Backgrounder:  Protecting Aquatic Species at Risk


Protecting Canada’s aquatic species at risk is a shared responsibility. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) works with the provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, and Canadians in implementing the Species at Risk Act. Collaboration and information sharing are critical to support species listing recommendations and recovery planning.

The Species at Risk Act represents only one of several legislative tools DFO uses to protect aquatic species at risk. Protections are also provided under the Fisheries Act, the Oceans Act, the Canada National Parks Act, as well as a number of provincial, territorial and municipal legislative tools and other non-legislative tools.‎

For example, under the Fisheries Act, the department is obligated to implement measures to maintain all major fish stocks at or above the level necessary for the sustainability of the stock. To do so, DFO must develop rebuilding plans for major stocks that have fallen to or below their limit reference point.

Scientific information and analysis form the basis of decisions to list a species under the Species at Risk Act. We must also consider the potential impacts to Canadians and their communities and are informed by extensive consultations with Indigenous groups, Wildlife Management Boards, communities, industry and the public.

It takes time to complete the various required processes and to analyse all the appropriate information in order to identify an outcome that will be the most beneficial for the protection of the species and for Canadians. DFO is committed to improving the process to reduce delays so that decisions by the Governor in Council to list aquatic species at risk can be made more quickly.

DFO also supports on-the-ground community action to help vulnerable aquatic species. Through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR), over $84 million is going towards supporting stewardship projects that benefit aquatic species at risk across Canada. These projects help the recovery of species by focusing on priority places, species and threats. Additional support is also provided through the Habitat Stewardship Program for Aquatic Species at Risk and the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk, where partners work to protect and recover aquatic species in their communities. DFO values the work done through these programs and appreciates the public’s commitment to helping support biodiversity.

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