President Obama’s Landmark Executive Actions to Cut Coal Plant Emissions and Protect Oceans

For details about the June regulatory initiatives in the United States, go to: Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule at the Environmental Protection Agency website at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule and for commentary, see `Taking Page from Health Care Act, Obama Climate Plan relies on States“ in the New York Times (June 2) at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/us/politics/obama-epa-rule-coal-carbon-pollution-power-plants.html. The Pembina Institute highlights the growing gap between Canadian and U.S. climate leadership at http://www.pembina.org/blog/us-action-on-climate-amplifies-leadership-vacuum-in-ottawa; The Natural Resources Defence Council discusses the possible impacts on jobs at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/plehner/new_carbon_pollution_standards.html and http://www.nrdc.org/media/2014/140529.asp . Regarding the U.S. Executive Order on June 17th to expand protection of the oceans, see the White House press release at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/17/presidential-memorandum-comprehensive-framework-combat-illegal-unreporte , and “Pew Applauds Obama Administration`s New Focus on Illegal Fishing” at http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/news/2014/06/pew-applauds-obama-administrations-new-focus-on-illegal-fishing or “ Obama to Expand Marine Reserves and Crack Down on Seafood Black Market“ at The Guardian (June 17) at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/17/obama-oceans-marine-reserves-leonardo-dicaprio

Controversial New Water Legislation Introduced in B.C.

The B.C. Government introduced Bill 18, the Water Sustainability Act, on March 11th. It updates the current legislation passed in 1909, and “will bring groundwater into the licensing system, and will expand government’s ability to protect fish and aquatic environments “. See http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/ for the legislation and all supporting documents.

In a November 2013 posting during the lengthy consultation phase, the government had outlined how the proposed changes would impact oil and gas development, including a pledge that “in completing the new Act we are looking closely at the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Environmental Management Act to ensure that surface and groundwater are protected during hydraulic fracturing operations” (see http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/2013/11/14/blog-post-6-water-and-oil-gas-development/). Yet on March 19, Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club of B.C. went before the Supreme Court of B.C., alleging that Encana has systematically avoided the current water licensing regulations by applying to the provincial Oil and Gas Commission for repeated “short term” water permits for fracking (see http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/encana-s-water-permits-for-b-c-fracking-illegal-lawsuit-alleges-1.2578788).

The aspect of pricing commercial and industrial water use has been deferred by a period of further consultations; see the consultation paper, Pricing B.C.’s Water, at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/watersustainabilityact/files/2014/03/Pricing-B.C.s-Water.pdf. Public comments will be accepted until April 8th.

Fisheries in the News: Collaboration is Moving Newfoundland’s Cod Fishery to Sustainability

The Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) on the southern Newfoundland shore announced on March 13th that it has entered full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

After the collapse of the cod fishery in the 1990’s, this is an historic milestone, and according to World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF) President David Miller: “It demonstrates that good management and collaboration can lead to the recovery of cod populations – and that struggling fisheries can once again thrive, not only in Atlantic Canada but across the world”. The recovery of the fishery is indeed the result of extensive collaboration and co-operation- led by Icewater Seafoods Inc. and Ocean Choice International, partnering with WWF (formerly World Wildlife Federation) to manage the FIP, with additional financial support from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Resources Legacy Fund, and High Liner. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are also cited as key supporters.

Read the press release at WWF at: http://www.wwf.ca/newsroom/?14901/Newfoundland-cod-fishery-announces-milestone-sustainability-assessment. Read about the FFAW Stewardship Program at: http://www.ffaw.nf.ca/?Content=Science_Research/Fisheries_Stewardship_Program, and an overview of the WWF Conservation Program in Atlantic Canada at: http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/oceans/atlantic_canada/.

Commercial Fisheries Still on Hold in the Arctic

Although there is currently no commercial fishing in the Arctic, the rapidly warming waters may allow for one to develop. In 2012, scientists from 67 countries called for a moratorium on such fishing pending more research, to avoid damage to fish stocks. In February 2014, the five Arctic coastal countries – Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway – agreed to avoid commercial fishing themselves and to work to include other countries in the agreement. In March, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for protection of the High Arctic, prohibiting fishing, and prohibiting pollution from ships and oil rigs. See “Canada agrees to work to prevent fishing in High Arctic” on the CBC website at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/canada-agrees-to-work-to-prevent-fishing-in-high-arctic-1.2554332. As part of its extensive work on ocean conservation, The Pew Charitable Trust provides many studies on the Arctic at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_detail.aspx?id=606; documents on Ocean Conservation and overfishing are at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_category.aspx?id=134.

EU Reforms Target Overfishing

In advance of World Ocean Day on June 8, and culminating a once-in-a decade reform process, the European Union announced on June 6th that it will implement major reforms to its Common Fisheries Policy. The goal is to end decades of overfishing, to rebuild dwindling fish stocks by 2020, preserve jobs in coastal areas, and make the industry more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. See EU Clinches Major Overhaul to Fisheries Policy (June 6, 2013) at: http://ictsd.org/i/news/bridgesweekly/165334/  and Europe adopts new Policy on Fisheries (Feb. 2013) at: http://ictsd.org/i/environment/153765/