Federal government falling short protecting aquatic species: report | CBC News

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada is falling short when it comes to protecting endangered aquatic species, a new report tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday said.

The 2022 Fall Reports from Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Jerry DeMarco found inadequate staffing, knowledge gaps and a bias against species of commercial value at 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 knowledge about species and limited enforcement capacity all have adverse effects on ecosystems and communities,” DeMarco said in a news release.

The report said Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not have enough staff to enforce laws aimed at protecting at-risk species.


The audit report also took Fisheries and Oceans Canada to task for delays in listing a species as endangered. It found the department was taking an average of over three-and-a-half years to list a species as at-risk — and in some cases much longer. 

Furthermore, the report said the department’s advice on whether to consider a species endangered was often not based on science or evidence.

“The department’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 government departments, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, aren’t providing enough information on how they plan to protect Canadian wildlife.

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

“Reporting is important, but results are what really matter. Unfortunately, on that score, the picture is not a positive one.”

Over the past eight years, DeMarco said, results have stalled “well below” the target for recovery of at-risk species. 

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

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