Policy Sectors

Policies, Frameworks, and Instruments Currently Being Developed

Ecologically Significant Areas

The DFO is developing a “National Framework for Identifying, Establishing, and Managing Ecologically Significant Areas (ESA Framework). Currently, there are no ESAs in Canada. The proposed ESA framework will provide clarification on the identification, establishment and management of ESAs. Implementation of ESAs will vary from region to region. Currently, the DFO is seeking input on ESA identification criteria.

What is an ESA?

The main purpose of an ESA is to provide a regulatory process that aims to give long-term protection to areas of sensitive, highly productive, rare or unique fish and fish habitat. ESAs can regulate any human activity, except for fishing, that could impact fish conversation and fish habitat. ESAs can also:

• integrate environmental, economic, and social objectives.

• respect Aboriginal and Treaty rights

• provide opportunities for collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, provinces and territories, community groups, and others to support ESA conservation and protection objectives; and

• further DFO’s knowledge in these areas through monitoring and reporting.

Click here to participate in a survey to give your feedback on the first phase of the framework: ESA Identification.

  • Feedback on ESA Establishment Criteria – Date TBD
  • Feedback on ESA Management Criteria – Date TBD

Prescribed Works and Waters Regulation

The DFO is developing a streamlined approval process for projects that meet specific criteria for the following three classes of works: shoreline stabilization, noise-inducing activities, and aquatic rehabilitation projects.

The purpose of this streamlined process is to provide better protection for fish and fish habitat while also increasing the management of routine works and works conducted on minor waters. Projects included in this process are ones that the DFO states are already routine in nature, have predictable outcomes, and are unlikely to cause the death of fish or include science-informed methods to mitigate the death of fish.

Each of the three classes of works that fall under this proposed regulation have three components:

  1. Project: the project defines the type of works and activities that are included in each class.
  2. Conditions: each project will have specific conditions that must be met for the project to comply with the regulation.
  3. Waterbodies: each project will have the ability to include or exclude specific waters.

Shoreline Stabilization

Proposed Project Requirements for Shoreline Stabilization

Placement of fill below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) for the purpose of remediating ongoing shoreline erosion where fill material:

  • is limited to vegetative planting, bioengineering, or rip rap;
  • does not encroach more than 2 metre below the OHWM;
  • does not extend more than 100 metres along the shoreline;
  • and - results in a shoreline slope no steeper than 1:2 (rise:run) or 50% grade.

Proposed Condition Requirements for Shoreline Stabilization

a) Pre-project notification:

  • Contact information
  • Proposed plan
  • Photographs of the proposed work area

b) Post-project notification

  • Summary of project implementation
  • Photographs of the completed work area

c) Measures to reduce impacts on fish:

  • Works comply with established in-water timing windows for resident fish species
  • Appropriate fish screening and fish salvage techniques are applied in cases where dewatering is required

d) Measures to reduce impacts on fish habitat:

  • Sediment and erosion control measures are applied
  • Disturbed fish habitats are restored (e.g. shorelines replanted, bed and banks resloped, waste materials and temporary structures removed)
  • Exposed soils are stabilized

Proposed Waterbody Criteria for Shoreline Stabilization

All fish-bearing waters in Canada except for:

  • streams less than 5 metres in width
  • critical habitat or residences of endangered or threatened aquatic species at risk
  • critical habitat as identified in a stock-recovery plan federally recognized ecologically significant areas.

Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

This class of works is meant to support small-scale aquatic habitat rehabilitation work, often conducted by conservation organizations.

Proposed Project Requirements for Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

The placement or removal of materials below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) 6 of Canadian fish bearing waters for the purpose of implementing specific named works designed to rehabilitate aquatic habitats.

Those named works include:

  • half logs
  • rock groupings
  • root wads
  • digger logs
  • rock sills
  • low head barriers and weirs.

The works must:

  • only use hand-tools or light machinery
  • take no more than 3-days to complete
  • extend no further than 15 metres along, or across a waterbody.

Proposed Condition Requirements for Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

a) Pre-project notification:

  • Contact information
  • Description, rationale and plans for the proposed project
  • Project location and timing
  • Photographs of the work area

b) Post-project notification:

  • Summary of project implementation
  • Photographs of the completed project

c) Qualified Environmental Professional:

  • A qualified environmental professional 7 with expertise in aquatic habitat rehabilitation must oversee the design and implementation of the work

d) Measures to reduce impacts on fish:

  • Works comply with established in-water timing windows for resident fish species
  • Appropriate fish screening and fish salvage techniques are applied in cases where dewatering is required

e) Measures to reduce impacts on fish habitat:

  • Sediment and erosion control measures are applied
  • Disturbed fish habitats are restored (e.g. shorelines replanted, bed and banks resloped, waste materials and temporary structures removed)
  • Exposed soils are stabilized

Proposed Waterbody Criteria for Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

All fish-bearing waterbodies in Canada except for:

  • aquatic species at risk habitat
  • critical habitat as defined in a stock recovery plan
  • federally recognized ecologically significant areas

Broad Scale Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

This proposed class is designed to manage larger, or less routine, aquatic habitat rehabilitation projects.

Proposed Project Requirements for Broad Scale Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

The placement or removal of materials below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) 6 of Canadian fish bearing waters for the purpose of implementing works designed to rehabilitate aquatic habitats.

Proposed Condition Requirements for Broad Scale Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

a) Pre-project notification:

  • Contact information
  • Description, rationale and plans for the proposed project
  • Project location and timing
  • Photographs of the work area

b) Post-project notification:

  • Summary of project implementation
  • Photographs of the completed project

c) Measures to reduce impacts on fish:

  • Works comply with established in-water timing windows for resident fish species
  • Appropriate fish screening and fish salvage techniques are applied in cases where dewatering is required

d) Measures to reduce impacts on fish habitat:

  • Sediment and erosion control measures are applied
  • Disturbed fish habitats are restored (e.g. shorelines replanted, bed and banks resloped, waste materials and temporary structures removed)
  • Exposed soils are stabilized

Proposed Waterbody Criteria for Broad Scale Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation

All fish-bearing waterbodies in Canada except for:

  • aquatic species at risk habitat
  • critical habitat as defined in a stock recovery plan
  • federally recognized ecologically significant areas

Noise Inducing Activities - TBD


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