Share your views and ideas: Amending the Marine Mammal Regulations and the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations

Current status: Closed

This consultation ran from July 6, 2020 to October 2nd 2020.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations (MMR) and the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations (PAR) under the Fisheries Act that would remove the Minister's authority to issue licences to fish for nuisance seals (including sea lions) under the MMR or to authorize the lethal removal of nuisance seals in aquaculture licences. A nuisance seal is defined as a seal that represents a danger to fishing equipment among other things, despite deterrence efforts. Under the proposed amendments, it would not be a violation for operators and harvesters to lethally remove marine mammals, including seals, where it is imminently necessary to protect human health and safety, or where the humane dispatch of a marine mammal, including seals, is imminently necessary to avoid serious injury, additional injury, or death due to entanglement in fishing gear or debris.

Who was the focus of this consultation

Why we're amending the regulations

The United States will be enforcing the Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) starting January 1, 2022. As of that date, the Import Provisions will prohibit the import into the United States of fish and fish products from fisheries, including aquaculture, that do not have regulatory programs to reduce marine mammal bycatch that are comparable in effectiveness to U.S. programs. The MMPA will affect all trading partners of the United States. Among the new U.S. requirements for nations harvesting fish and seafood products for export to the United States, is the need to prohibit the lethal removal of nuisance seals during the course of commercial fishing and aquaculture operations.

In place of issuing Nuisance Seal Licences, DFO intends to adopt regulatory language that aligns with that of the U.S. MMPA. The U.S. MMPA has exemptions for the lethal removal of marine mammals under specific circumstances: (i) where the taking of the marine mammal is imminently necessary in self-defence or to save the life of another person in immediate danger and (ii) where the humane dispatch of a marine mammal is imminently necessary to avoid serious injury, additional injury, or death due to entanglement in fishing gear or debris.

As such, DFO is proposing to amend the MMR and PAR. The proposed amendments would:

Proposed amendments to the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations would:

  1. Clarify that the authority to catch nuisance fish at an aquaculture operation in British Columbia does not include the lethal removal of nuisance seals.

Proposed amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations would:

  1. Remove the authority of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to issue a Nuisance Seal Licence.
  2. Include an exemption to the prohibition on disturbing, including lethal removal, of marine mammals:
    1. where there is an imminent threat to human health and safety
    2. where the humane dispatch of a marine mammal, including seals, is imminently necessary to avoid serious injury, additional injury, or death due to entanglement in fishing gear or debris.

A nuisance seal licence is different than a commercial harvest seal licence and the proposed amendments will have no impacts on the directed seal hunt or other sealing activities authorized under the MMR.

What we heard

Final report

Contact us

Wild Capture Related: MMR and PAR Regulatory Amendment Comments
c/o Brett Norton 13S014
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent Street
Ottawa ON  K1A 0E6

Aquaculture Related: MMR and PAR Regulatory Amendment Comments
c/o Carla Wittig 10E209
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent Street
Ottawa ON  K1A 0E6

General Email: DFO.MMR.PARAmendments-modificationsRMM.RPA.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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