GLFC Advisors outline position on Fisheries Act

For Immediate Release Contact: Dr. Tom Whillans         
June 7, 2012  Phone: 705-748-1011 ext. 7789

BUFFALO, NY—Citizen advisors to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, representing Canadian and U.S. First Nation, commercial, recreational, academic, agency, and public fishery interests in the Great Lakes Basin, today passed a joint resolution requesting broad consultation prior to changes to bill C-38, which amends the Federal Fisheries Act. The statement, entitled "A Resolution to protect fish habitat and guide changes to the definition of habitat in the Fisheries Act" is intended to assist the government’s deliberations in protecting Great fisheries as the bill works its way through Parliament.

Advisors provide advice to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission; U.S. advisors are nominated by the State Governors, and appointed by the commission. Canadian advisors are nominated by the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and appointed by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The resolution reads as follows:

Whereas the Fisheries Act is an important tool for protecting, sustaining and enhancing Great Lakes commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries and provides important protection for aquatic ecosystems from activities that may be destructive; and

Whereas it is unclear in the amendments to the Act as presented in Bill C-38 what the changes will mean for the protection of fish, aquatic ecosystem habitat and those components of the food web that support fish species important to Great Lakes commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries;

Therefore be it resolved that the Committee of Advisors to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission calls on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Government of Canada to consult broadly with aboriginal peoples, stakeholders, and fisheries and aquatic science experts possessing insight into the full range of ecosystem functions necessary for the health of Great Lakes and their commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries, before making changes to the Act; and

Be it further resolved that Advisors call on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Government of Canada to ensure that for the purposes of the Act, fisheries habitat is defined to include the full range of habitats important to the maintenance of fish stocks, including those created by human activity, such as drainage and degradation of wetlands, impoundment or channelization of rivers and streams or shoreline and bed alterations of water bodies, or otherwise the product of the reconfiguration or alteration of aquatic habitats.

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The Committee of Advisors consists of both U.S. and Canadian representatives, from First Nation, commercial, recreational, academic, agency, and public fishery interests in the Great Lakes Basin. Advisors provide advice to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission; U.S. advisors are nominated by the State Governors, and appointed by the commission. Canadian advisors are nominated by the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and appointed by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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