On January 16, Fisheries and Oceans issued a statement “clarifying” its role after signing an agreement with the National Energy Board on fisheries protection along pipeline routes, saying DFO “remains responsible for fisheries protection, including the issuance of Fisheries Act authorizations.”
DFO says there is little difference between its agreement with the NEB and collaborative agreements with the provinces.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has established a collaborative agreement with the National Energy Board that will help eliminate overlap and duplication during regulatory reviews while maintaining a strong regime to manage threats to fish and fish habitat.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada remains responsible for fisheries protection, including the issuance of Fisheries Act authorizations.
Our collaborative arrangement builds on the decades of training, experience and expertise of NEB biologists in assessing the potential environmental impacts of development projects, including regarding fish and fish habitat.
These arrangements will yield a number of benefits:
• Ensuring regulators focus on the greatest threats to fish and fish habitat;
• Making the best use of available resources; and
• More efficient approval processes.
The Policy and Operational Guidelines that are followed by DFO staff and anyone else involved in these matters are available on Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s website.
The National Energy Board is best placed to deliver regulatory review responsibilities under the Fisheries Act for activities relating to federally regulated energy infrastructure (such as pipelines).
The Memorandum of Understanding between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the National Energy Board will enable the NEB to:
• Review proponent applications for impacts to fish and fish habitat;
• Assess appropriate measures to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and fish habitat;
• Include measures to avoid and mitigate impacts as conditions of licences, orders or certificates issued by the NEB; and
• Assess the acceptability of proponent offsetting plans when authorization is required.
Over the years, DFO has established similar arrangements with some Provinces and with Conservation Authorities.
In all cases, the standards for fisheries protection are established by DFO and the Fisheries Act Authorizations continue to be done by DFO.