Government of Canada takes important new steps to protect aquatic species under the Species at Risk Act

News release

August 15, 2019        Ottawa, Ontario       Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The protection and conservation of our natural environment and wildlife is core to our Canadian identity. The Government of Canada is committed to working with all Canadians to protect and restore our critically important biodiversity.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the Government of Canada has, consistent with evidence-based scientific advice, added or reclassified 31 aquatic animals under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). These species include 23 freshwater fish and eight molluscs.   

This important action comes after a comprehensive 30-day public comment period that ended in April, 2019. Based on feedback from communities and stakeholders across the country, as well as information received with respect to broader socio-economic and environmental implications, the Government of Canada is proceeding with 31 of the 32 reclassifications and additions proposed. A listing decision for the Rocky Mountain Ridged Mussel, a freshwater mussel found in the Okanagan Region of British Columbia, will be made at a future time following further analysis and public engagement on this animal.

Decisions to protect species under SARA are based on many considerations including assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and other scientific advice, consultations with Canadians, Indigenous communities, and industry, as well as an evaluation of the potential socio-economic impacts on Canadians.

List of Species:

  • Twenty-two species will be added to Schedule 1 of SARA:
    • Seven as endangered:
      Fish: Rainbow Trout (Athabasca River), Silver Chub (Great Lakes – Upper St. Lawrence), Channel Darter (Lake Erie), and Channel Darter (Lake Ontario).
      Molluscs: Fawnsfoot, Hickorynut, and Lilliput.
    • Six as threatened:
      Fish: Rainbow Smelt (Lake Utopia large-bodied), Silver Shiner, Plains Minnow, Bull Trout (Saskatchewan - Nelson Rivers), and Black Redhorse.
      Mollusc: Threehorn Wartyback
    • Nine as special concern:
      Fish: Lake Sturgeon (Southern Hudson Bay - James Bay), Silver Lamprey (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence), Bull Trout (Western Arctic), Bull Trout (South Coast British Columbia), Cutlip Minnow, Unarmoured Threespine Stickleback, Giant Threespine Stickleback, Northern Sunfish (Great Lakes – Upper St. Lawrence) and Channel Darter (St. Lawrence).
  • Nine species will be reclassified:
    • Two species are proposed for reclassification as endangered:
      Fish: Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River) and Spotted Gar.
    • Four species are being proposed for reclassification as threatened:
      Fish: Pugnose Minnow, Pugnose Shiner, and Salish Sucker.
      Mollusc:  Mapleleaf (Saskatchewan-Nelson River)
    • Three species are being proposed for reclassification as special concern:
      Molluscs: Mapleleaf (Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence), Rainbow, and Eastern Pondmussel.


“The Government of Canada is actively engaged in the protection of at-risk aquatic species. Based on scientific advice and in keeping with the concerns of communities across the country, we are protecting more aquatic species under the Species at Risk Act. By working directly with Canadians, we are coming together to help protect and conserve species at risk, as well as the health of our rich and diverse aquatic environment.”

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson

Quick facts

  •  Further information on the addition and reclassification of these aquatic species under SARA, can be found in the Canada Gazette, Part II.  Publication of this information is anticipated on August 21, 2019. A direct link to the publication is found below in the Associated Links section.

  • The Government of Canada introduced the Species at Risk Act in 2002 to provide a legal framework for wildlife species management, protection and recovery. 

  • Aquatic species that are listed under SARA will benefit, as applicable to their risk status, from the protections and required management and recovery planning that the Act provides. All Canadians are encouraged to help preserve these species.

  •  COSEWIC is an independent committee that identifies and designates species at risk and is made up of wildlife experts and scientists from federal, provincial and territorial governments, universities, and non-government organizations.

  • Once a species is listed as threatened or endangered under the Species at Risk Act, a recovery strategy will be developed, followed by one or more action plans. For species of special concern, management plans will be developed. 

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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