Natalie Sopinka: Fish Habitat Loss in Canada

Canadian Science:

Favaro and Olszynski quantified a net loss of over 2 million m2 of fish habitat. This loss of habitat was calculated assuming perfect compliance of habitat compensation requirements. The net loss of habitat jumped to almost 4 million m2 when only 80% of required habitat compensation occurred.

An overall loss of fish habitat suggests effectiveness of policies should have been enhanced not reduced; the former Act did not go beyond conservation goals (e.g., no net loss of habitat) as the goals were not even being met. If the HADD regime as previously set out in the Fisheries Act was not adequately protecting habitat why change what the law says? Why change the rigor of how projects causing harm are reviewed? Favaro and Olszynski contended the language of the former Act (i.e., inclusion of HADD) should be reinstated and that future amendments be informed by data accessible to all stakeholders. The authors obtained data for the study through the Access to Information Act and recommended a public registry of DFO authorizations be created. Favaro and Olszynski published their findings earlier this year in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (CJFAS) and submitted them to FOPO.