Registration
SOR/2006-60 April 6, 2006

SPECIES AT RISK ACT

Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act

P.C. 2006-198 April 6, 2006

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (see footnote a), hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

ORDER AMENDING SCHEDULES 1 TO 3 TO THE SPECIES AT RISK ACT

AMENDMENTS

1. Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act(see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading "MAMMALS":

Whale, Northern Bottlenose (Hyperoodon ampullatus) Scotian Shelf population
Baleine à bec commune, population du plateau néo-écossais

2. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading "FISH":

Darter, Channel (Percina copelandi)
Fouille-roche gris

3. Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading "FISH":

Darter, Channel (Percina copelandi)
Fouille-roche gris

4. Schedule 3 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading "MAMMALS":

Whale, Northern Bottlenose (Hyperoodon ampullatus) Gully population
Baleine à bec commune, population du ravin océanique

COMING INTO FORCE

5. This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Order.)

Description

The Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, amends, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, by adding two species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, governments, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

The purpose of SARA is threefold: to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct; to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity; and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened. SARA complements provincial and territorial laws as well as existing federal legislation.

By means of an Order issued by the GIC, SARA provides for wildlife species to be added to or removed from Schedule 1, or their classification changed, following their assessment by COSEWIC. The regulatory process for amending the List of Wildlife Species at Risk is subject to the Federal Regulatory Policy, which requires consultations with Canadians as well as consideration of benefits and costs.

SARA establishes COSEWIC as an independent, scientific advisory body on the status of species at risk. The Committee's primary function is to assess the level of risk for wildlife species based on the best available information on the biological status of a species, including scientific knowledge, Aboriginal traditional knowledge and community knowledge. This assessment is based on biological factors identified in detailed status reports and the application of assessment criteria.

The degree of risk to a species is categorized according to the terms extirpated, endangered, threatened and special concern. A species is assessed by COSEWIC as extirpated when it no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but still exists elsewhere in the wild. It is endangered if it is facing imminent extirpation or extinction, and threatened if the species is likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction. Special concern status is given to a species if it may become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Adding a species to Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened under SARA may lead to the application of prohibitions that make it an offence to kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a wildlife species, or to damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a wildlife species. Prohibitions may also apply that make it an offence to possess, collect, buy, sell or trade individuals of a wildlife species. Generally speaking, these prohibitions apply automatically to aquatic species that are listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened wherever they are found. For all species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened, a recovery strategy must be developed within fixed timelines and, in general, at least one action plan must be prepared based on the recovery strategy. For those listed as species of special concern, a management plan must be prepared.

In January 2004, the Minister of the Environment received assessments for 79 species that had been assessed by COSEWIC at its meetings of May 2002, November 2002, and May 2003. Twenty-eight of these 79 assessments were for aquatic species. COSEWIC assessments for 16 of these 28 aquatic species were forwarded to GIC for receipt in April 2004, which initiated the nine-month timeline that ended in January 2005. For these initial 16 aquatic species, GIC decided to list 13, not list two, and return one assessment back to COSEWIC for further consideration. Forwarding the COSEWIC assessments to the GIC for the remaining 12 aquatic species was delayed to provide adequate time for consultations and analysis of the biological, social, and economic impacts of listing the species under SARA. It was recognized at that time that listing these species could have significant social and/or economic impacts.

The COSEWIC assessments for the remaining 12 aquatic species were forwarded to GIC for receipt on July 15, 2005, which initiated the nine-month listing timeline that will end on April 15, 2006. Of the twelve species, the GIC has decided, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, to add two aquatic species to Schedule 1, not add Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser Population) and three populations of Atlantic Cod, and that COSEWIC assessments for six aquatic species be referred back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

The two aquatic species that are being added to Schedule 1 are the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf Population) and Channel Darter.

Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf Population)

The Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a member of the beaked whale family Ziphiidae, and is one of only two species belonging to the genus Hyperoodon known worldwide. The 6-9 metres long whale is found only in the North Atlantic, primarily in water deeper than 800 metres. There are several known areas of abundance, two of which are off Canada – the edge of the Scotian Shelf and the Davis Strait. These two populations are described as largely or totally distinct from one another. The Scotian Shelf population is seen regularly within and between three submarine canyons: the Gully, Shortland Canyon and Haldimand Canyon. As well, there have been sightings in other areas of the Scotian Shelf.

Northern Bottlenose Whales feed primarily on deep-living squid and they appear to spend a significant portion of their time foraging for food at great depths. Northern Bottlenose Whales have highly developed vocalizing and hearing abilities that allow them to communicate, navigate, and locate prey in canyons and other deep areas. They are social animals, frequently seen in small groups of up to four whales, and occasionally in larger groups of up to twenty whales. COSEWIC has assessed this population as endangered and states that oil and gas development, commercial shipping, and fishing activity pose the greatest threats.

Channel Darter

The Channel Darter is a small bottom dwelling fish that is light sand or olive-coloured with brown speckles on its back and X-shaped markings scattered over its dorsal surface. The Channel Darter was and still is uncommon in Canada, with disjunct populations currently found in Ontario and Quebec. In the United States, Channel Darter is widely but discontinuously distributed and present in low numbers. This species prefers pools and margins of riffles of small to medium-sized rivers and sand and gravel beaches of lakeshores where the current is slow or sluggish. Locations where Channel Darters were collected in Canada have been described as undisturbed rivers along forested or agricultural areas with natural shorelines and good water quality.

COSEWIC has assessed the Channel Darter as threatened. The primary threats identified by COSEWIC are the loss of suitable habitat because they are sensitive to sedimentation, decreased water quality, the disruption of spawning activities, and invasive predator species.

The risk status, as assessed by COSEWIC, for each of the two listed species is presented in Appendix 1. Detailed information on each species added to Schedule 1 is available from the COSEWIC status reports, which can be found on the SARA Public Registry at www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

Alternatives

Under SARA, the GIC can, within nine months after receiving an assessment of the status of a species by COSEWIC, take a number of courses of action including: (1) accepting the assessment and adding the species to Schedule 1; (2) deciding to not add the species to Schedule 1; or (3) referring the assessment back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration. All three courses of action were considered when developing this Order.

The first course of action mentioned above is to accept the assessments and to propose adding the species to Schedule 1 of SARA. Species added to Schedule 1 receive protection in accordance with the provisions of SARA, including mandatory recovery planning. The GIC, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment after having consulted with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is adding two species to Schedule 1 of SARA.

The second course of action is to not add the species to Schedule 1. Species at risk not added to Schedule 1 would not benefit from the protection and recovery planning measures afforded by SARA. They would, however, be managed, protected, and recovered under other federal, provincial, or territorial legislation, through other government programs or policies, or actions of non-government organizations or individuals.

The GIC, on the recommendation of the Minister of Environment after having consulted the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is not listing three populations of Atlantic Cod (Newfoundland and Labrador, Laurentian North, Maritimes) for several reasons, including complexities associated with the differing biological status, socio-economic and management implications of each individual cod stock. Atlantic Cod is found all across Atlantic Canada and Quebec and the biological status is highly variable. For the Newfoundland and Labrador and Laurentian North populations there are potential unacceptable socio-economic impacts on Canadians and coastal communities of Atlantic Canada. There are also international management considerations.

The GIC, on the recommendation of the Minister of Environment after having consulted the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is also not listing Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser Population) based on uncertainties associated with changes in the marine environment and potential future socio-economic impacts on users associated with the uncertainty. Not listing provides future management flexibility related to uncertainty about marine survival and possible difficulties in recovery if marine survival worsens.

The third course of action is to refer the assessment back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration. During the time that COSEWIC reviews the new information and confirms or modifies its assessment, the species would not benefit from the protection and recovery planning measures afforded by SARA. It would, however, be managed, protected, and recovered under other federal, provincial, or territorial legislation, through other government programs or policies, or actions of non-government organizations or individuals.

The GIC, on the recommendation of the Minister of Environment after having consulted the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, is returning the assessments for Atlantic Cod (Arctic population), Bocaccio Rockfish, Cusk, Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population), Shortjaw Cisco, and the Lake Winnipeg Physa to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

Benefits and Costs

Adding species to Schedule 1 of SARA entails both benefits and costs in terms of social, economic and environmental considerations through the implementation of SARA's immediate prohibitions upon the listing of aquatic species and the Act's recovery requirements. Some impacts can be quantified in absolute terms, while others are more qualitative, such as the intrinsic value of species or their contribution to biological diversity.

Benefits

SARA provides a framework for actions across Canada to help to ensure the survival of wildlife species at risk and the protection of our natural heritage. Upon being listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA, migratory birds protected by the Migratory Bird Convention Act, 1994 and aquatic species wherever they are found, as well as all extirpated, endangered or threatened species found on federal lands, benefit from immediate protection in the form of prohibitions against killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking individuals of the species. Once listed, these species are also protected by prohibitions against possessing, collecting, buying, selling or trading individuals, or parts or derivatives thereof, of extirpated, endangered or threatened listed species. In addition, the damage or destruction of the residences of one or more individuals of a species is prohibited for those species listed as endangered or threatened, or for those species listed as extirpated if a recovery strategy has recommended the re-introduction of the species into the wild in Canada.

Listed species also benefit from the implementation of recovery strategies, action plans and management plans. If a species is listed on Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened, under section 37 of SARA, the competent minister is required to prepare a strategy for its recovery. Recovery strategies and action plans are developed through consultation and cooperation with people likely to be affected by the implementation of recovery measures including Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, provincial and territorial governments, stakeholders, and other interested groups and individuals. Action plans implement recovery strategies for listed species by identifying: measures to achieve the population objectives for the species; activities that would destroy the species' critical habitat; any portions of unprotected critical habitat; and methods to monitor the recovery of the species and its long-term viability. An action plan also requires an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action(s) and the benefits to be derived from its implementation. For those listed as species of special concern, management plans must be prepared. Recovery strategies, actions plans and management plans must be included in the Public Registry within the timelines set out under SARA.

Many of the species occupy an ecological niche as predators, prey or symbionts, such that their recovery may contribute to strengthening related predator/prey populations and ecosystems. Conservation measures taken to protect species listed under SARA may also prevent other species from becoming at risk. These species provide various ecosystem services and serve as indicators of, and contributors to, environmental quality. Many of these geographically and biologically distinct species are of public and scientific interest due to their unique genetic composition and evolutionary histories.

Industries such as fishing have recognized that sustainable use of the resource can lead to the long-term viability of the resource. Ecosystem health and the sustainable use of our current natural resources may be the source of future economic and employment opportunities.

Species also have substantial non economic or intrinsic value to Canadian society. Canadians want to preserve species for future generations to enjoy. Many derive value from knowing the species exists, even if they will never personally see or "use" them. There is also value derived from retaining the option to observe or even use the species at some future time.

Listing of species under SARA may also contribute to Canada's image as international leader in environmental conservation and supports our role in international trade discussions.

Costs

Adding an endangered or threatened species to Schedule 1, and the resulting application of prohibitions and mandatory recovery provisions, may lead to costs for Aboriginal communities, industry, governments and other affected parties. Costs may also arise from SARA prohibitions, as well as from recovery and critical habitat protection measures, once they are in place. As a result of the protection afforded by the prohibitions and recovery actions applying to listed aquatic species found everywhere, listing of these species creates obligations for the federal government to ensure compliance with SARA.

A major cause of the decline of species at risk is the conversion of our natural areas for other uses that provide a value to society, but forces us to find substitutes for the services that the natural habitat provides. Such services include water purification, waste treatment, cleansing of the atmosphere, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, erosion control, pollination, pest control, flood prevention, soil formation and retention, alternative recreation services and more. The substitutes for natural services may be more expensive to build and to continuously operate.

Although there are potential costs associated with listing these two aquatic species, it appears at the present time that they will be limited, as existing conservation measures have already been in place for a number of years, particularly for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population). Any incremental costs from listing will be mitigated to the extent possible through stakeholder involvement, using mechanisms such as recovery teams.

With respect to the Channel Darter, this species is not directly commercially or recreationally harvested, although there is likely some incidental catch by bait fishers in Ontario and Quebec. Future recovery measures will likely involve some level of mitigation of habitat threats, rather than fishery restrictions. However, even for future further reduction of habitat threats, the estimated impacts are low for water level regulation, hydro operations, and agriculture operations. While there is a potential for impacts to hydro operations, it remains unclear as to what will be required to bring existing structures into compliance with SARA. Fishing operations may be minimally impacted in the future through the implementation of bycatch avoidance measures.

The costs associated with listing the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population) under SARA are anticipated to be minimal due to overlap with other ongoing conservation efforts and regulatory controls. In the future, if new conservation measures are required, there may be some additional incremental costs to industry. These might include additional costs to the oil and gas industry for mitigation and monitoring or increased operating costs to the fishing industry if certain areas become closed to fishing. Protection and recovery of this species should be viewed in the context of the conservation efforts undertaken over the past 10 years; various regulators and industries have made significant efforts to understand and mitigate impacts.

A variety of direct management costs will result from adding a species to Schedule 1, including developing and implementing recovery strategies, action plans and management plans, as well as conducting research, consultation, negotiation, monitoring, enforcement and stewardship activities. There are three main federal funding programs centered on the protection and recovery of species at risk that add to the investments made by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Parks Canada Agency and many other federal departments and Crown corporations, governments, and non-government organizations involved in the recovery of species at risk. The three federal funding programs are: the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk; the Endangered Species Recovery Fund; and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund.

For future projects that are likely to affect a listed wildlife species and trigger a federal environmental assessment, SARA requires that the competent Minister be notified in writing of the project. The person required to ensure that a federal environmental assessment is conducted must identify any adverse effects on the listed wildlife species and its critical habitat, and, if the project is carried out, ensure that measures are taken to avoid or lessen those effects and to monitor them. These requirements may lead to additional costs to the proponent in both preparing the environmental assessment and fulfilling any mitigation and monitoring requirements.

Consultation

Public consultation is an essential part of the regulatory and decision-making process of the Government of Canada. The SARA listing process was designed to be both open and transparent. Under SARA, the scientific assessment of species status and the decision to place a species on the legal list involve two distinct processes. This separation guarantees that scientists benefit from independence when making assessments of the biological status of wildlife species and that Canadians have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process in determining whether or not a species will be listed under SARA.

Public consultations were conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the proposed listing of the current 12 aquatic species during 2004 and 2005. Consultations were facilitated through workshops, workbooks and other supporting documents, which were posted online on the SARA Public Registry and Fisheries and Oceans Canada Web sites. These documents were also mailed directly to Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, other government departments, stakeholders, and non-governmental organizations. Public sessions were conducted in communities, and additional meetings were held with interested or potentially affected individuals, organizations and Aboriginal peoples.

For three populations of Atlantic Cod (Newfoundland and Labrador, North Laurentian, Maritimes), consultation meetings were held with Aboriginal peoples, the general public, and interested stakeholders in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. Thousands of individuals participating in meetings in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Quebec overwhelmingly opposed the listing of these three Atlantic Cod populations under SARA. Reasons given for this position included the impacts of closing directed and by-catch fisheries, concerns with the COSEWIC process, and that SARA is not a suitable tool for managing aquatic species. The provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, have recommended that these three Atlantic Cod populations not be listed under SARA. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, responses from the public and numerous fishing industry groups were against listing, based on concerns with COSEWIC's assessments and process. In Quebec, reaction from the fishing industry to listing these three Atlantic Cod populations under SARA was mixed. Responses from environmental organizations were generally favourable to listing under SARA.

Consultations on the proposed listing of Cusk and the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population) were conducted with the general public and interested stakeholders from September 15 to October 29, 2004. Two hundred and nine individuals or organizations were provided consultation workbooks and surveys, which were also available online via the SARA Public Registry. As well, approximately 130 participants attended meetings on the proposed listing under SARA of Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population) and Cusk. The vast majority of responses during public meetings were against listing Cusk, based on potential negative economic implications and concerns with COSEWIC's assessment and process. A number of First Nations indicated that a decision to list Cusk could impact some Marshall-related commercial fisheries and raised concerns that the COSEWIC assessment was potentially flawed. The provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have recommended that Cusk not be added to the SARA list. For Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population), the majority of those that participated in the public consultations support listing, including conservation organizations. Some industry stakeholders had some concerns about listing based on potential costs and lost opportunities if additional protection measures are introduced. The oil and gas industry, while not opposed to listing, has raised some concerns with the COSEWIC designation criteria. The province of Nova Scotia is not opposed to listing as the socioeconomic implications are relatively small.

Consultations on whether or not to list Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population) under SARA were conducted in 2004 and 2005 through the use of consultation workbooks, which were mailed to stakeholders and provided online, and meetings with governments and stakeholders. Several conservation organizations support listing the Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population). Responses from industry were mixed. Some stakeholders and organizations involved in the shipping industry generally did not oppose listing, while some fishing groups and Atlantic governments indicated listing could negatively impact fishing opportunities. Comments received during consultations noted that there had been a substantial reduction in by-catch in the gillnet fishery in recent years due in part to voluntary measures taken by the local fishing industry. As well, there is currently a program to live-release harbour porpoise from herring weirs in the Bay of Fundy. The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) supports the recommendation to return the assessment for Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population) to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

Recommendations on whether or not to list four inland aquatic species were the subject of consultations during 2004 and 2005.

With respect to the Arctic population of Atlantic Cod, the Government of Nunavut does not support listing this species. Along with others, they are unclear whether the COSEWIC assessment refers to landlocked populations or also includes those found in the marine environment. Nunavut is also concerned that listing this species could negatively impact developing fisheries. Hunting and Trapping Organizations neither agreed nor disagreed with listing, but noted that COSEWIC did not speak with them or employ Aboriginal traditional knowledge when developing the assessment. The NWMB supports the recommendation to return the assessment for Atlantic Cod (Arctic population) to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

Overall, the public and environmental groups support listing Channel Darter under SARA. Of the five First Nations contacted regarding this species, one responded and indicated that the preservation of the species was important. The Government of Quebec has no objection to listing this species under SARA. Likewise, the Government of Ontario does not anticipate any issues related to listing this species.

During consultations on whether or not to list the Lake Winnipeg Physa, significant concerns were raised with respect to the COSEWIC assessment. Specifically, some scientists raised questions as to whether or not the Lake Winnipeg Physa is a separate species, a hybrid, or a population of a more widespread species with various morphologies, based on ecology. There were also concerns about the lack of clarity regarding the threats described by COSEWIC. The importance of validating threats is that if listed and the threats became validated, impacts from listing could range from increased monitoring of near-water activities to significant restrictions on agriculture and mining activities, fertilizer and waste management practices, and changes to hydro operating procedures. In addition, it is difficult to protect a species unless threats are clearly identified. Environmental groups and the public largely support the listing of this species.

Responses on whether or not to list the Shortjaw Cisco ranged from general support for listing, conditional support for listing based on the development of sound management decisions, and rejection of listing based on a lack of credible scientific data and the lack of recognition of First Nation treaty rights. The commercial and sport fishing sectors are concerned that listing would negatively impact directed or bycatch fisheries. First Nations are opposed to listing until more information becomes available about this species and the potential impacts on their fishing activities. The Government of Ontario is concerned that listing this species will negatively impact First Nation's fisheries, as well as fisheries in Lake Nipigon, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. The governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Northwest Territories support listing the Shortjaw Cisco.

During 2004, DFO undertook consultation throughout British Columbia to provide information on listing a number of Pacific aquatic species, including Bocaccio and Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser population). More than 700 individuals attended meetings from First Nations, the commercial and sport fishing industry, a number of environmental groups and non-government environmental organizations, the provincial government, and the general public. Most commercial fishery stakeholders strongly oppose listing Bocaccio and question the methodology used by COSEWIC to determine population decline rates, while environmental and stewardship groups support listing. Some First Nations, particularly those involved in the commercial fishery, do not support the addition of Bocaccio to the SARA list. They also raised concerns that food, social, and ceremonial fishing for rockfish could be negatively impacted if this species was listed. They also question the lack of abundance data for central and north coasts and identified the need for more assessment. For Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser population), environmental groups and some First Nations were supportive of listing, while others involved in the commercial fishery are largely opposed to listing. Recreational and commercial harvesters oppose listing this species. They believe that sufficient recovery has taken place to relax current restrictions. Fishing interests have questioned why a species that is already rebuilding should be listed and potentially subjected to new restrictions. Given the vast size and the great variability in habitat of the Fraser River watershed, participants recommended applying separate goals and objectives to the management of each sub-species of Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser population). The Government of British Columbia has recommended not listing both Bocaccio and Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser population).

Canada Gazette, Part I

Following initial consultations, the proposal to add three species to Schedule 1 was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a final 30-day period of public review and comment on December 10, 2005.

By far the greatest number of responses was received from those both in favour and critical of the recommendation to add Interior Fraser Coho Salmon to Schedule 1.

Opposition to listing Interior Fraser Coho was received from commercial and sport fishers, sport fishing associations, and related businesses associated with the sport fishing industry. Generally, this opposition was based on an improved population status over the last few years. Although there has been a recent downward trend, indications are that Interior Fraser Coho has been recovering based on the current fisheries management regime, habitat improvements, and improved water flow conditions. Those opposed to listing view SARA as creating a management regime that would be unresponsive to improving environmental conditions and an increasing population. At the same time, there was general support for developing and implementing a recovery strategy. The British Columbia south coast Purse Seine salmon fleet opposes the listing of Interior Fraser Coho, based on the possibility of further restrictions to the fishery. Sport fishers and the sport fishing industry also raised concerns about incremental costs associated with additional fishing restrictions and the effects of habitat and resident protection if Interior Fraser Coho were to be listed.

Responses from First Nations with respect to the listing recommendation for Interior Fraser Coho were mixed, with some against listing this species and other responses critical of the proposed approach. Those in favour of listing indicated that SARA would help to increase the population, while those against listing cited the recent re-building of the population meant that no additional measures were required. Many responses from First Nations indicated the need for more consultations during the development of listing recommendations.

The government of British Columbia reiterated that Interior Fraser Coho should not be listed under SARA, based on their position that current science does not support listing, and that listing under SARA would not provide better protection for the species.

Many other responses from concerned citizens, environmental and conservation organizations, and some First Nations responded with their support for the proposed recommendation to list the Interior Fraser Coho under SARA. This support was based on the view that SARA provides an additional legislative tool to protect Interior Fraser Coho and habitat essential for its survival, and that SARA provides the best opportunity to ensure the recovery of this species. Some First Nations indicated that an increased population size of Interior Fraser Coho was needed to meet conservation goals and the needs of the broader First Nations community.

The remaining responses were either related to specific species, or a statement of general position on listing species under SARA. Industry groups support not listing three Atlantic Cod populations (Newfoundland and Labrador, Laurentian North, Maritimes), given the stocks are not at risk of extinction or extirpation and are being managed and support the recommendation to return the assessment for Cusk to COSEWIC for further consideration. Industry groups and the BC Minister of Environment responded with support for returning the assessment for Bocaccio back to COSEWIC. There was also some support for listing Atlantic Cod under SARA, including the position of an environmental organization that the magnitude of decline qualified these stocks for endangered or threatened status.

Input was also received from a hydro operator regarding the proposed recommendation to add Channel Darter to Schedule 1. Depending on the locations of this species, the hydro operator is concerned that listing this species may have socio-economic impacts regarding electricity supply within Ontario. Unfortunately, little is currently known about the impacts of dams and water management on the Channel Darter. It will be important for the hydro industry to be consulted during the development of the recovery strategy. Also, it is highly possible that measures required to protect critical life stages of this species will not be that different from current management measures that the hydro industry is taking on a volunteer basis across Ontario.

During the pre-publication period, COSEWIC indicated support for the recommendations to add Northern Bottlenose Whale, Channel Darter, and Interior Fraser Coho Salmon to Schedule 1. However, COSEWIC also disagreed with the rationale for not listing Atlantic Cod, disagreed with concerns raised about the scientific methods used to determine risk status, and questioned the reasons for returning the six assessments to COSEWIC for further information or consideration. COSEWIC also indicated their interest in receiving detailed reasoning for reconsidering the assessments for certain aquatic species. In keeping with the process used to return assessments to COSEWIC for further information or consideration, the Government of Canada will provide COSEWIC with detailed reasoning for returning the six assessments for further information or consideration.

After consideration of the results from consultations, analysis of biological and socio-economic impacts, and comments received during publication of the proposed recommendations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, the Minister of the Environment has recommended to add two aquatic species to Schedule 1, not add Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser Population) and three populations of Atlantic Cod, and that COSEWIC assessments for six aquatic species be referred back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

A decision to list the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population) and Channel Darter, as assessed by COSEWIC, will ensure that they receive the full benefits of the protection and recovery measures established in the SARA. These benefits are in addition to those provided by existing legislative and non-legislative tools to manage aquatic species.

For the current species, Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population) and Channel Darter are being listing as endangered and threatened, respectively. Upon listing, the prohibitions under SARA will be in force and recovery strategies will be required within two years for the Channel Darter and within three years for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population), since the latter is a reassessment of a species that occurred on Schedule 3 of SARA.

The protection and recovery of these two species will also continue under other complementary legislation and programs. For example, the Marine Mammal Regulations of the Fisheries Act govern some aspects of activities that may affect Northern Bottlenose Whale, as they prohibit disturbing or killing marine mammals unless authorized. To date, these Regulations have been used to effectively prevent any hunting of this marine mammal since the 1970s. The Gully Marine Protected Area, designated by regulation in May 2004, provides protection for Northern Bottlenose Whale in a portion of its range. Enhanced requirements for the environmental assessments of oil and gas activities have been put in place since the late 1990s to address uncertainties of the effects of seismic activity.

A decision to not list species means that the prohibition and recovery measures under SARA will not apply. However, other existing tools, including legislation such as the Fisheries Act, and non legislative tools such as government programs and actions by non government organizations, industry, and Canadians will continue to protect and recover the species.

Three populations of Atlantic Cod are not being listed under SARA. However, many conservation measures are already in place to protect and conserve Atlantic Cod. These measures include moratoria, reduced direct and bycatch harvests, reduced allowable harvest of capelin (a prey species of cod), mandatory harvest plans for all groundfish, and the use of at sea observers to monitor the harvest of Atlantic Cod. Three complementary federal-provincial Cod Action Teams have existed since 2003 and are developing rebuilding strategies for most stocks in these populations.

As well, Coho Salmon (Interior Fraser Population) is not being listed under SARA. Substantial protective measures for Interior Fraser Coho Salmon have been in place since 1980, including the complete ban on retention of wild coho in times and areas where Interior Fraser Coho stocks are known to be prevalent. This population will continue to be managed under the Fisheries Act that provides for the conservation of the resource and protection of its habitat. With this approach, Interior Fraser Coho will continue to be managed as a conservation unit under the new Wild Salmon Policy, which recognizes Interior Fraser Coho as a distinct conservation unit and affords it protection. This approach also provides the best opportunity to continue to protect and recover this population, in collaboration with stakeholders and the province of British Columbia that are essential to the success of wild stocks of Coho.

Assessments for six species are being returned to COSEWIC for further consideration or information. Where there is concern about whether a population is a designable unit or not or where validation of threats is needed, such as for the Lake Winnipeg Physa, Shortjaw Cisco, and the Arctic population of Atlantic Cod, further consideration by COSEWIC may be helpful to substantiate or clarify the assessment such that a reasonable analysis of next steps by governments and stakeholders can take place. If for example, a species is reconsidered and more research is needed to substantiate the existence of the species or threats, resources that would have been targeted to protect and recover that species could be redirected to species that do exist and for which threats can be validated and addressed.

In other cases where the designable unit is certain or threats are known, existing conservation measures are often already in place. For example, conservation measures for Bocaccio are well monitored in both the commercial trawl fishery hook-and-line fisheries through at-sea observer programs and dockside monitoring. Voluntary mitigative measures adopted in 2004 in the commercial trawl fishery have resulted in a 50 per cent decrease in bycatch of Bocaccio. As well, catches of Bocaccio in the United States, which may have an impact on Canadian abundance, have been significantly reduced. DFO will support scientific research in this area and will continue to work with industry to design protection and recovery measures for Bocaccio.

For both Cusk and Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population), DFO will focus on a commitment to increase scientific research regarding these species, which will allow for tracking of the status of these species. For Cusk, current and proposed research includes efforts to define biological status, evaluation of survival upon release from fishing gear, and potential benefits from modifications to fishing gear or practices. In the case of Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population), scientific research will continue in the area of reduced gear entanglement. As well, the Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population) will continue to be protected under the Marine Mammal Regulations of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the harvest of Harbour Porpoise. While there remains some bycatch of Harbour Porpoise (Northwest Atlantic population), steps have been taken to reduce this catch through measures such as time and area closures. While bycatch of Harbour Porpoise exists in herring weir and groundfish gillnet fisheries, approximately 93 per cent of these marine mammals that are captured in the Bay of Fundy herring weir fishery are released alive. Other future measures to conserve Harbour Porpoise could involve the use of acoustic deterrents or modified gear by the fishing industry.

When species that are proposed for not listing or for referral back to COSEWIC are found within the boundaries of national parks of Canada or other lands administered by the Parks Canada Agency, they would continue to be protected or managed under the Canada National Parks Act or measures and management tools available to the Parks Canada Agency under other legislation.

Compliance and Enforcement

SARA promotes protection and recovery of species at risk by engaging Canadians in stewardship programs, and by giving landowners, land users and other stakeholders the opportunity to participate in the recovery process. Stewardship actions include the wide range of voluntary actions Canadians are taking to monitor species at risk and their habitats, recovery measures to improve the status of species at risk, and direct actions to protect species at risk.

Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada facilitate stewardship activities and promote compliance with SARA by producing promotional and educational materials, and by organizing educational activities. These materials and activities include, for example, the SARA Public Registry, an electronic information bulletin, posters, information sessions, engaging learning activities, Web features, curricula and other public education projects. As well, funding under the Habitat Stewardship Program is available for those groups or individuals wishing to undertake projects to protect and enhance important habitat.

At the time of listing, timelines apply for the preparation of recovery strategies and plans. The implementation of these plans may result in recommendations for further regulatory action for protection of the species. It may draw on the provisions of other acts of Parliament, such as the Fisheries Act, to provide required protection.

SARA provides for penalties for contraventions to the Act, including liability for costs incurred by Her Majesty, fines or imprisonment, alternative measures agreements, seizure and forfeiture of the proceeds of an illegal activity. SARA also provides qualified officers designated under the Act with inspection and search and seizure powers. Under the penalty provisions of SARA, a corporation found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $300,000, a non-profit corporation to a fine of not more than $50,000, and any other person to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both. In the case of a corporation found guilty of an indictable offence, it is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000,000, a non-profit corporation to a fine of not more than $250,000, and any other person to a fine of not more than $250,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, or to both.

Certain activities affecting a listed species will require permits. Such permits can be considered only for research relating to the conservation of a species that is conducted by qualified scientists, for activities that benefit a listed species or enhance its chances of survival, or when affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of an activity. These exceptions can be made when a competent minister is of the opinion that all reasonable alternatives to the activity have been considered and the best solution has been adopted, when all feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity, and when the survival or recovery of the species will not be jeopardized by the activity.

Contact

Peter Ferguson
Policy Coordination and Liaison
Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6
E-mail: sararegistry@ec.gc.ca

Appendix 1: Two species for listing on Schedule 1, List of Wildlife Species at Risk, to the Species at Risk Act

TaxonSpecies
Endangered 
MammalsNorthern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf Population
Threatened 
FishChannel Darter

Footnote a

S.C. 2002, c. 29

Footnote 1

S.C. 2002, c. 29