Canada to add three species to ‘at risk’ list

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The federal government of Canada is recommending the addition of three aquatic species to the list of those protected under the Species at Risk Act.

The Scotian Shelf population of the Northern bottlenose whale and the Interior Fraser River coho salmon would be added to the list as endangered and the channel darter would be listed as threatened, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a news release on Monday.

Species listed under the two-year-old law are eligible for additional conservation protection aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming extinct and allowing the government to aid in their recovery.

Fisheries is also proposing recommendations that three populations of Atlantic cod – Newfoundland and Labrador, Laurentian North and Maritimes – not be added to the list of species protected under the legislation.

The species are part of a larger group of 12 aquatic species that underwent an extended period of consultation for possible addition to the list, the department said.

The government said its consultations included feedback on the potential social and economic impacts of putting the species under the legislation.

“The government of Canada remains committed to the conservation and recovery of cod,” the news release said.

A controversial ban on fishing of northern and other cod stocks was imposed 10 years ago. The department said efforts to rebuild the stocks has begun.

“Listing Atlantic cod under (the act) would have high social and economic impacts on many Canadians in coastal communities,” the department said. “Listing cod could cost fishers and processors up to $82 million a year in gross revenue.”

Canadians will have until Jan. 10 to comment on the proposed additions before a final decision is made by the federal cabinet next April.

The department also recommended six species assessments be returned to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada for further information or consideration: Atlantic cod (Arctic population), cusk, bocaccio, harbour porpoise (northwest Atlantic population), Lake Winnipeg physa, and shortjaw cisco.

Coho salmon have been subject to protective measures since 1980, including a 1998 ban on fishermen retaining wild, non-hatchery raised coho.

Last June, the Fisheries Department adopted wild salmon policy that identified Interior Fraser River coho salmon as a unique “conservation unit” in need of protection.

Source: Canada East