Fisheries Act Registry: pollution prevention

This registry provides information about the pollution prevention provisions under the Fisheries Act. These provisions apply to all waters in the fishing zones and territorial seas of Canada as well as all internal waters of Canada. They are administered and enforced by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for administering and enforcing these provisions in relation to aquaculture, and the control and eradication of aquatic invasive species and aquatic pests. Visit Fisheries Act Registry for additional information about the responsibilities of Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Act.

Read our pollution and waste management page to know more about Canada’s overall action to track and reduce pollution and waste.

Overview

The Fisheries Act is the main federal legislation to manage and protect Canada’s fisheries resources. Subsections 36(3) to (6) are the main pollution prevention provisions protecting fish and other aquatic life by prohibiting pollution that could be harmful to them.

Subsection 36(3) prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish, or to any place, under any conditions, where they may enter waters frequented by fish.

A deleterious substance can be any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter the water quality such that it could directly or indirectly harm fish, fish habitat, or the use of fish by humans.

A deposit of a deleterious substance can only be authorized under regulations made either under the Fisheries Act or under another Act of Parliament.

For more information, go to frequently asked questions: Fisheries Act pollution prevention provisions.

Contact us

Forest Products and Fisheries Act Division 
Environmental Protection Branch 
Environment and Climate Change Canada 
351 St. Joseph Blvd., 19th floor 
Gatineau, QC, K1A 0H3 
Email: FPFA-PFLP@ec.gc.ca

Regulations

These regulations are under the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for their administration and enforcement.

Current regulations

Proposed regulations

  • Alton Natural Gas Storage Cavern Development Activities Regulations
  • Coal Mining Effluent Regulations
  • Oil Sands Mining Effluent Regulations

Additional information

Forward Regulatory Plan: anticipated changes to current or proposed regulations

Complete list of regulations under the Fisheries Act

Policy and administration

Information on administration of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act and policy instruments used to risk manage pollution:

Annual report to Parliament

Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada jointly report to Parliament on their activities and performance each fiscal year. This report covers the administration and enforcement of the Fisheries Act relating to fish and fish habitat protection and pollution prevention.

Annual Report to Parliament on the administration and enforcement of the fish habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act

Designation order

The Order Designating the Minister of the Environment as the Minister Responsible for the Administration and Enforcement of Subsections 36(3) to (6) of the Fisheries Act, SI/2014-21, was passed by the government in 2014 and amended in 2020. It formally made the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada generally responsible for the administration and enforcement of pollution prevention under the Fisheries Act.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for pollution prevention relating to aquaculture and the control and eradication of aquatic invasive species and aquatic pests.

The 2020 amendments to the order were made to reflect the June 2019 amendments to the Fisheries Act. They do not change the division of responsibilities established in 2014 between the two ministers.

Enabling regulations

Most federal laws in Canada must be approved by the Governor in Council. Under some federal laws, Ministers are given the authority to make regulations themselves.  However, Ministers can only make regulations under certain conditions that are outlined in enabling regulations.

The Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations Under Subsection 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act are enabling regulations which allow the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minster of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard to make regulations under certain conditions. 

Currently, Environment and Climate Change Canada has one regulation made at the Minister level: Experimental Lakes Area Research Activities Regulations.

Compliance and enforcement

Environment and Climate Change Canada uses the compliance and enforcement policy for habitat and pollution provisions of Fisheries Act to implement its responsibilities under the Fisheries Act.

Reporting environmental emergencies 

Under the Fisheries Act, any release or imminent danger of a release of harmful substances into fish-bearing waters must be reported to the authorities in the province or territory where the incident occurred. These regulations facilitate the reporting process between the provincial and federal authorities.

Environmental emergency contacts

Enforcement

Environmental enforcement officers enforce federal legislation that deals with different risks to the environment and its biodiversity. Violations of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act and violations of other acts are available in the Environmental Offenders Registry.

For more information about the Enforcement Branch, please go to the Environmental and wildlife enforcement page.

Latest updates

Order Amending the Order Designating the Minister of the Environment as the Minister Responsible for the Administration and Enforcement of Subsections 36(3) to (6) of the Fisheries Act:SI/2020-48. July 8, 2020.

BILL C-68: An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence. June 21, 2019.

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