Senator Harder proposes to protect sharks and captive whales in Government’s fisheries bill
Bill C-68 would restore protections to Canada’s freshwater and marine fisheries.
The Government has moved to ensure implementation of two Senate public bills on marine life – one to ban shark fin imports and another to phase out the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Canada.
If adopted, the proposed additions to Bill C-68 guarantee these policies will complement the legislation’s major environmental protections to Canada’s freshwater and marine fisheries.
Senator Peter Harder is proposing a total of 28 amendments to Bill C-68 at the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, including technical changes. The clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, which began Tuesday evening, continues Thursday morning.
Sen. Harder is also delivering on an earlier promise to respond to concerns raised by farmers about an overly broad definition of fish habitat. He is proposing to exclude human-made agricultural waterways, which must still follow environmental codes of practice, from being designated as fish habitat.
He is also responding to industry concerns by proposing to clarify that the permitting system for large-scale projects may include exceptions to the act for activities and works that do not lead to the death of fish.
“With these proposed changes, the Government is balancing the needs of farmers with the need to protect fish,” said Sen. Harder, who grew up in Vineland, an agricultural community in the Niagara peninsula.
“The Government is also recognizing the policy achievements of the Senate in advancing legislation to protect marine animals. This is a great day for sharks, whales and dolphins.”
He thanked Senator Dan Christmas for his leadership as sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, as well as the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, for his collaboration in finding creative ways to improve the bill.
Support for two Senate public bills
In 2017, Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald of Nova Scotia introduced Bill S-238 to ban the import of shark fins. However, the bill likely does not have enough time to become law before Parliament rises, highlighting the need to fold its policies into Bill C-68.
The proposed amendments to Bill C-68 would implement Bill S-238’s protections for sharks, whose population are in decline due to overfishing.
“These amendments call to mind Canadian filmmaker and shark conservationist Rob Stewart, who died tragically in 2017. By banning shark finning, we honour his life’s work to save sharks from extinction,” Sen. Harder said.
In 2015, Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia introduced Bill S-203, to phase out the captivity of whales and dolphins. Independent Senator Murray Sinclair took over after Sen. Moore retired. The bill is poised for a final vote in the House of Commons.
Sen. Harder’s amendments are designed to make technical modifications in the Senate rather than the House of Commons, to secure final passage of the bill. If Bill S-203 were amended in the House of Commons, it would return to the Senate to an uncertain fate in the closing days of Parliament.
“Too many Canadians have fought too hard to place Bill S-203 in jeopardy. With these additions, we act with resolve to help captive whales and dolphins,” he said.