Harper VS Trudeau who will Tackle the Fisheries Act?

by jeehopaik on November 9, 2017 - 10:06pm

         The Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans prior to the Harper era, incorporated a law within the Fisheries Act that prohibited the harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitats (HADD), which was imperative to integrating the ministry’s fundamental mantra of “no habitat, no fish”. However, during the Harper era operations of the 2012 omnibus budget bill, Harper recognized the economic and recreational value in aquatic resources and its ability to generate $6 billion dollars per year, create employment for 80,000 people, provide recreation for 10% of Canadians, and provide cultural stability for Indigenous Peoples. The Harper government then managed to prioritize these economic, recreational, and cultural values, through dismantling HADD by redefining the term fish habitats and reducing the scope of protection to only fish directly involved in fisheries. Consequently, this translated as a free pass to destroy aquatic ecosystems which then generated an outcry amongst scientists, conservationists, and even four- former federal Fishery Ministers. Nevertheless, Justin Trudeau came to power and issued a mandate to improve the effectiveness of the Fisheries Act by directing the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to restore the “no habitat, no fish” mantra by mandating aquatic management based on scientific, facts, and evidence.

         This publication represents a type of economical and recreational view against an environmentalist view relationship that draws attention to value, interest, and cognitive conflicts identified within the resource management of fisheries. The value conflict is that Harper values aquatic resources for its economic growth, employment opportunities, recreation, and cultural stability, whereas Trudeau, scientists, and conversationalists as the environmentalists see the biodiverse and intrinsic value in aquatic resources and therefore want to manage it sustainability for future generations.

The interest conflict is that Harper seeks to reap the benefits of aquatic resources now, and is content with the future generations paying the cost of his unsustainable government. However, environmentalists disagree with forcing future generations to pay the costs of unsustainable governments today, thus exemplifying an interest conflict when rationalizing on who should pay the price.

There is also a cognitive conflict as the Harper government interpreted fish habitats as only fish that were involved in fisheries, meaning that after enabling the operations of Bill C-38, the Fisheries Act exclusively protected the species that contributed to the fish industry. Redefining fish habitats deteriorated the effectiveness of HADD, and consequently destroyed ecosystems of many other aquatic species. Whereas, the Trudeau government defined fish habitats inclusive to all aquatic species whether they be contributive to economic growth, employment rates, recreation, or cultural behavior. This raises the concerns around Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) and how it should be addressed as it is clear that even state actors like the Prime Minister can have NDD, which is problematic because these can be the policy makers that dictate the environment for us and future generations.  

Trudeau used passive adaptive management to address the cognitive conflict as he directed the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to implement the regulatory instrument- HADD, within the Fisheries Act in order to solely achieve restoration in aquatic ecosystems.

In conclusion, there are value, interest, and cognitive conflicts within this article that are addressed using substantive policy instruments to directly change the behavior of fishermen regarding revisions in the Fisheries Act. It is also important to acknowledge that NDD effects how much one can be concerned with the preservation of nature, which in hand affects the way we all perceive the value in nature including policy makers that have the power to protect our environment or not.