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Simon Shields, Lawyer

Advising Self-Representing
Ontario Litigants
Since 2005

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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Coastal Fisheries Protection Act (federal)('CFPA')

(current to 01 May 2016)
Note Re Application of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act

Geographically, the CFPA applies in the Fishing Zones of Canada, as declared under Canada's Oceans Act (aka 'Exclusive Fishing Zones'), which includes all inland waters as well.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • HABITAT
  • PROTECTION
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Canada statute website.

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The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act (CFPA) is Canada's implementation (passage into Canadian law) of the 1995 United Nations Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Species. Of course, the Act is far more a conservation statute designed to protect international commercial fisheries from overfishing than it is meant to protect fish for their own sake, but for the sake of complete coverage of Canadian animal-related law I have included it here. That said, the CFPA definition of "fish" is quite broad - "including shellfish, crustaceans and marine animals" [CFPA s.2(1)] - so the Act has broader application than is apparent at first glance.

The CFPA attempts to both prohibit and regulate, via licensing regimes, fishing by foreign fishing vessels in Canada's 'Fishing Zones' (as declared under the Oceans Act, see link above) [Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations (CRC, c.413), s.5(1)], and gives 'protection officers' various enforcement powers - including the right to impound illegally-fishing vessels and their catch [CFPA s.9]. Several regulatory offence provisions are also created by the Act [CFPA s.18].

The CFPA imposes a duty on licensed foreign fishing vessels to release unlicensed (as to species, size or age) catch forthwith "in a manner that causes the least possible harm to that fish" [CRC c.413, s.20]. Similarly, this Regulation imposes a requirement on all license-holders not to "catch and retain any fish of a species, size or age set out in the licence as prohibited catches, and where such fish are caught they shall be returned to the water, alive if possible" [CRC c.413, s.11(1)].

The CFPA in particular attempts to address over-fishing of 'straddling stocks' ("stocks of fish ... which migrate between, or occur in both, the economic exclusion zone (EEZ) of one or more states and the high seas") [CRC c.413, s.21, Tables I and II] and "highly migratory fish" [CRC c.413, s.42, Table] such as tuna and marlin.


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