Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), Tsilhqot’in Nation, British Columbia.
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has signed on to a joint letter with twenty-five other organizations that calls on the Trudeau government to make good on its promise to restore and enhance the Fisheries Act.
The letter to the Minister of Fisheries Dominic LeBlanc states, “It is our understanding that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) will release their report and recommendations by February 28, 2017. As conservation and environmental organizations, we would like to meet with you and senior staff following the release of the report to discuss the Committee’s recommendations and next steps in the legislative amendment process.”
Among numerous recommendations, the letter calls on the government to:
“[Reinstate] strong, comprehensive fish habitat protection that applies to all fish across the country into the Fisheries Act. Specifically, we would like to see the Act state: ‘No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.'”
“Restore protection of all native fish, not just those that form part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery.”
“Designate key areas of essential fish habitat that cannot be destroyed or compensated.”
“Strengthen local habitat stewardship through shared decision making with First Nations, stakeholders, and affected communities.”
The letter highlights, “The Fisheries Act should be viewed as an important piece of legislation towards achieving reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. A nation-to-nation process should b established to ensure that national and international commitments to uphold Indigenous rights are enshrined in a modernized Act.”
And the letter concludes, “As mentioned, we would like to meet with you end of March or early April to discuss the FOPO Committee report and expand on some of the above and additional recommendations to truly modernize the Fisheries Act.”
The letter was signed by numerous other organizations including the Canadian Environmental Law Association, ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, and the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust.