A PUBLIC CONSULTATION PAPER
AN ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
PROVINCE OF NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Kevin Aylward, Minister
Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why We are Concerned
Past and Present Endangered Species Efforts
The Need for Endangered Species Legislation
A National Accord and Our Commitment to Legislation
Proposed Provisions of the Newfoundland Endangered Species Act
Where will it apply
To whom will it apply
Endangered Species Review Committee
Land Management Agreements
Recovery Plans and Statements
"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first
material expression destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but
when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and
another earth must pass before such a one can be again."
William Beebe wrote this eulogy almost 100 years ago for the Great Auk, a
large flightless seabird which became extirpated in Newfoundland in the early 1800's with
the last pair killed off Iceland in 1844. Beebe captured eloquently the finality of
extinction. Unfortunately the list of extinct species does not end with the Great Auk. The
Labrador Duck, Newfoundland Wolf, Eelgrass Limpet and possibly the Sea Mink are also
creatures which once called Newfoundland and Labrador home but now are only to be found in
the pages of history books. Extinction has been part of a natural process since life began
on this planet. However the rate of extinction has significantly accelerated in recent
times with scientists now calculating extinction rates 1,000 to 10,000 times that which
would be considered natural. In almost all cases the causes of extinction, particularly in
the past several hundred years can be traced back to the actions of one organism, the
human species, a fact unparalleled in natural history. Nothing now can be done for these
extinct species but something can be done for those species still with us but are at risk
of extinction because of our actions. Today we know that plants and animals such as the
Newfoundland (Pine) Marten, Wolverine, Harlequin Duck, Piping Plover, Peregrine Falcon and
Longs Braya are endangered and require human intervention and protection if they are to
survive. We also know that there are probably many other animals and plants which are at
risk but have not yet had their status evaluated.
WHY WE ARE CONCERNED
Most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians agree that endangered species must
be protected. There are a number of reasons people put forward for supporting protection.
We may see the need to maintain species because of benefits to ourselves, we may support
the right for all species to exist, we may be concerned with the loss of biodiversity, we
may feel a sense of responsibility or we may fear the consequences to the system which
supports us all by the loss of even one component of that system. Endangered species often
are indicators of an ecosystem=s health. To save
and protect the species will often result in the protection of the system as a whole and
all those creatures which are dependent upon it.
PAST AND PRESENT ENDANGERED SPECIES CONSERVATION EFFORTS
The Province has been an active participant in endangered species
conservation for the past number of years. We have supported the preparation of status
reports and recovery plans for species found in this Province. Currently we sit on
Recovery Teams for the Wolverine, Piping Plover, Newfoundland Marten, Harlequin Duck,
Peregrine Falcon and Eskimo Curlew. We actively participate in national organizations such
as the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the Recovery
of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) Committee. We also provide input on endangered
species issues on the international scene by being involved with the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). We have been
implementing recovery actions as our resources permit. A Reserve has been established to
protect nesting Piping Plovers on Big Barasway beach near Burgeo. Selected areas have been
closed to snaring and trapping to protect the endangered Newfoundland Marten and a captive
breeding facility has also been established for this species. We monitor Peregrine Falcon
populations in Labrador and we are working with Quebec on the recovery of the Wolverine.
THE NEED FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES LEGISLATION
There are significant impediments to our ability to adequately protect
endangered species. First, there are many species which have no legal protection of any
kind such as plants. Second, for those species which do have some form of legal protection
we find that the protection is often insufficient. Third, habitat which is crucial for
protection and recovery of any endangered species can be protected to a degree under
certain Acts and Regulations but not necessarily in a manner which might meet all the
needs and requirements for the protection and recovery of that species.
A NATIONAL ACCORD AND OUR COMMITMENT TO LEGISLATION
For the past 2 years provinces, territories and the Federal Government
have been working towards a national approach for the conservation of species at risk. One
of the goals has been to insure that all endangered species in Canada will receive a
minimum level of protection. In the fall of 1996, the Province signed the National
Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Among the provisions of the Accord
is an agreement to "establish complementary
legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk
throughout Canada." As well the Accord identifies certain minimum provisions which
legislation should include. By signing the Accord, Newfoundland has agreed to the
development and implementation of endangered species legislation. It is therefore
Government's intention to proceed with
endangered species legislation at the earliest possible convenience. Provincial
legislation will complement Federal legislation currently being developed.
Prior to bringing a Newfoundland Endangered Species Bill before the
House of Assembly, Government would like to have the views and opinions of private
citizens, groups, organizations and others as to what they think such a Bill should
contain. Opinions will be gathered in 2 ways. First, anyone can submit comments in writing
to the Endangered Species Biologist. A group of Department officials have been
charged with the responsibility of developing the recommended provisions and sections of
our endangered species legislation and then working with Legislative Counsel in the
drafting of the Act. Comments should be received no later than February 13, 1998. You can
address your comments and opinions to:
Mr. Joe Brazil, Endangered Species Biologist
Inland Fish and Wildlife Division
Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods
P.O. Box, 8700, St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Telephone: (709) 729-3773
Fax: (709) 729-4989
Second, a series of public consultation sessions chaired by staff of the Department of
Forest Resources and Agrifoods will be announced. The time, date and location of each
session will be publicly advertised. Written briefs can be presented at this time and
comments will be recorded. The Committee will consider all of the input it receives prior
to the final drafting of the Bill.
PROPOSED PROVISIONS OF A NEWFOUNDLAND ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
Government has already given careful consideration as to what it might
want to see included in endangered species legislation. A brief description of the main
provisions being suggested by Government follow and should help to lead the discussion.
Throughout the Act every effort will be made to insure each step in the process is
transparent. Status reports, recovery plans, land management agreements, reports and
decisions will all be public information. There will also be allowance for public input
prior to final status designations or decisions being made.
Application. The Act will apply to all species and
ecosystems listed as endangered, threatened, vulnerable or extirpated. Only native species
or those species which have been in the province for at least 50 years and have made it
here without human intervention will be considered.
Where will it apply. The Act will apply on provincial and
To whom will it apply. It will apply to all persons,
government departments, crown corporations, municipalities and private enterprises.
Endangered Species Scientific Review Committee (ESSRC). A
Committee will be established to oversee the preparation and review of status reports. The
Committee will make status recommendations to the responsible Minister. The Committee will
be composed of respected scientists and wildlife managers who will represent the variety
of life found in the province. The Committee will have a majority of members from outside
government. In addition to assigning species status the Committee will have a number of
other responsibilities including; the development of criteria for status reports,
establishing a list of candidate species, commissioning reports and preparing an annual
report on the Committee's work.
Listing process. A Provincial list of designated species
will be appended to the regulations. Species will be listed 2 ways. Species listed by the
national organization COSEWIC, and whose range is wholly or in part in this province will
automatically be listed on the provincial list. Species not considered by COSEWIC but of
Provincial concern will upon designation by ESSRC and acceptance by Government be placed
on the provincial list.
Emergency designations. There will be provision for the
Minister to assign status and protection on an emergency basis.
Prohibitions. Persons will be prohibited from killing,
injuring, possessing, trafficking or disturbing a vulnerable, threatened or endangered
species. Critical habitat and threatened and endangered ecosystems will be protected from
Critical habitat. Critical habitat for threatened or
endangered species will be identified in status reports, recovery plans or some other
appropriate source. The boundaries for such habitat will be identified and gazetted.
Regulations identifying prohibitions within critical habitat will be developed and
implemented within 6 months to a year.
Fines. Fines of up $50,000 for an individual and $100,000
for a corporation can be assessed by the court. Second or subsequent offences will allow
for a doubling of the fine. There will also be provision for jail sentences as well as an
allowance for compensation or restoration.
Land Management Agreements. Agreements can be negotiated
with private or leasehold landowners who have critical habitat upon their lands.
Conditions of the agreement will become regulation for the area in question.
Exemptions. Certain exemptions will be allowed under the Act
for scientific research, recovery actions or items identified under land management
agreements. All exemptions will have to meet stringent criteria with the short and long
term viability of the species not put in jeopardy.
Recovery Teams. These Teams may be formed to prepare
Recovery Plans for extirpated, threatened and endangered species and ecosystems. The Teams
may consist of managers, scientists and stakeholders who have an interest in the recovery
of a species. Recovery Teams will also monitor the progress of recovery actions.
Recovery Plans/Response Statements. Recovery Plans may be
developed for extirpated, threatened or endangered species, or threatened or endangered
ecosystems and will be prepared within 1 year of listing for endangered species and 2
years for threatened species. Recovery Plans will be prepared in a prescribed format and
will have to address key issues affecting the listed species, provide achievable
objectives, describe specific research and management activities, and identify other
actions necessary for the recovery of the species. In some instances a full recovery plan
may not be required, however a Response Statement as to what Government's plans are for the listed species will be necessary.
Management Plans. These plans will be required for species
listed as vulnerable. They will be prepared by the appropriate management agency within a
prescribed time period.
We look forward to your comments, suggestions and opinions. We all share
in the responsibility for protecting our endangered species and so we should also share in
the developing of the tools to do the job.
COSEWIC Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada
Critical Habitat means habitat that is identified as critical to
the survival of a wildlife species in a status report, recovery plan or as identified by
the Minister responsible for species at risk
Ecosystem a dynamic complex of plants, animals and micro-organisms
and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit
Endangered a species facing imminent extirpation or extinction
ESSRC Endangered Species Scientific Review Committee. An
independent body of scientists responsible for status assignment for species of concern
Extinct A species that no longer exists
Extirpated A species no longer existing in the wild in Newfoundland
but occurring elsewhere
Minister means the Minister responsible for Wildlife
Species a species, subspecies or geographically distinct population
of animal, plant or other organism that is wild by nature and;
(a) native to Newfoundland
(b) has experienced a natural range extension into Newfoundland and existed here for at
least 50 years and is vulnerable, threatened or endangered elsewhere or has undergone
significant genetic variation
Threatened a species likely to become endangered if limiting
factors are not reversed
Vulnerable a species of special concern because of characteristics
that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events