental NGOs to provide a set of shared recommendations for next steps for restoring lost protections and introducing modern safeguards into the Act. Recommendations for restoring lost protections included reinstating comprehensive fish habitat protection for all native fish across the county, prohibiting activities other than fishing that cause the death of fish or sub-lethal effects that compromise fish populations, and improved monitoring and enforcement. Recommendations for introducing modern safeguards included designating essential habitat that cannot be destroyed or compensated, establishing a legal obligation to prevent overfishing and rebuild depleted stocks, developing mechanisms to address the cumulative effects of minor projects that don’t require authorization but can alter habitat or contribute to population decline, and creating a public registry of fish habitat authorizations.
30 November 2016
WCS Canada Comments - Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans Brief - November 2016

Fish and fisheries are an integral part of Canada’s history, culture, and economy. However, our country is failing to sustainably manage our once-abundant fisheries resources and to protect our globally significant freshwater and marine habitats. The Fisheries Act is Canada’s oldest environmental law, and is long overdue for comprehensive review. We urge an evidence-based approach in developing a strong and modernized Fisheries Act, in close coordination with the ongoing federal review Environmental Assessment (EA) processes, in order to deliver on the sustainable management of fisheries, and on the protection of marine and freshwater fish habitats. We recommend restoring protection for all native fishes, and restoring prohibitions against destroying habitat destruction. Further, we recommend modernizing the Fisheries Act to include: 1) Precautionary principles; 2) Ecosystem approaches; 3) A commitment to evidence-based decision making; 4) Consideration of cumulative effects; 5) Consideration of climate change; 6) Stronger provisions for co-management and co-governance; and 7) A commitment to monitoring and enforcement.
30 November 2016
WCS Canada Comments - Review of the Fisheries Act - November 2016

We offer a brief overview of fish and fisheries in the northern boreal and provide specific recommendations on restoring lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards in fisheries management and protection.
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