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Legal Listing of Aquatic Species

Species At Risk Act

Legal Listing of Aquatic Species

Consultation Workbook

1.0 Objective of this Consultation

Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add any or all of the following 10 aquatic species to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
The species include: Blue Whale, Sei Whale, Humpback Whale, Enos Lake Stickleback, Speckled Dace, Salish Sucker, Cultus Lake Sockeye, Interior Fraser Coho, Sakinaw Lake Sockeye, and Bocaccio. Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important.

This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding the above mentioned 10 species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).

At the end of this workbook there are a series of questions about SARA and the impacts of legally listing a species, as well as the role you or your community might eventually take in the recovery process. You are encouraged to complete any or all of the questions starting on page 22 and provide any additional comments you feel are relevant. The questions are meant to stimulate discussion; you may have comments that do not fit with any of the questions and you are encouraged to provide those comments as well. Your ideas, knowledge, and advice are important to this process and will help the Government of Canada assess the impacts of adding any or all of these 10 species to the species at risk legal list. Your ideas and views on participation in the recovery planning process will be used to refine our current approach.

The downloadable workbook, additional background information, references and contact information can be found at: http://www-comm.pac.dfompogc.ca/pages/consultations/sara/listings_e.htm. For further information on how to submit your workbook please refer to page 21.

To make sure your comments are considered, please send in your submission by

2.0 What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) was created to ensure the survival of wildlife species and the protection of our natural heritage. It requires Canada to provide for the recovery of species at risk due to human activity, and to manage species of special concern to make sure they don't become endangered or threatened. It provides for the protection not only of species, but of their residences and critical habitat.

Environment Canada is responsible for implementing SARA as a whole, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada has responsibility for aquatic species at risk. Obviously no single organization or entity can be responsible on its own for ensuring the survival of species. The federal, provincial, and territorial governments; Aboriginal peoples; wildlife management boards; non-governmental organizations; landowners; resource users; and individuals across Canada must all work together. In fact, the Act was designed to encourage such cooperation.

The following section discusses some key issues related to SARA.

More about the Act can be found at the Species at Risk website: www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca

2.1 The Role of COSEWIC

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is the body designated to assess the status of wildlife species in Canada. Based on the information found in a status report, COSEWIC classifies the species as being extinct,
extirpated, endangered, threatened, of special concern, data deficient, or not at risk (the glossary at the end of this document explains these categories). COSEWIC's Species Specialist Subcommittees (SSC) provide expertise on particular groups of
plants and animals and make recommendations as to the appropriate status designation of a species to the entire Committee.

Members of COSEWIC do not formally represent the agency, group, or region from which they are drawn. They are appointed on the basis of their expertise, and will, to the best of their ability, provide independent and impartial scientific advice and recommendations.

COSEWIC assesses the biological status of a species using the best available information. It reviews research, considers community and Aboriginal traditional knowledge, and applies strict assessment criteria based on those developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. COSEWIC sends its assessment of the species to the Minister of the Environment to initiate the legal listing process.

More information about COSEWIC can be found on its website: www.cosewic.gc.ca

2.2 Legal Listing - What does this mean?

A species is not protected under SARA unless it is legally listed, which means included in the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1 of the Act). Following receipt of COSEWIC assessments, the federal government must do one of the following:

  1. Accept the assessment and add the species to the List,
  2. Decide not to add the species to the List, or
  3. Refer the current assessment back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

The decision on whether to add the species to the list takes into account the COSEWIC assessment and other factors such as potential social and economic impacts of the listing.

Once a species is legally listed as extirpated, endangered, or threatened, specific protection measures come into effect barring any harmful actions against the species and their residences. In addition, a recovery process must be initiated.

2.3 Protection

Once species are legally listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened, automatic prohibitions will apply. These provisions will be in effect from June 2004 for species currently on Schedule 1. Under SARA there are general prohibitions against killing,
harming, taking, possessing, capturing, and collecting legally listed species and against damaging or destroying their residences. The Act defines residences as: a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating. There will be a need to define more explicitly what a residence is in the case of aquatic species, and to determine whether the term applies to each species.

Prohibitions apply to migratory birds and aquatic species, as well as species found on federal lands in Canada's exclusive economic zone and in continental shelf areas. In certain cases prohibitions may apply to provincial and territorial lands.

2.4 Recovery Planning

The recovery process is designed to improve the status of species at risk. There are two parts to the recovery planning process: the development of a recovery strategy, which identifies threats to the species and describes recovery objectives for that species, and the development of an action plan, which describes activities to be carried out to promote the recovery of the species. Action plans are the method used to implement the recovery strategies. Most often, recovery teams are formed to
develop a recovery strategy using the information gathered by COSEWIC. Recovery planning is a continuous process -- recovery strategies must be updated every five years until the species is considered recovered.

Recovery strategies and action plans will, to the extent possible, identify the species' critical habitat, examples of activities that are likely to result in itsdestruction, and measures that are proposed to be taken to protect it. Where available information is inadequate, a schedule of studies will be included with the objective of identifying the species' critical habitat. Once critical habitat of a listedendangered or threatened species has been identified in a recovery strategy or action plan, destroying any part of it will be prohibited.

For species currently listed in Schedule 1, a recovery strategy will have to be developed within three years of the Act coming into force for endangered species, and within four years for extirpated or threatened species. For these 10 species and in the future, the timeline for recovery strategies will be one year from the time of legal listing for endangered species and two years for species listed as extirpated or threatened.

2.5 Public Registry

The SARA Public Registry is a comprehensive source of information relating to matters under the Act that allows for timely access to public documents relating to the administration of SARA. It is a key instrument in fulfilling thegovernment'scommitment to encourage public participation in environmental decision-making. The Public Registry can be accessed through the web at: www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

The Registry will include documents such as regulations, orders, agreements, guidelines, standards, and codes of practice. In addition, it will provide species assessments and status reports, recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans for the recovery of wildlife species.

Anyone may provide written comments on a proposed recovery strategy, action plan, or management plan for a wildlife species. The general public has 60 days after the
strategy or plan is posted on the Registry to provide feedback.

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