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Species at Risk Act- Legal Listing Consultation Workbook, Pacific Region (2004)

Legal listing consultation workbooklegal listing consultation workbook

legal listing consultation workbooklegal listing consultation workbooklegal listing consultation workbook

Consultation Workbook

1.0 Objective of this Consultation

Your views are being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add any or all of the following five aquatic species to Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).  The species are currently designated by the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and include: White Sturgeon (Endangered), Grey Whale, Harbour Porpoise, Steller Sea Lion, and Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel (all Special Concern).

This workbook provides background information on SARA and the five species being considered for legal listing.  At the end of this workbook questions are provided to stimulate discussion.  Please complete any or all of the questions starting on page 18 and provide any additional comments you feel are relevant. 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 five species to the SARA legal list (Schedule 1).

A downloadable workbook, additional background information, references and contact information available at:

http://www-comm.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pages/consultations/consultation2004/main_e.htm , under: New Proposed SARA Legal Listings.  For further information on how to submit your workbook please see page 18.

To make sure your comments are considered, please send in your submission by Friday, December 10 2004.  Please note: the consultation period for white sturgeon may be extended.

2.0 What is the Species at Risk Act?

The Species at Risk Act 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 of the species, their residences and critical habitat.

Environment Canada is responsible for implementing SARA and Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for aquatic species.  Parks Canada is also responsible for all species that occur in National Parks (land and water), National Historic Sites, and National Marine Conservation Areas.  Government agencies (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal), Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, non-governmental organizations, landowners, resource users, and individuals across Canada must work together to ensure the survival of species at risk. In fact, the Act was designed to encourage such cooperation.

More information about SARA can be found at: www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca

2.1 The Role of COSEWIC

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is the independent body that assesses the status of wildlife species in Canada. Based on the scientific information compiled in a status report, COSEWIC classifies the species as being extinct, extirpated, endangered, threatened, of special concern, data deficient, or not at risk (see glossary for definitions). 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 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 criteria 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 at: 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 and public consultations, 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, information received from consultations like these 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 completed within prescribed timelines.

SARA prohibitions only apply to species listed as extirpated, endangered and threatened and not to species of special concern; however existing protections and prohibitions, such as those authorized by the Fisheries Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canada National Parks Act, continue to be in force.

2.3 Protection

Once species are legally listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened, automatic prohibitions apply. SARA has general prohibitions against killing, harming, taking, possessing, capturing, collecting and damaging or destroying residences that are legally listed. SARA 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 listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened, 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.  Prohibitions do not apply to species of special concern.

2.4 Recovery and Management Planning

The recovery process is designed to improve the status of species at risk. There are two parts to the recovery planning process: 1)the development of a recovery strategy, which identifies threats to the species and describes recovery objectives for that species; 2) 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. Recovery strategies and action plans are only developed for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened.  Management plans outlining conservation measures will be developed (or existing plans may be adopted if adequate) for species listed as special concern and their habitats.  Most often, recovery teams are formed to develop a recovery strategy based on the data gathered by COSEWIC as well as other available information. Recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans must be developed in cooperation and consultation with affected parties, and the public will be welcome to comment on any strategy via the Public Registry. 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 and describe examples of activities that are likely to result in its destruction and measures that are proposed 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 listed endangered or threatened species has been identified in a recovery strategy or action plan, destroying any part of it will be prohibited.

For these 5 species and in the future, the timeline for recovery strategies will be one year from the time of legal listing for endangered species, two years for species listed as extirpated or threatened, and three years for species of special concern.

2.5 Public Registry

The SARA Public Registry is a comprehensive web-based source of information that allows for timely access to public documents relating to SARA. It is a key instrument in fulfilling the government’s commitment to encourage public participation in environmental decision-making.  The Public Registry can be viewed at: www.sararegistry.gc.ca.  

The Registry includes documents such as regulations, orders, agreements, guidelines, standards, and codes of practice. In addition, it provides 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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