I read with concern today an article in the Vancouver Province that said federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield recently said that the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act in the recent budget Bill C-38 were necessary to “offer new tools to ‘authorize’ water pollution, while allowing the government to out-source services to protect the country’s waterways.” The newspaper said in a newly released letter, “Ashfield suggested the existing Fisheries Act needed to be changed since it doesn’t provide enough options allowing industry to disrupt or contaminate fish habitat.”
“There are currently few tools to authorize pollution other than by detailed regulations,” Ashfield wrote in the June 14 letter to Todd Panas, president of the Union of Environment Workers. “For example, the amended Fisheries Act will provide flexibility and establish new tools to authorize deposits of deleterious substances.”
I found Minister Ashfield’s comments very troubling and contrary to John Weston’s praise of the changes to the Fisheries Act on his website, “As a conservationist and someone who treasures our ‘super natural’ province of British Columbia, I feel that it is necessary to point out some ways that the passage of this bill will actually strengthen fisheries management.”?Changing the Fisheries Act to allow industry to “contaminate fish habitat” and authorizing “deposits of deleterious substances” does not “strengthen fisheries management.” In fact, in my opinion, it does just the opposite. This reinforces the calls for an explanatory public meeting by the Sea Sky Fisheries Roundtable with Minister Ashfield and knowledgeable staff that can answer detailed questions regarding the proposed changes. As of the writing of this letter, the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable has not heard back on a date for a public meeting.