Species at Risk: Legislation & Current Status
Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) came into effect in 2003. Although weaker than the US Endangered Species Act, it is an important first step. The legislation ensures that species are assessed under a scientific process that operates at arm's length from the federal government. It also requires the development of recovery action plans for species that are found to be most at risk, and recognizes the essential role of Aboriginal peoples in the conservation of wildlife by requiring the establishment of a National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk. For more on Canada's legislation on species at risk.
British Columbia does not have endangered species legislation.
As of spring 2007:
- Canada-wide: the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed 552 species as either extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern (up from 391 in May 2002).
- British Columbia: the BC Conservation Data Centre lists 45 marine and estuarine species as red-listed (threatened, extirpated or endangered), and 71 as blue-listed (of special concern).
- Our region: 63 marine species of concern are listed by one or more jurisdictions in the Puget Sound / Georgia Basin ecosystem.
Reasons vary, but include accumulation of toxic chemicals and/or heavy metals (particularly for animals at the top of the food chain), declining food supply, and loss of critical habitat. Clearly, many species are at risk in our region, and strong action is needed to protect them.
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