Federal government failing to protect aquatic species: report

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is failing to protect endangered aquatic species, according to a new report tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Fall 2022 reports by Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Jerry DeMarco revealed understaffing, knowledge gaps and a bias against commercially valuable species within the department.

“A bias against protecting species of commercial value under the Species at Risk Act, significant delays in listing species for protection, gaps in species knowledge and limited enforcement capacity all have detrimental effects on ecosystems and communities, » DeMarco said in a press release.

The report says Fisheries and Oceans Canada does not have enough staff to enforce laws to protect species at risk.

The audit report also criticized Fisheries and Oceans Canada for delaying listing an endangered species. He revealed that the department takes on average more than three and a half years to list a species at risk – and in some cases much longer.

Further, the report says the ministry’s advice on whether to consider a species endangered was often not based on science or evidence.

« The ministry’s listing advice was not clearly or sufficiently based on scientific information and other supporting assessments, » the report said.

More information needed on wildlife protection plans

In another audit released Tuesday, DeMarco said several departments, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, are not providing enough information on how they plan to protect Canadian wildlife.

“Measurable actions and clear reporting on progress are important in telling Parliament and Canadians whether Canada is meeting its biodiversity commitments,” DeMarco said in a news release.

« Reports are important, but results are what really matters. Unfortunately, in this regard, the picture is not positive. »

Over the past eight years, DeMarco said, results have stagnated « well below » the species-at-risk recovery goal.

Another commissioner’s report gave the government high marks for its management of radioactive waste in Canada.


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