Authorities responsible for Species at Risk Act
This section provides information on the roles and responsibilities of the key departments, committees, and councils tasked with carrying out activities under the Act. In general, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is responsible for the overall administration, except when the Act gives responsibility to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
Department of Environment and Climate Change
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is responsible for the overall coordination of the federal species at risk strategy, including the implementation of federal activities in support of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada (the Accord), the administration of the Habitat Stewardship Program for species at risk, and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is also responsible for the protection and recovery of migratory birds and species at risk on federal lands other than those under the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or those individuals under the responsibility of Parks Canada Agency. Under the Accord, it is understood that the provinces and territories will undertake actions and enforce prohibitions for the conservation of species at risk under their jurisdiction.
In addition, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is responsible for the initiation and facilitation of multi-jurisdictional recovery teams, and for coordinating the development of recovery strategies for species requiring the involvement of more than one jurisdiction. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change will attempt to enter into agreements with provinces and territories for them to develop recovery strategies for species under their management responsibility.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the protection and recovery of aquatic species at risk under federal jurisdiction, other than individuals under the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the case of individuals found on National Wildlife Areas, and Parks Canada Agency.
The Minister is responsible for implementing the necessary conservation and protection measures under the Species at Risk Act for aquatic species on the legal protection list. Aquatic species to be protected includes fish or marine plant species defined as such under the federal Fisheries Act, and those which have been assessed against COSEWIC's classification criteria.
The Minister will work closely with both the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Parks Canada Agency, to ensure common and consistent approaches within the federal government to protecting species at risk.
Parks Canada Agency is responsible for the development of recovery strategies for those species that occur in Canada primarily in national parks, national historic sites and other federal protected heritage areas under the authority of the Minister. The Minister is also responsible for the management and recovery of species found in national parks and lands administered by the Minister.
The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) consists of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Ministers of the provincial / territorial governments who are responsible for the conservation and management of a wildlife species in that province or territory. The role of CESCC is to provide general direction on the activities of COSEWIC; coordinate the activities of the various governments represented on the Council relating to the protection of species at risk; and seek and consider advice and recommendations from the National Aboriginal Council on species at risk.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) provides advice to government on the status of wildlife species and was established for the first time as a legal entity under the Species at Risk Act. COSEWIC is composed of qualified wildlife experts drawn from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, wildlife management boards, Aboriginal groups, universities, museums, national non-governmental organizations and others with expertise in the conservation of wildlife species in Canada. Members are appointed by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change after consultation with the Council (CESCC) and appropriate experts.
COSEWIC operates at arm's length from government in an open and transparent process, maintaining impartial scientific and expert judgement in its assessment of wildlife species. The role of COSEWIC is to assess and classify the status of wildlife species using the best available information on the biological status of a species, including scientific knowledge, community knowledge, and Aboriginal traditional knowledge. COSEWIC classifies wildlife species and reports to the CESCC.
The National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR) is an advisory council comprised of six representatives of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada selected by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change based upon recommendations from Aboriginal organizations that the Minister considers appropriate. The role of the Council is to advise the Minister on the Administration of the Act and provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) under section 8.1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
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