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(Feb 02, 2008) On November 29, 2007, the government introduced a bill to create a new Fisheries Act for Canada. The major purpose of this bill is to provide for the development of a sustainable fisheries industry for the country. In recent years, stocks of once abundant species, such as the cod off Newfoundland, have been so depleted that a lengthy moratorium had to be put into place. Fishing in the Great Lakes has also been in decline. One of the reasons for this is that "more than 140 exotic aquatic organisms of all types—including plants, fish, algae, and mollusks—have become established in the Great Lakes" and "more than one-third of these organisms have been introduced in the past thirty years." (Invasive Species in the Great Lakes Region, Great Lakes Information Network, (last visited Jan. 30, 2008).) The Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) notes that this increase coincided with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting all five of the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is believed that many non-indigenous species entered the Great Lakes through the release of ballast from oceangoing ships. GLIN lists rusty crayfish, spiny water fleas, common carp, ruffles, sea lampreys, zebra mussels, pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, flowering rush, and purple loosestripe as some of the most injurious additions to the Great Lakes. Many of these prey upon or compete with indigenous species or their natural food sources. Zebra mussels pose a particular problem because they clog pipelines, turbines, and other machinery.

As part of its new Fisheries Act, the government has included provisions on "aquatic invasive species." If adopted, the legislation would authorize the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to enact regulations prohibiting the export, import, transport, or release of such species. The Minister would also be authorized to take steps to destroy aquatic invasive species. Persons violating this law would be liable to a fine of up to Can$200,000 (US$201,100) for a first offense, and both a fine of up to Can$200,000 and imprisonment for up to six months for a subsequent offense. (Fisheries Act, 2007, Bill C-32, s. 72, 39th Parl. 2d Sess.)

Author: Stephen Clarke More by this author
Topic: Environmental protection More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Canada More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 02/02/2008