Environment Commissioner warns Canada fails to protect commercially valuable fish

Environmental Commissioner Jerry DeMarco said in a new audit released Tuesday that the federal government is biased against listing commercially valuable fish as endangered and in need of protection.

An audit of Canada’s efforts to protect endangered aquatic life is one of six new environmental reports presented to the House of Representatives.

It turns out that the Canadian Fisheries and Ocean Service was very slow to respond when the national commission responsible for assessing whether a species needs protection said that certain aquatic organisms or plants were at risk. I was.

And when that assessment relates to a fish of significant commercial value, the department’s default seems to be against listing that fish as needing special protection.

This includes Newfoundland and Labrador populations of Atlantic cod.

Commercial fishing for Newfoundland cod was suspended in 1992 due to overfishing, and twice since then Canada’s Commission on Endangered Wildlife Status has classified the species as endangered, meaning endangered. categorized as an endangered species.”

Once that assessment has been made, the Canadian Fisheries and Ocean Service must review the assessment and decide whether the species should be listed for special protection under the Endangered Species Act. Designating a species as endangered prevents it from being killed, harmed, harassed or captured.

The first assessment of Newfoundland cod was made in 2003 and it took three years for the fisheries and oceans to review the findings. In 2006, the federal ministry decided not to add the species to the endangered species list, allowing some coastal fisheries and indigenous harvesting to continue.

In 2010, the commission assessed Newfoundland cod as endangered again. Twelve years later, the fisheries and oceans are still under review to decide what to do with their ratings.

DeMarco’s audit examined nine fish, two mussels and one sea turtle that the Wildlife and Endangered Commission assessed as needing protection. Five of the fish were marine species of significant commercial value, and in all five of these cases the department did not choose to list the fish as an endangered species.

This includes Newfoundland cod, steelhead trout, Okanagan populations of Chinook salmon, yellowmouth rockfish, and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The remaining four fish, both mussels and loggerhead turtles, were deemed of no significant commercial value, and all seven were recommended to be listed as species endangered by fishing and the ocean.

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

He said the fisheries and oceans have not finished assessing half of the 230 aquatic species that the Wildlife Commission has recommended for endangered designation since the Endangered Species Act went into effect in 2004. Stated.

In addition, we found that there were significant gaps in knowledge about the species in need of protection, and that there were not enough staff to implement protection when it did.

“Prejudices against the protection of species of commercial value under the Endangered Species Act, long delays in listing species for protection, gaps in knowledge about species, and limited enforcement capacity are all factors that affect ecosystems and It will have a negative impact on the community,” DeMarco said in a statement. .

The Commissioner’s fall audit also examined policies for managing low- and medium-risk radioactive waste, which comprise 99.5% of all radioactive waste in Canada.

DeMarco said the Natural Resources Agency of Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the Canadian Nuclear Power Plants manage their waste well.

Mia Rabson

canadian press