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Legal Listing Consultation Workbook for the Atlantic populations of Blue Shark, Shortfin Mako and White Shark
Species at Risk and You
Scientists estimate that the world’s species are becoming extinct at a rate that is as much as 10,000 times higher than it should naturally be. It’s a staggering statistic and a source of concern for all humans. Although many Canadians understand that species have intrinsic worth, sometimes we forget why the disappearance of a species matters. At the most basic level, species diversity, often referred to as “biodiversity,” is crucial to ensure that life continues on earth. From a human standpoint, biodiversity also supports people’s livelihoods, enables sustainable development and encourages cooperation among nations.
In 2003, the Government of Canada took a major step toward protecting species at risk and their habitats in Canada when it proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). SARA was designed as a key tool for the conservation and protection of biodiversity in Canada. It provides a framework for action across the country to ensure the survival and recovery of wildlife species at risk and the protection of our natural heritage. The law protects those plants and animals that are included on the “List of Wildlife Species at Risk,” sometimes referred to as “Schedule 1” or the “SARA List.”
(For more information on SARA, visit the SARA Public Registry at www.sararegistry.gc.ca)
In order to determine which species should be “listed,” or added to the SARA list of protected species, the Government of Canada consults the general public, with special emphasis on those groups either directly involved with or particularly interested in the species under review. The government makes its decision only after carefully considering the outcome of consultations as well as the potential social and economic implications of listing the species. This consultation workbook is part of the Government’s effort to obtain feedback on whether or not blue shark, shortfin mako and white shark should be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk.
Your thoughts on this issue are important and play a crucial role in the listing process. They will be carefully reviewed and considered. Please answer all of the questions in this book to the best of your ability. If you have additional comments, space has been provided for them as well. To ensure that your responses are considered, please return your completed workbook or any other comments you may have to one of the addresses on page 14 by April 1, 2007. Thank you for your help.
For More Information on Species at Risk in Canada
Terms You Should Know
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assigns a “status” to each species it considers. The status indicates the degree to which a species is at risk. Considered here are:
Extirpated: A species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere in the world
Endangered: A species facing imminent extinction or extirpation
Threatened: A species that is likely to become endangered if certain factors affecting it are not addressed
Special Concern: A species with biological characteristics that make it particularly vulnerable to human activity or certain natural phenomena
Other Information You Should Know
How is a Species Listed?
- The species is assessed and assigned a status by the COSEWIC. This committee is comprised of specialists working in a variety of relevant fields, such as biology, ecology, and traditional ecological knowledge. They come from government, universities, Aboriginal organizations, and non-governmental organizations, and they are appointed according to their expertise. However they do not represent the agency, group or region from which they are drawn, but must provide impartial scientific recommendations about the species they are considering.
- The COSEWIC provides the status report to the Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, which is comprised of provincial and territorial ministers responsible for the conservation and management of wildlife, in addition to the federal ministers responsible for the administration of SARA (the Minister of the Environment, and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans). A copy is also posted on the SARA Public Registry.
- The Minister of the Environment indicates how he or she will respond to a COSEWIC assessment in a “Response Statement”. This Response Statement indicates the nature and timing of consultations and is posted on the SARA Public Registry within 90 days of receiving the COSEWIC Assessment.
- Consultations are undertaken by the lead federal departments, Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and the information brought forward is analyzed.
- Based on advice from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister of the Environment must provide the Governor in Council (the Governor General of Canada acting on the advice of Cabinet) with a recommendation to add or not add the species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. In order to make his or her decision, the Minister will take into consideration the COSEWIC’s scientific assessment of the species, the information provided by Canadians obtained through initiatives like this consultation workbook, and the anticipated socio-economic impacts of adding the species to the SARA List. The Minister can offer three possible responses to the COSEWIC assessment.
- Accept the COSEWIC assessment and, as it advises, either add the species, reclassify it, or remove it from the SARA List
- Determine that the species should not be added to the SARA List
- Determine that there is insufficient information to make a decision, and refer the species back to COSEWIC for further consideration
How Does SARA Protect a Species?
Immediately upon a species being added to the SARA List as extirpated, endangered, or threatened, it receives protection under SARA. It is then an offence to:
- kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of these listed species
- possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual, part or derivative of these listed species
- damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of these listed species
The only exceptions to these rules occur when the government issues specific authorizations for: scientific research about the conservation of the species done by a qualified person; an activity that benefits the species or enhances its chances of survival in the wild; or an activity whose effect on the listed species is incidental. In all cases, the activity must not jeopardize survival or recovery.
For species listed as special concern, prohibitions do not apply.
What Happens Next?
After a species is listed, the recovery process begins in an effort to reduce the causes of a species’ decline and to improve the status of the species. There are two parts to the process for extirpated, endangered or threatened species: a recovery strategy, which identifies threats to the species and describes recovery objectives, and an action plan, which details the activities that must be carried out to promote the species’ recovery. The process for species of special concern requires a management plan, which lists appropriate conservation measures for a species and its habitat. All of these documents are developed through extensive consultation with scientists, community members, Aboriginal groups and community stakeholders. Then, the strategies and plans are published in the SARA Public Registry, and the public has 60 days to comment on them. Five years after the plans come into effect, the responsible government minister must report on their implementation and the progress that has been made in meeting the objectives they outlined.
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