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Fish Habitat Protection

The "revised" Interim Fish Habitat Referral Process in Ontario
Reviewing the impacts to fish habitat and enforcing Section 35 of the federal Fisheries Act

    Whether you are a land owner, cottager, developer, individual or organization wanting to do work in or around water, you should be aware of the responsibilities associated with your actions. Shoreline property owners often want to make alterations to their shoreline, especially in the near shore areas of lakes and streams, which provide important fish habitat.

Fish habitat is considered to be the "spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes" (S. 34 Fisheries Act). Only the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada may authorize the harmful alteration, destruction or disturbance of fish habitat. Valuable fish habitat is not always easily identified. We need to work together to protect this important environmental and economic resource.

In the Rideau watershed, off the waters of the Rideau Canal, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority will review your proposal to ensure that a harmful alteration (a HADD) can be avoided. This review is done as part of a formal agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). It will normally be undertaken associated with our ongoing review of a planning application or a "Fill, Construction and Alteration to Waterways" permit review under Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act. In circumstances where the works are to occur on a part of the Rideau Canal, the Rideau Canal Office of Parks Canada is the responsible review agency. If a HADD can not be avoided your project will be referred directly to DFO.

Play it safe. Have your project checked out first.