On March 23, 2019 the Government of Canada Department of Environment announced an order amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Pursuant to section 27 of SARA and on the recommendation from the Minister of the Environment, the Governor in Council is proposing the Order Amending Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act to add or reclassify 32 species to Schedule 1 of SARA."(Canada Gazette)
Three of those species are sport fish that are present in Alberta:
- Bull Trout (Western Arctic Populations)
- Bull Trout (Saskatchewan - Nelson Rivers Populations)
- Rainbow Trout(Athabasca Populations)
The two Bull Trout species are identified on the list as 'Special Concern' i.e “a wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.” Species listed as species of special concern are not subject to the general prohibitions of SARA. However, there is a requirement under SARA for the preparation of a management plan, which must include measures for the conservation of the species that the minister considers appropriate.
The Rainbow Trout (Athabasca River Populations) is identified as 'Endangered' i.e. “a wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction”. Once an aquatic species is added to Schedule 1 of SARA as threatened, endangered or extirpated, the general prohibitions under sections 32 and 33 of SARA automatically apply, making it an offence to:
- kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a listed species;
- possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a listed species, or any part or derivative of a listed species; and
- damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a listed species.
Also, the preparation of a recovery strategy and of one or more action plans, and the identification and protection of critical habitat are required. Critical habitat is defined in SARA as “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species.”
Canadians have 30 days to appeal any part of the Order after which it is finalized.
Species are considered by the Dept. of the Environment for inclusion under SARA based on the recommendation of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), an independent body of scientific experts established under the Species at Risk Act .
It is anticipated that COSEWIC may soon be recommending the inclusion of Arctic Grayling to Schedule 1 of SARA. Arctic Grayling in Alberta are currently considered a species of 'Special Concern' by Alberta Environment and Parks.