BURNABY (NEWS1130) –     As scientists and even former fisheries ministers condemn the move to weaken protection for fish habitats, the world is gathering in Rio de Janeiro to discuss pressing environmental concerns.

A local marine conservation specialist believes the world will take notice of what’s happening in Canada.

“Canada used to have a very good reputation as an environmental steward and I think that has been threatened by a lot of these decisions that have been made in recent history,” explains SFU doctoral student Brett Favaro.

The Federal Fisheries Act used to specify that activities endangering any fish habitat were prohibited. But that was altered in the omnibus bill that was passed on Thursday. Its focus now is protecting habitats for commercial fish.

Favaro says it’s going to be very difficult to identify which waterways are important to commercial fishing, since all habitats are interconnected.

“We are stewards of a huge amount of aquatic habitat so the decisions we make in Canada are internationally significant.”

He says you only have to look at the recent headlines about a beached whale and a snakehead fish to realize how much we value aquatic life.