Fish Habitat Compensation (Canada)

The Fisheries Act and the 1986 Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat required compensation for impacts to fish habitat (more specifically 'harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction', or HADD, of fish habitat. The Fisheries act includes the principle of no net loss (of productive capacity of fish habitats), and authorization for impacts to fish habitat require a permit. To acquire a permit, the applicant must show adherence to a mitigation hierarchy by 'relocation, redesign, and mitigation'. In addition to this mitigation hierarchy, the guidance for habitat compensation in Canada provides a 'Hierarchy of Compensation Options'. This hierarchy places preference on the creation or increase of the productive capacity of like-for-like habitat in the same ecological unit. The creation or increase of productive capacity of unlike habitat in the same ecological unit is second in the hierarchy. Then, the creation or increase of productive capacity of habitat in a different ecological unit. Finally, the use of artificial production techniques to maintain stocked fish, deferred compensation, or restoration of chemically contaminated sites. Impacts on fish habitat rise primarily from urban land and industrial development, roads and highways, harbors and marinas, forestry, agriculture, hydropower, and extractive industries. . The Department of Fisheries and Oceans' (DFO) Fish Habitat Management Branch regulates fish habitat compensation. However, current policy provides little guidance to regulators as to how to calculate impact and compensation. As a result, fish habitat compensation also suffers from regional differences in calculation and compensation ratios which make accurate compensation difficult if not impossible.

Program Statistics

Date Established: 1986 Status: Active Program Type: One-Off Offset
About the program:
Annual size of program (area): 180 (hectares) Year of Data: 2008
Cumulative size of program (area): 1,440 (hectares) Years of Data: 2009 -
Annual payments of program (US$): 6,800,000 - 146,600,000 Year of Data: 2008
Cumulative payments of program (US$): 54,400,000 - 1,172,800,000 Years of Data: 2001 - 2009
Notes on program size or payments:

The annual program size is at minimum 180 hectares - estimated based on average compensation area per HADD authorization, and the amount of authorizations granted in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. Annual program payments (CAN$7 - $150 million or ~US$6.8 - $146.6 million) is based on the program size figures, multiplied by figures we found on average compensation and construction costs. Cumulative size and payments reflects annual size multiplied by 8 years (2001/2002 - 2008/2009, see For more information on the methods used to estimate these figures, see the State of Biodiversity Markets methods appendix available at:

Species or habitat types (if applicable): Salt marsh, high salt marsh and floodplain, tidal river, riverine, freshwater streams, lakes, intertidal and subtidal habitat. Along with the major 'habitat types', there were a number of further classifications for the habitat types: rearing, spawning, in-channel, off-channel, intertidal channel, intertdal marsh, intertidal mudflat, intertidal rocky, subtidal mudflat, subtidal rocky, lacustrine, estuarine, marine, and riparian.
Bank regulator information: Fisheries and Oceans Canada Last Updated: September 23, 2010