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Fisheries bill clears Senate with whale and shark amendments


Fisheries bill clears Senate with whale and shark amendments

Bill C-68 returns to the House of Commons for consideration of Senate amendments.

Legislation to restore protections to Canada’s freshwater and marine fisheries has been adopted in the Senate with amendments to ensure the implementation of two Senate public bills on marine life – one to ban shark fin imports and another to phase out the captivity of whales and dolphins.

Senator Peter Harder, the Government Representative in the Senate, proposed a series of amendments to Bill C-68 on behalf of the Government related to the two bills, both designed to protect marine animals. He also proposed amendments responsive to agricultural concerns about human-made waterways and industry concerns about the permitting system for large-scale projects.

“I hope the amendments in Bill C-68 will stand as an example of the results that can be achieved when the government and the Senate work together to deliver the best possible public policy results for Canadians,” Sen. Harder said during his third reading speech. “I congratulate all senators for the current Bill C-68’s response to Senate concerns and its inclusion of Senate policies. I hope it can be a model going forward in a more independent, positive Senate.”

He also thanked Senator Dan Christmas for his leadership as sponsor of the legislation in the Senate and for proposing amendments to clarify that constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights are respected within fisheries management.

“Senator Christmas has led our examination of Bill C-68 through the lens of an independent senator but also from the perspective of a Mi’kmaw leader and ambassador to the federation,” Sen. Harder said. “Senator Christmas has eloquently expressed his people’s concerns for the health of our oceans, both for the sake of marine species in their own right and for the sake of his nation and the communities that rely on the sea’s natural abundance.”

Support for Senate public bills

The amended Bill C-68 has folded in a ban on the import of shark fins, which is proposed in Bill S-238. Introduced by Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald in 2017, Bill S-238 is running out of time to become law before Parliament rises, highlighting the need to implement its proposed policies in Bill C-68.

Bill C-68 also makes technical modifications to Bill S-203, which proposes to phase out the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Bill S-203 is poised for a final vote in the House of Commons, and the amendments to Bill C-68 would help secure its final passage and prevent having to send it back to the Senate at this late stage in Parliament for minor changes.

The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act was introduced by Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore in 2015, and Independent Senator Murray Sinclair took over after his retirement.

Fisheries bill clears Senate with whale and shark amendments