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Auditor slams inadequate federal fish protection

The Canwest News Service reports that, “The federal auditor general has delivered a scathing report on Ottawa’s efforts to protect fish habitat, including a lack of monitoring, enforcement and accountability. The report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on behalf of the auditor general finds that Fisheries and Oceans Canada ‘cannot demonstrate” that fish habitat is being adequately protected.”

The audtor general’s report states, “The department does not measure habitat loss or gain. It has limited information on the state of fish habitat across Canada – that is, on fish stocks, the amount and quality of fish habitat, contaminants in fish, and overall water quality.”

Canwest adds, “The report also cites a lack of co-operation between the federal Fisheries Department and Environment Canada, adding the latter agency needs to develop better policies to pursue Fisheries Act violations, such as pollution damaging fish habitat.”

The Council of Canadians has highlighted that, “Lakes that would normally be protected as fish habitat by the Fisheries Act are now being redefined as ‘tailing impoundment areas’ according to a 2002 ‘schedule’ added to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations of the Act. Once added to Schedule 2, healthy freshwater lakes lose all protection and become dump sites for mining waste.”

According to CBC report from June 2008, a total of 16 Canadian lakes are already “slated to be officially but quietly ‘reclassified’ as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.”

To read more about the Council of Canadians campaign to stop lakes from being turned into toxic dump sites, please go to

To respond to our ACTION ALERT: Save Newfoundland’s Sandy Pond, go to

The Office of the Auditor General 2009 Spring Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development can be read at

The Canwest News Service article can be read at