Ecojustice Blog – Nature Posted on October 7, 2012 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Humpback whales, caribou and sturgeons – oh my!

Albert KoehlLawyer

What do the the Pacific Humpback Whale, Nechako White Sturgeon, Marbled Murrelet and Southern Mountain Caribou all have in common?

  • The federal government is years overdue in producing recovery strategies for these species, which are listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). When a species is listed under SARA, the government is required by law to produce recovery strategies that identify the critical habitat that species needs to survive and recover.
  • The habitats of these four species lie along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and shipping route. Loss of habitat is the key cause of decline for more than 80 per cent of Canada’s species at risk, and these four are no exception. A major pipeline = major problems for these animals.

This is an important story that needs to be told. The Species at Risk Act is the best tool we have in our arsenal for helping at-risk species survive and recover. The problem is that the federal government isn’t implementing the law to its fullest extent, meaning species like the Pacific humpback whales and the Nechako white sturgeon are being left to fend for themselves as major infrastructure projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline propose to irreparably alter the habitats they rely on. The Canadian Press reports:

“The Nechako white sturgeon is listed as an endangered species under the federal Species At Risk Act, a designation which is supposed to legally protect the sturgeon’s habitat so the species can recover.

The pipeline is planned to cross the Stuart and Endako rivers, where the highly imperilled species — there are estimated to be only 335 left — live.

But the recovery plan for the distinct sturgeon species has languished for seven years in draft form, never officially published and, therefore, never offering that protection. That recovery plan was due on Aug. 15, 2009.” [Full story]

Learn more about this lawsuit by checking out this case page and reading our backgrounder on the threat Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline poses to these iconic species.

Photo credit: Ursus Photography.

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