Accessibility and Access Keys 
Skip to Content 
Documents leaked this week indicate that the federal government is planning to change the Federal Fisheries Act. These changes will weaken our ability to protect the Ottawa River watershed. These changes are about much more than fish!
Here are some important points.
1. The old act protected fish habitat. This also protected all the other plants and animals within these habitats, including birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Under the proposed changes, only fish are protected. Actually, only some fish are protected: those deemed of ‘economic, cultural or ecological’ value. Who determines what species are of ‘economic, cultural or ecological’ value is unclear. For example, will sport fish on the Ottawa River be considered worthy of protection? If not, development projects or polluters could destroy their spawning beds and nurseries with no consequences.
2. Under the proposed changes, the Minister has sole authority to give anyone a free pass. In other words, even if we know that some activity or project will decimate populations of fish of ‘economic, cultural or ecological’ value, the Minister can give the project the go-ahead with no consequences and no consultations.
The Federal Fisheries Act is our most powerful and important legislation for protecting Canadian waters, and these changes are being made without the input of aquatic scientists and without the usual process of public consultation. Why?
At Ottawa Riverkeeper, we are calling for public consultation on changes to this act. We want to hear from scientists, industry representatives and citizens on the impact these changes will have on them.
While the Federal Fisheries Act may need revision, any changes to the Act must respect the environment, the economy and the democratic process.
You can see sections of the proposed changes here.