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Consultation Workbook for the Harbour Porpoise

Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Legal Listing of Aquatic Species

Consultation Workbook For the Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, Northwest Atlantic population, in eastern Canadian waters

Harbour Porpoise,

Objective of this Consultation

Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the Harbour Porpoise to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as a Species of Special Concern.  Your input on the impacts of adding this species to the List is important.

This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding the Harbour Porpoise to Schedule 1 of SARA as a Species of Special Concern (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).

At the end of this workbook there are a series of questions about SARA and the impacts of legally listing a species, as well as the role you or your community might eventually take in the recovery process.  You are encouraged to complete any or all of the questions on pages 17-20 and provide any additional comments you feel are relevant. They are meant to stimulate discussion.  You may have comments that do not fit with any of the questions and you are encouraged to provide those comments as well.  Your ideas, knowledge and advice are important to this process and will help the Government of Canada assess the impacts of adding Harbour Porpoise to the species at risk legal list.  Your ideas and views on participation in the management planning process will be used to refine our current approach.

[LC1]  For further information on how to submit your workbook please refer to page 16.

To make sure your comments are considered, please send in your submission by October 29, 2004.

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of species that receive protection under SARA. This Schedule 1 list is commonly referred to as the ‘SARA list’.  The existing SARA list contains the 233 species the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) had assessed and found to be at risk at the time of the reintroduction of SARA to the House of Commons on October 9th, 2002.

The degree of risk is categorized according to the terms Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern. A species is assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as Extirpated when it is no longer found in the wild in Canada but still exists elsewhere. It is Endangered if it is facing imminent extirpation or extinction. An assessment of Threatened means that the species is likely to become Endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction. COSEWIC assesses a species as Special Concern if it may become a Threatened or Endangered Species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) was created to ensure the survival of wildlife species and the protection of our natural heritage.  It requires Canada to provide for the recovery of species at risk due to human activity, and to manage species of Special Concern to make sure they do not become Endangered or Threatened.  It provides for the protection not only of species, but also of their residences and critical habitat once identified.

Environment Canada is responsible for implementing SARA as a whole, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada has responsibility for aquatic species at risk.  No single organisation [H2]  or entity can be responsible on its own for ensuring the survival of species.  The federal, provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, non-governmental organisations, landowners, resource users and individuals across Canada must all work together.  The Act was designed to encourage such cooperation.

The following section discusses some key issues related to SARA.  More about the Act can be found at the Species at Risk website: http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca[LC3] 

The Role of COSEWIC

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is the body designated to assess the status of wildlife species in Canada.  Based on the information found in a status report, COSEWIC classifies the species as being Extinct, Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, of Special Concern, Data Deficient, or Not at Risk (the glossary at the end of this document explains these categories).  COSEWIC’s Species Specialist Subcommittees (SSC) provide expertise on particular groups of plants and animals and make recommendations as to the appropriate status designation of a species to the entire Committee.

Members of COSEWIC do not formally represent the agency, group, or region from which they are drawn.  They are appointed on the basis of their expertise, and will, to the best of their ability, provide independent and impartial scientific advice and recommendations.

COSEWIC along with the SSC’s assesses the biological status of a species using the best available information.  It reviews research, considers community and Aboriginal traditional knowledge, and applies strict assessment criteria based on those developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  COSEWIC sends its assessment of the species to the Minister of the Environment to initiate the legal listing process.

More information about COSEWIC can be found on its website: http://www.cosewic.gc.ca

Legal Listing – What does this mean?

Once a species is recognized as being “at risk” by COSEWIC, the first step in ensuring its safety is to undertake a legal listing process for the species. A species is not protected under SARA unless it is legally listed.

When COSEWIC releases their report, the federal government will have nine months to do one of the following:

  • Accept the assessment and add the species to the List;
  • Decide not to add the species to the List; or
  • Refer the current assessment back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

The decision on whether to add the species to the list takes into account the COSEWIC assessment and other factors such as potential social and economic impacts of the listing. If the government takes no action, the species will be legally listed as assessed by COSEWIC.

When species are assessed through the normal regulatory process, a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) is required. In preparing the RIAS, the federal government must consult about the species with affected stakeholders and undertake a socio-economic analysis on impacts to stakeholders should the species be added to the legal list.

Significance of the addition of a species to the SARA list

  The protection that comes into effect following the addition of a species to the SARA list depends upon the degree of risk assigned to that species.

Protection for listed Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species

Under the Act, prohibitions protect individuals of Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species. These prohibitions make it an offence to kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a species listed as Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened, or to damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of an Endangered or a Threatened species. The Act also makes it an offence to possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a species that is Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened or a part or derivative of one.  These prohibitions will come into force for the SARA listed species on June 1st, 2004.

Prohibitions apply to federal lands, Canada’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf areas, migratory birds, and aquatic species. In certain cases, prohibitions may apply to provincial and territorial lands.

Protection for Listed Species of Special Concern

The prohibitions of SARA for species listed as Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened will not apply to species of Special Concern; however any existing protections and prohibitions, such as those authorized by the Migratory Birds Convention Act or the Canada National Parks Act, continue to be in force.

Management Plans for Species of Special Concern

For species of Special Concern, such as the Harbour Porpoise, management plans will be prepared and made available on the Public Registry within five years of their addition to the SARA list, allowing for public review and comment.  Management plans will include appropriate conservation measures for the species and for its habitat.

Management plans will be prepared in cooperation with aboriginal organizations, responsible jurisdictions, and relevant management boards directly affected by them.  Stakeholders affected by the management plan will also be consulted.

Public Registry

The SARA Public Registry is a comprehensive source of information relating to matters under the Act and allows for timely access to public documents relating to the admini­stration of SARA.  It is a key instrument in fulfilling the government’s com­mit­ment to encourage public participation in environmental decision-making.  The Public Registry can be accessed through the web at: http:www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

The Registry will include documents including regulations, orders, agreements, guide­lines, standards, and codes of practice.  In addition, it will provide species assess­ments and status reports, recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans for the recovery of wildlife species.

Anyone may provide written comments on a proposed recovery strategy, action plan or management plan for a wildlife species.  The general public has 60 days after the strategy or plan is posted on the Registry to provide feedback.


 [LC1]Is this  the link that will be used? Or is it here because this is based on  the Pacific Region work book?

 [LC3]Should we not be referring people to the SARA registry? I thought it was the one-stop site we would be using for communicating with the public.

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