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Species at risk delay litigation

Mar 03, 2014 12:08 PM

Status: Victory

We're challenging the federal government to start living up to its own law and protect Canada's species at risk.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) is one of Canada’s key federal environmental laws. Its passage into law in 2002 represented an important step forward in protecting Canada’s endangered wildlife and the habitat they need to survive. The Act came into full effect in 2004. 

On paper, SARA is a good law that — if implemented to its fullest extent — has to potential to help endangered species survive and and recover. In practice though, the federal government's implementation efforts have been characterized by chronic delays in producing recovery strategies, identifying critical habitat and protecting that habitation once it has been identified.  
 
Meanwhile, drastic changes to important Canadian environmental laws, like the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, have tipped the scales even more in favour of industry.
 
The result? Species and habitat protection falling by the wayside as major industrial projects, like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, speed through regulatory review without a full understanding of how they might impact long-term health of the forests, rivers and oceans wildlife need to survive. 
 
This litigation challenged the federal government’s unlawful delays in producing recovery strategies for four species that would be affected by the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline: Pacific humpback whales, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou. 

In response to the lawsuit, the federal government has issued proposed recovery strategies for the white sturgeon, murrelet and caribou, and a final recovery strategy for the humpback whales. And that's not all.
 
In February 2014, the Federal Court declared that the Minister of Environment and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans acted unlawfully in delaying for several years the production of  recovery strategies for four at-risk species threatened by industrial development, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.
 
The Court's judgement isn't just a big win for the four species at issue in the case, but a victory for the rest of Canada’s wildlife struggling to survive. Thanks to your support, the pressure’s now on the federal government to step up and find a way to produce meaningful recovery strategies for the 160+ species that still need them.
 
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Photo credit: Ursus Photograhy

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