The federal government is biased against listing commercially worthwhile fish as species in danger and needing protection, environment commissioner Jerry DeMarco said in a recent audit published on Tuesday.

The audit of Canada’s efforts to guard aquatic species in danger was one in every of six recent environmental reports tabled within the House of Commons.

It found Fisheries and Oceans Canada was very slow to act when the national committee that’s answerable for assessing whether species need protection says a specific aquatic creature or plant is in peril.

And when that assessment pertains to a fish with significant business value, the department’s default appears to be against listing the fish as needing special protection.

That features the Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod.

Overfishing led to a moratorium on business fishing of Newfoundland cod in 1992, and twice since then the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed it as being “endangered,” meaning it faces imminent danger of going extinct.

Once that assessment is made, Fisheries and Oceans Canada must review the assessment and judge whether to list the species for special protection under the Species at Risk Act. Listing the species within the act as endangered would prevent it from being killed, harmed, harassed or captured.

The primary assessment on Newfoundland cod got here in 2003, and it took three years for Fisheries and Oceans to review the finding. In 2006, the federal department decided against adding it to the Species at Risk Act list, and allowed some inshore fishing and Indigenous harvesting to proceed.

In 2010, the committee assessed the Newfoundland cod as endangered a second time. Twelve years later, Fisheries and Oceans still has not finished a review to find out what to do with that assessment.

DeMarco’s audit checked out nine fish, two mussels and a sea turtle that the endangered wildlife committee assessed as needing protection.

Five of the fish were marine species with significant business value, and in all five of those cases, the department opted against listing the fish as a species in danger.

That features Newfoundland cod, steelhead trout, the Okanagan population of chinook salmon, yellowmouth rockfish, and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The opposite 4 fish, each mussels and the loggerhead sea turtle were deemed to haven’t any significant business value, and all seven were really helpful to be listed as species in danger by Fisheries and Oceans.

DeMarco also found it took the department far too long to conduct its own reviews.

He said Fisheries and Oceans hasn’t finished its review for half the 230 aquatic species that the wildlife committee really helpful for an at-risk designation for the reason that Species at Risk Act took effect in 2004.

Moreover, the department was found to have big gaps in what it knows about species that need protection, and never enough staff to implement protections once they are put in place.

“A bias against protecting species of business value under the Species at Risk Act, significant delays in listing species for defense, gaps in knowledge about species, and limited enforcement capability all have opposed effects on ecosystems and communities,” DeMarco said in a written statement.

The commissioner’s fall audits also checked out policies to administer low- and intermediate-risk radioactive waste, which accounts for 99.5 per cent of all radioactive waste in Canada.

DeMarco said Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and Atomic Energy of Canada were doing a superb job managing the waste.


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