Ottawa reluctant to protect commercially valuable aquatic species

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Ottawa reluctant to protect commercially valuable aquatic species

Despite the recommendations of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is reluctant to recommend special protection for commercially valuable aquatic species.

Federal authorities are very reluctant to list fish that have commercial value on the 'species at risk' list, even if they are endangered, says Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development , Jerry DeMarco, in a series of reports tabled Tuesday in the House of Commons.

In one of these papers titled Protecting Aquatic Species at Risk, Jerry DeMarco focused on the classification process for nine species of fish, two mussels and one species of sea turtle.

Of the nine fish species, five were of significant commercial value: Atlantic cod, sea-run rainbow trout, Okanagan chinook salmon, yellowmouth rockfish and Atlantic bluefin tuna. x27;Atlantic.

None of these species are currently listed as endangered by Ottawa while the other four fish species, the two mussels and the loggerhead sea turtle, which n 'have no commercial value, have all been recommended by Fisheries and Oceans for listing as endangered species.

During the audit, the commissioner first noted that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans takes an extremely long time to react when the national committee in charge of evaluating the protection of species declares that an aquatic creature or plant is in peril.

Moreover, these delays become interminable when it comes to protecting an aquatic species that represents a commercial value in the country, even if it is in danger, underlines Mr. DeMarco. In fact, Fisheries and Oceans policy would simply not recommend special protection for commercially valuable species.

Despite a moratorium on cod fishing in 1992, Fisheries and Oceans has not recommended that the species benefit from the protection of the Species at Risk Act.

The Commissioner cites as an example the Atlantic cod population of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was subject to a moratorium in 1992 due to commercial overfishing.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has since declared this cod to be endangered twice.

It was therefore up to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to decide whether Atlantic cod required special protection under the Species at Risk Act.

However, when of the first assessment of cod in Newfoundland in 2003, Fisheries and Oceans took three years to determine that it was ultimately not necessary to protect it. The ministry then allowed some of the inshore fishing and native harvesting to continue.

During a second cod population assessment, this time in 2010, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife once again sounded the alarm, reiterating that the species was endangered.

< p class="e-p">At the time of the audit conducted by Commissioner Jerry DeMarco in 2022, 12 years later, Fisheries and Oceans had still not completed the review of the assessment and recommendations of the committee.

Consult the Protection of Aquatic Species at Risk report from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development´╗┐

In a statement accompanying the report, Jerry DeMarco calls out a bias that works against the protection of commercially valuable species under the Species at Risk Act.

And Atlantic cod is just one example among many, according to the commissioner, who noted during his audit that Fisheries and Oceans had not yet completed the examination of half of the 230 aquatic species that the national committee has recommended it for an endangered species designation.

Recall that the Species at Risk Act came into force in 2004 in Canada.

According to Jerry DeMarco, in addition to With significant gaps in knowledge of endangered species, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans does not employ enough staff to enforce the species protection regulations it is responsible for putting in place.

More details will follow.

With information from La Presse canadienne

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