Certainly. Thanks for the question, Ms. Leslie.
As I mentioned, back in 1977 an important decision was made to amend the Fisheries Act to allow for habitat protection. That has enabled the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to engage in protection of potentially harmful activities such as gravel mining in the Fraser River—that kind of activity can pose grave threats to pink salmon and sturgeon populations at risk—to oil sands mining and pipeline development in Alberta. This can destroy fish-bearing creeks. It can render fish inedible, and it can create significant risks to water resources generally.
Then, obviously there are matters of large-scale hydro development habitat impacts on local fish and benthic species in relation to finfish aquaculture in B.C. These are examples of activities that, pursuant to section 35 as it currently exists, as it is broadly construed, fall within the purview of the subsection 35(1) protections of fish habitat. These are examples of where it is working.
The concern is that by narrowing the habitat protected, and by providing for ministerial regulations that allow for the exemption of certain activities in certain waterways, which won't even be subject to those proposed narrowed habitat protections, what we will end up seeing is a series of activities in water bodies that get less or no oversight. For those activities where there is oversight, it would be reduced.
Specifically, one can imagine that there would be types of activities that would no longer get that habitat protection. That can only be for the worse, from a planning perspective and from a perspective of ensuring sustainable development. It's not a question of saying no to projects; it's a matter of saying that this is how they ought to be done. These are the best practices.