|Priority 4 – Protecting Aquatic Ecosystems and Aboriginal Water Rights
- Keep Our Rivers Flowing and Our Fish Alive
- Block the Invasion of Alien Species
- Recognize the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples
Healthy aquatic ecosystems provide the foundation for both a vibrant economy and social prosperity–protecting this foundation is critical to sustainable water management. Unfortunately, aquatic ecosystems throughout Canada are under threat from climate change, excessive water withdrawals, diversions and dams, pollution and non-native species. These threats also carry grave implications for the cultural and economic survival of Aboriginal peoples who are especially reliant on healthy freshwater ecosystems. Aboriginal communities have unique relationships with land and water, and governments are required to respect these relationships by honouring Aboriginal rights.
Action 14: Improve Enforcement of Laws Protecting Aquatic Ecosystems.
- Assume a much stronger role in protecting ecosystem needs for water and in enforcing its powers under the Constitution and the Fisheries Act. Apply section 35 of the Fisheries Act to historic water uses and make secondary wastewater treatment a minimum requirement for all outflows that could impact fish habitat.
Action 15: Implement the National Action Plan on Aquatic Invasive Species.
- Reflect recommendations of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and the IJC in implementing the action plan.
- Include mandatory ballast water management practices for ships with no ballast on board (NOBOB’s), mandatory standards for ballast water treatment and a reference to the IJC to coordinate binational efforts in the Great Lakes.
- Prohibit all interbasin diversions and subject all intra-basin transfers to a comprehensive environmental assessment.
Action 16: Recognize and Respect Aboriginal Water Rights.
- Work with provincial and territorial governments to ensure Aboriginal interests in water are recognized and respected.
- Ensure provincial governments honour reserve allotments of water, where they exist.
- Ensure that all governments obey their duties to consult and accommodate and to minimize impacts on aboriginal and treaty rights.
- Rather than waiting for a protracted and expensive legal decision to transform the water policy landscape overnight, the federal government should take a proactive stance to work with Aboriginal governments and communities, as well as the provinces and territories, to fully and fairly implement a cooperative approach to recognizing aboriginal water rights.
Go to Priority Four resources.