Delays, knowledge gaps, and a bureaucratic approach undermine the government’s ability to protect aquatic species at risk
Ottawa, 4 October 2022—A report tabled today in the House of Commons from Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Jerry V. DeMarco found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s approach to protecting aquatic species assessed as being at risk under the Species at Risk Act contributed to significant listing delays and decisions not to list species with commercial value. The department also had knowledge gaps for some species that directly affected the actions needed to protect them.
The audit found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada had yet to provide listing advice for half of the species assessed as being at risk since the act came fully into force in 2004, and that the analysis it used was at times unclear or insufficient. Furthermore, the department did not have enough staff to enforce compliance with the Species at Risk Act and the Fisheries Act—the 2 main pieces of legislation aimed at conserving and protecting biodiversity—especially in the region that manages most of the freshwater species listed under the Species at Risk Act.
“A bias against protecting species of commercial value under the Species at Risk Act, significant delays in listing species for protection, gaps in knowledge about species, and limited enforcement capacity all have adverse effects on ecosystems and communities,” said Mr. DeMarco.
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The 2022 Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Report 7—Protecting Aquatic Species at Risk is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
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