On July 11, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) brought into force amended regulations for the Marine Mammal Regulations to provide greater protection for marine mammals. Key amendments include disturbance provisions that enforce specific distance requirements between vessels, people and marine mammals to discourage interactions.
While we support policies that protect our natural environment, this announcement concerns us. With no advance notice given to affected businesses to prepare for these changes before the tourism high-season, the amendments caused uncertainty and disruption for many businesses at a critical time of year. This irresponsible implementation caused significant confusion with little clarity or flexibility offered to the industry. TIAC believes this is another prominent example of why the Government of Canada should enact a whole-of-government approach to tourism policy.
Whale watching and marine eco-tours are a significant driver of tourism business in Canada with an estimated 360 SME operators across Canada serving over 1 million tourists per year. These sudden changes in legislation can have a harmful impact on small marine experience business owners throughout the country who rely on tourism to provide good local jobs, and who invest significantly in marketing tourism experiences that now fall into a regulatory grey zone.
To address the concerns of our members affected by the updated legislation, we recently arranged a conference call with representatives from DFO to answer questions and provide clarity. Approximately 30 TIAC members took part on the call where a number of participants asked targeted questions to try to better understand how the regulations will be enforced, and impact regular business operations.
TIAC President and CEO Charlotte Bell also sent a letter to the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. It addressed our concerns about the amendments and urged immediate actions the DFO can take to improve communications with the tourism industry. TIAC continues to work with the DFO to address these issues on behalf of its members.
In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns, please contact Meagan Zettler, Public Affairs Manager firstname.lastname@example.org