Canada poised to roll back fish protection laws, biologist claims
Move would make it easier for projects like Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. to clear federal hurdles
By PETER O'NEIL,
March 13, 2012
OTTAWA - The Harper government did not challenge Tuesday opposition allegations that it is poised to “gut” legislation that has been a key tool for decades in forcing industrial and natural resource projects to go through environmental reviews.
“There has been absolutely no decision made with regard to this issue,” Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield told the House of Commons when confronted with the allegations of a former federal fisheries biologist.
Ashfield’s office later released a statement reiterating that no decision has been made but that changes are needed. “Federal fisheries policies designed to protect fish are outdated and unfocused in terms of balancing environmental and economic realities.”
Former bureaucrat Otto Langer made public Monday proposed wording changes in the federal Fisheries Act that he said would make it easier for projects like Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. to clear federal hurdles.
Langer, who worked for the federal government for 32 years, said he was told the change would be included in upcoming federal omnibus legislation following the March 29 budget.
The changes would prohibit activity that would cause an “adverse effect” on “fish of economic, cultural or ecological value.”
The law currently bans activity that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.
Here is Otto Langer’s press release. The retired biologist says he received some leaked information that the Tories are planning to remove the term “habitat” from the Fisheries Act, undoing decades of habitat protection work.
Source: Paul Harps (On Facebook), Chinook Waters Fly Fishing Club