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Author Topic: Harper plans for elimination of habitat protection: amendment to fisheries act  (Read 5354 times)

skaha

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--I have been frustrated by the implementation of the fisheries act. While trying to clean out silt from spawning beds. This work is done just prior to the opening of fish ladders to allow fish to spawn. The in stream work window is very short... as the work has to be done a few days prior to opening of the fish ladders. It involved use of hand rakes which of course disturbs the fine silt which then gets flushed a short distance...ie less than 1 km to the lake.  This work has been done for several years. A different Biologist sponsor of the project decided that it could not go ahead as the creek bed was being disturbed during spawn period. Our point was as always the disturbance was required in order to allow fish to spawn. Another professional suggested the work be done at freshet.. again we pointed out it was the deposits made a freshet that we were removing. With persistence we were able to get hold of the original Biologist proponent of the project who explained the disturbance was required to enhance the success of spawning. Further it was found that reluctance to approve was based on the fact that people in the area would phone the local office and ask why the creek was dirty for a few hours. No one that could remember over the years that anyone who was told the reasons was against the project.
--Every 3 to 5 years spawn gravel has to be added by a machine.. again as this in stream work which is done just prior to spawn... timing is critical... and as it is at a time when in stream work would generally be closed, the work requires an exemption.. involving a site visit.

--From all this you may think I am complaining about the fisheries act... I am not.. I believe when an exemption is required that is it with good reason and reasonable to have the required on site visit. The work has not in the past be turned down after a site visit..The issue is getting someone of authority to visit the site with short notice to allow the project to proceed under the correct conditions and intent of the project.


--My example though is I am sure similar to the speaking notes given to MP's to explane why the act needs changing.  What we need is knowledgeable  people on the ground.
--It is a reasonable approach that a project would default to the most strict regulation if no site visit is done. This is the approach in forestry.. when a company is building an road and comes across a creek... it is assumed to have fish in it, thus fish passage and stream work windows apply unless the creek is assessed and deemed to have no fish. It is the companies option.. if time is important they may take measures to build a crossing as if fish were present or they may do the assessment which may result into a less expensive project.

--I think it is a good idea to assign a specific group of staff to deal with major projects, however , like in forestry the default for work that is not inspected should default  to the highest standard.. non inspection in a timely mannor should not be considered an automatic approval.   
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chris gadsden

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A press release from MP Mark Strahl. The Chilliwack Progress is doing a story on this and I was asked for comments too, will post if it runs.

Strahl promises action on fish habitat regulations
 
Chilliwack—Mark Strahl, MP for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, hosted a successful roundtable discussion regarding fisheries habitat and Species at Risk Act (SARA) regulations on Wednesday.  He was joined by his colleagues, MP Randy Kamp (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries) and MP Michelle Rempel (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment) and the Mayors of Chilliwack, Hope, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs, as well as other local officials.
 
“As I’ve met with local mayors, councillors and officials, one of the common themes that continually comes up is frustration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and concerns about SARA legislation,” said Strahl.  “Our government has signalled a desire to bring a common sense approach to DFO and SARA regulations, and I wanted my colleagues to hear firsthand how the current heavy handed approach of the bureaucracy is affecting my constituents.”
 
An example of the problems with the current regulatory system included a municipality receiving approval to clean out half of a drainage ditch but refusal for the other half.  The municipality had to fight the bureaucracy to convince them that they needed to clean the whole ditch in order to have any benefit to the project.
 
In another example, concern was raised that because of new creek side setback regulations imposed under SARA, an existing home backing onto a creek could not be rebuilt if it burned down, even if it was to be rebuilt on the existing foundation.
 
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Hon. Keith Ashfield, has recently stated that DFO’s fish habitat policy is under review.  Strahl will present him with the results of the roundtable discussion, and will also share them with Environment Minister, Peter Kent, who is responsible for the Species at Risk Act.
 
Strahl said the Government was not abandoning environmental fisheries protection, but would bring balance to the current system.
 
“I’ve spoken with the respective Ministers about ditch maintenance, fish habitat and the Salish Sucker and Nooksack Dace SARA process,” said Strahl. “I’m pleased that Parliamentary Secretaries Kamp and Rempel were here to receive the message from my constituents as well and I look forward to working will all of them to bring a balanced, common sense approach to environmental protection and fish habitat policies.”
 
 
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skaha

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“As I’ve met with local mayors, councillors and officials, one of the common themes that continually comes up is frustration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and concerns about SARA legislation,” said Strahl.  “Our government has signalled a desire to bring a common sense approach to DFO and SARA regulations, and I wanted my colleagues to hear firsthand how the current heavy handed approach of the bureaucracy is affecting my constituents.”

--Government is in charge of the bureaucracy, if they, ( government) doesn't want a heavy handed approach just tell them. If your senior management does not have the ability to successfully  coach staff to get the desired results get rid of the useless senior managers.
-- You don't need to change the legislation.
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chris gadsden

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Sent this to our MP Mark Strahl, others may wish to do the same to their MP.

Hi Mark,

I hope you will listen to this CBC braodcast and read this below and
advise your government that many as you know are very unhappy to the
proposed changes to the Fishery act, very depressing.

I would ask for an early response after you listen to this. I am in your
riding here in Chilliwack.

Regards,

Chris


May 1st The Current: changes to the Fisheries Act & the Environmental
Assessment Act... including Tom Siddon's (former Conservative Fisheries
Minister) scathing comments, also spin-Fisheries Minister Ashfield.
"Changes to the Fisheries Act. The budget bill before parliament has a
great many tentacles affecting everything from oil and gas exploration
to environmental assessment to fish. One outspoken critic, a former
Progressive Conservative fisheries minister calls it a return to the
Dark Ages.


http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/popupaudio.html?clipIds=2229395261

chris gadsden

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Save Canada's Environmental Laws: go to http://www.envirolawsmatter.ca/

 

Canadians want strong environmental laws to protect our communities, ecosystems, health, and economy.

Tens of thousands of Canadians are urging the federal government to protect the safety and security of our families and of nature through strong environmental laws.

http://www.envirolawsmatter.ca/

Groups nationwide have endorsed a common set of principles that outline how Canada’s environmental laws can support a clean, healthy and sustainable future.

Find out more about Environmental Assessment for a healthy, secure and sustainable Canada.

See our issues & resources page for more information and our action centre to have your voice heard.

Please see our endorsers page for a list of organizations who support our principles for strong environmental laws.

Contact us if your organization would like to add your support to this effort.

chris gadsden

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Save Canada's Environmental Laws: go to http://www.envirolawsmatter.ca/

 

Canadians want strong environmental laws to protect our communities, ecosystems, health, and economy.

Tens of thousands of Canadians are urging the federal government to protect the safety and security of our families and of nature through strong environmental laws.

http://www.envirolawsmatter.ca/

Groups nationwide have endorsed a common set of principles that outline how Canada’s environmental laws can support a clean, healthy and sustainable future.

Find out more about Environmental Assessment for a healthy, secure and sustainable Canada.

See our issues & resources page for more information and our action centre to have your voice heard.

Please see our endorsers page for a list of organizations who support our principles for strong environmental laws.

Contact us if your organization would like to add your support to this effort.
I got a response today from Mark on this but in the meantime I had some input on this Chilliwack Progress article from yesterday.


Former MP charges Tory gov’t ‘gutting’ fisheries act
 Share this story
 
■Strong returns fuel sockeye fishery opening
■Vets' issue, Tory nomination opens election campaign here
■Former Chilliwack MP Strahl named Trudeau mentor
■Chilliwack's input sought for Tory budget
■Seal warning rankles Sto:lo fishery advisor
■Mark Strahl to seek Tory nomination
By Robert Freeman - Chilliwack Progress
Published: May 15, 2012 10:00 AM
Updated: May 15, 2012 10:04 AM

Former fisheries minister Tom Siddon is openly criticizing the Tory government’s “gutting” of the federal Fisheries Act by removing fish habitat protection measures.



And Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire when he held a one-sided “roundtable” last month that brought local mayors with a beef about fisheries regulations together with the parliamentary secretary to the fisheries minister.



Chris Gadsden, a fisheries activist in Chilliwack, said he “applauded” Strahl for holding the roundtable meeting, but “he should also be sitting around this same table with environmental groups as well as First Nations to hear their concerns.”



“With all the talk lately about the proposed changes ... by not meeting with these groups it continues to raise concerns about the lack of transparency by government these days, both provincially and federally.”



Gadsden said one of the main reasons the BC Liberals lost the Chilliwack-Hope byelection “is losing touch with the voting public.”



“If Mr. Strahl, along with his fellow MPs visit the Fraser Valley again, he should consider meeting with those that sent him to Ottawa, to represent all of us.”



But Strahl defended the meeting, saying the roundtable was an “opportunity” for elected officials to share their concerns about fisheries regulations with Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp, parliamentary secretary to the fisheries minister, and with Calgary Centre MP Michelle Rempel, parliamentary secretary to the environment minister.



“I didn’t pretend it was a debate on the issues or it was a townhall meeting,” Strahl told The Progress.



He also said the government is not removing protection for fisheries habitat, but looking for a “common-sense” approach to preserving the environment and protecting species at risk.



“I wanted my (MP) colleagues to hear firsthand how the current heavy-handed approach of the bureaucracy is affecting my constituents,” Strahl said.



Farmers have been pushing for changes to the act for years, saying it doesn’t recognize the difference between fish-bearing streams and drainage ditches that need to be periodically cleared. Under the proposed changes, government would no longer protect all waterways that “may” contain fish.



Strahl said the aim is to focus the government’s limited environmental protection resources “on those areas that are the highest concern.”



Marvin Rosenau, a vocal fisheries critic, said he wasn’t surprised by Strahl’s one-sided roundtable meeting.



“Mark Strahl is leading the charge of eco-fascists intent on making the last dime off the backs of the last remnants of an absolutely spectacular eco-system,” he charged.



Rosenau, a former provincial biologist and now a fisheries instructor at BCIT, said an “extremely good” inventory has been collected on the ditches that farmers claim hold no fishery value.



“We know what goes on in those so-called non fish habitat ditches,” he said. “Essentially, what these farmers are doing is industrializing the landscape.”



He said some of the “engineered” ditches “are simply coho streams re-arranged for irrigation.”



“A massive and productive floodplain of fish and aquatic values ... has been drained, ditched, tiled and laser-levelled for agricultural profit,” he said.



“All we’ve got left is a tiny fraction of the vast schools of coho that once thrived in the floodplains of the Fraser River,” he said.



Siddon told reporters earlier this month that he is “appalled” by the Conservative government’s attempt to “gut the fisheries act under the radar” in Omnibus Bill C-38 that includes proposed changes to the National Pipeline Act, the Environmental Assessment Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Exploration Act.



A former Conservative MP, Siddon charged the Tory government is clearing the way for major economic projects by speeding up approval processes contained in the legislation.



rfreeman@theprogress.com