Hope I’m wrong

Federal government is letting the fish down in Canada

I see that Bill C-38, short name “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act,” was officially introduced by the Tories and read in parliament for the first time on Thursday, April 26.

Fish habitat is indeed being struck from the bill:   “…141. The definition “fish habitat” in subsection 34(1) of the Act is repealed…”  …and no, there is no new definition proposed…

They’re even changing the heading of section 34 (definitions) from fish habitat protection and pollution prevention to fisheries prevention and pollution prevention.

The current Act’s wording:  “35. (1) No person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.”

When the story broke in March, Otto Langer’s leaked document indicated the proposed change: “No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity other than fishing, that results in an adverse effect on a fish of economic, cultural or ecological value.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, the wording I’ve found in Thursday’s introduced Act is “35. (1) No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery.”

In the Langer version, “habitat” was eliminated but there might have been some hope for all fish, given the “ecological value” wording.  No more.  Now with the “fishery” or “supporting-a-fishery” only slant, if you’re a fish that’s not fished and you aren’t contributing to a fishery, good luck.

Just on the freshwater side, this could include numerous headwater, above-barrier species and stocks (cutthroat, char, sculpins, etc.) on Vancouver Island.  If, as one of these fish, you are somehow lucky enough to be classified as part of, or supporting, a fishery, you might be protected, but your habitat can now be “seriously harmed” without consequence.

I hope I’ve misread the federal website, or I’ve got it wrong.  If I’ve read it right and this is what the government intends to do, please write Harper and your MP and urge them to re-consider.

James Craig, AScT