Species at Risk Act annual report for 2016: chapter 10

10 Consultation and governance

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10.1 Public consultation on SARA policies

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) published a suite of draft policies on the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for public consultation. The policies were posted for comment on the Species at Risk Public Registry for a period of 60 days. The consultation period was further extended to March 31, 2017 to ensure that the public and key stakeholders had sufficient opportunity to examine the draft policies and provide feedback. The draft policies include:

  • Policy on critical habitat protection on non-federal lands
  • Policy on protecting critical habitat with conservation agreements under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act
  • Policy on survival and recovery
  • Policy regarding the Iidentification of anthropogenic structures as critical habitat under the federal Species at Risk Act
  • Approach to the identification of critical habitat under the Species at Risk Act when habitat loss and degradation is not believed to be a significant threat to the survival or recovery of the species
  • Species at Risk Act permitting policy; and
  • Listing policy for terrestrial species at risk

ECCC received over 80 comments from representatives from provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, industry, Indigenous groups, and the public.

10.2 Species at Risk Advisory Committee

The Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC) is a multi-stakeholder advisory body established under section 9(1) of SARA to advise the Minister on the administration of the Act. The Committee last met in November 2013.

In October, 2016, ECCC posted a Notice of Opportunity on the Ministerial appointments website and the species at risk public registry to solicit applications for a new membership to SARAC. ECCC received 45 applications from a broad range of candidates representing non-governmental organizations, industry, business, academia, agricultural and Indigenous organizations. ECCC short-listed 28 representatives to sit on the newly-established Committee. SARAC will be meeting in the spring of 2017.

10.3 Indigenous groups and SARA

SARA recognizes that the role of Indigenous peoples in the conservation of wildlife is essential and that Indigenous peoples possess unique traditional knowledge concerning wildlife species. The National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR), composed of 6 representatives of Indigenous peoples of Canada, selected by the Minister based on recommendations from Indigenous organizations that the Minister considers appropriate, was created under section 8.1 of SARA to advise the Minister of Environment on the administration of the Act and to provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC).

In 2016, NACOSAR held meetings and teleconferences to advance their work in providing advice on socio-economic analysis and Indigenous community engagement in recovery planning and implementation. NACOSAR held two meetings: one with local First Nation communities affected by SARA in British Columbia, another in Ottawa with local First Nations from Alberta and Ontario, as well with representatives from National Indigenous Organizations to discuss the administration of SARA and receive feedback on potential recommendations to the Minister. NACOSAR also held face-to-face discussions with the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Upon completion of their terms in April 2016, NACOSAR presented recommendations on the administration of the Act to the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Also in 2016, NACOSAR began a process to review its mandate and collaborate on the best way to conduct its operations.

10.3.1 Engagement with indigenous groups

ECCC met with Indigenous organizations to discuss conservation and stewardship and expressed mutual interests in collaborating on species at risk conservation on reserve lands in 2016. Future collaboration could include focus on engagement capacity, strengthening the SARA consultation process, and further developing collaborative mechanisms for species at risk conservation on reserve lands.                

The ECCC and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Coordinating Committee was initiated in 2016, whose purpose is to facilitate a coordinated approach to species at risk conservation on reserve lands by aligning departmental activities related to SARA implementation and land use planning in a manner that respects Indigenous groups’ conservation and development priorities.

10.3.2 Bilateral administrative agreements

The federal government has bilateral administrative agreements on species at risk with individual provinces and territories. The agreements set out shared objectives, as well as commitments for how governments will cooperate on species at risk initiatives. Agreements are in place with the governments of Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan, and an agreement with the government of British Columbia is in the process of being renewed. The agreement with Saskatchewan is set to expire in the fall of 2017, and at the time of this publication, there are no plans to renew the agreement. There is also a Memorandum of Understanding between the federal government and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board that covers the listing process for species at risk in Nunavut, and discussions are being held to develop a similar MOU that covers recovery planning.

10.3.3 The National General Status Working Group

The National General Status Working Group (NGSWG) is composed of representatives from each of the Canadian provinces and territories, and of the federal government. Members of the working group are responsible for completing the general status assessments of species in their jurisdictions, which the group then uses to produce the Wild Species – The General Status of Species in Canada reports. ECCC is co-chair and coordinator of the NGSWG; the other co-chair in 2016 was the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The NGSWG was established by the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC) in order to meet the commitment of monitoring, assessing, and reporting regularly on the status of all wild species, as required under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. The NGSWG is responsible to the CWDC and ultimately to the CESCC.

10.4 Species at risk registry

The online Species at risk public registry fulfills the requirement under SARA for the Minister of the Environment to establish a public registry to facilitate access to SARA-related documents. The registry is an important tool for engaging and informing Canadians on species at risk issues. In addition to providing access to documents and information related to SARA, it provides a forum for Canadians to submit comments on SARA-related documents.

Section 123 of SARA identifies the following documents that must be published on the registry:

  • regulations and orders made under the Act
  • agreements entered into under section 10 of the Act
  • Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)'s criteria for the classification of wildlife species
  • status reports on wildlife species that COSEWIC has prepared or has received with an application
  • the List of wildlife species at risk
  • codes of practice, national standards or guidelines established under the Act
  • agreements and reports filed under section 111 or subsection 113(2) of the Act, or notices that these have been filed in court and are available to the public; and
  • all reports made under sections 126 and 128 of the Act.

Other documents prepared in response to the requirements of SARA include recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and reports on the progress of recovery strategy implementation, which are also posted on the Species at risk public registry.

In 2016, 570 documents were published on the registry. These documents include SARA and COSEWIC annual reports; consultation documents; COSEWIC status reports and status appraisal summaries; ministerial response statements; permit explanations; and a draft SARA policy suite. In addition, DFO published reports on the progress of recovery strategy implementation for 14 aquatic species.

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