CFA Welcomes Positive Changes in the Fisheries Act for Farmers

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) welcomes the federal government’s announcement made yesterday to introduce new fisheries protection measures under the Fisheries Act.

The proposed changes will include recognition that man-made water control infrastructures such as drainage ditches should not necessarily be regulated the same way as natural water ways and water bodies under the Fisheries Act.

“Canadian farmers have constantly faced regulatory uncertainty regarding the management of drainage ditches and irrigation canals on their land, so the proposed changes are a positive development for the agricultural community,” said Ron Bonnett, CFA President. “Farmers rely on the proper maintenance of drainage ditches to ensure their farms remain productive and viable but the Fisheries Act did not recognize this.”

By removing this contentious issue, the government has opened up a tremendous opportunity to fully re-engage the agricultural community in conservation and the protection and enhancement of fish habitat.

“Farmers want to be engaged in stewardship and conservation activities and the government’s proposed changes could result in a very positive partnership that will bring effective conservation of fish habitat,” Bonnett remarked. “This new approach brings greater potential for positive outcomes for our fisheries than regulatory prohibitions on thousands of farmers and their drainage ditches.”

The CFA strongly believes that conservation on agricultural landscapes is best achieved through enhancing stewardship and partnership opportunities with the conservation community, government and the Canadian public, and the CFA looks forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure changes to the Fisheries Act bring truly effective protection to Canada’s Fisheries.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country’s largest farmers’ organization, representing provincial general farm organizations as well as national and interprovincial commodity organizations from every province – over 200,000 Canadian farmers and farm families.

Manitoba producers also welcome changes to Fisheries Act

Last week, the federal government announced that the Fisheries Act will be changed – so that farmers, ranchers and municipalities will be able to drain water from fields, roadbeds and other areas that have never been breeding areas for fish.

Under the present act, drainage ditches, man-made reservoirs, and irrigation channels are subject to the same rules and guidelines as rivers, lakes, and oceans that support fish and local fisheries.

“Farmers have been struggling with these old and outdated Fisheries regulations through several years of flooding and high waters – and this is very welcome news,” said Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) president Doug Chorney.

The federal government has said that consultations will take place with all stakeholders – including landowners, conservation groups, aboriginal groups and anglers – to develop a framework for new regulations.

“We welcome these consultations and their outcomes,” said Chorney.

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