Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to provide a little clarity on the question that was asked.
Our government is committed to taking real action to ensure the protection of the environment and sustainability of our resources. We take our responsibility for pollution prevention very seriously.
The scope of the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act has not changed. It prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances unless authorized under regulations. These provisions represent a strong and effective legislative regime for environmental protection in Canada.
In 1978 Environment Canada was assigned the responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the pollution protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. A designation order made March 12, 2014, by the Governor in Council has formalized this arrangement and provides clarity for Canadians regarding responsibility for section 36 of the Fisheries Act by designating the Minister of the Environment as responsible. This order also identifies the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the minister responsible for those same provisions, but specifically for the purposes of aquaculture, aquatic invasive species, and aquatic pests.
Our government has modernized and clarified the way these regulations are administered. For example, in some circumstances, such as dealing with an aquatic invasive species that could have a significant impact on Canadian fisheries, there is a new ability for ministerial regulations to authorize deposits for the control of these destructive species, such as Asian carp or zebra mussels.
In putting forth these new ministerial regulations, our government has ensured the appropriate safeguards are in place. Conditions set out in GIC regulations ensure that ministerial regulations can only authorize deposits if they are for aquatic research purposes or they deal with aquaculture, aquatic invasive species, or aquatic pests and are for the purpose of proper management and control of the fisheries or the conservation and protection of fish, or they pose a low risk.
For this last condition to be met, there must already be a federal or provincial instrument that requires that the deposit meet science-based water quality guidelines.
Canadians are engaged in this process, as all ministerial regulations authorizing deposits must provide an opportunity for public comment through publication in the Canada Gazette, part I.
Let me be clear. These ministerial regulations provide a new tool to effectively manage deposits, but they do not provide a blanket authorization. They do not offload responsibility for pollution control to the provinces. These regulations simply recognize that when deposits are for research purposes or are necessary for the conservation and protection of fish, or where an effective provincial or federal regulatory scheme already exists, these deposits can be authorized by ministerial regulations under the Fisheries Act.
This is a common sense change and provides stakeholders with certainty that they are in compliance with the act without the need to create an additional or duplicative regime to manage the same activity.
In fact, the Minister of the Environment has already made use of this new tool by developing the Experimental Lakes Area Research Activities Regulations, which allow for the continued use of substances in experiments in the Experimental Lakes Area. This regulation is an important component of the government's commitment to ensuring a new operator is well equipped to take over the Experimental Lakes Area and to facilitate those ongoing experiments.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that the federal government remains responsible for pollution prevention and takes this role very seriously. The new tools our government has created allow us to maintain this current high level of environmental protection in a more efficient and clear manner. They also facilitate greater regulatory certainty for Canadians by allowing the government to use ministerial regulations when they are already well managed by other instruments or jurisdictions.