November 22, 2001
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)


Minister to introduce endangered species legislation

Kevin Aylward, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, will introduce important legislation that will protect species at risk in Newfoundland and Labrador. This province has a number of threatened or endangered species including the Newfoundland marten, wolverine, piping plover, eskimo curlew, longs braya (plant), barrens willow (plant), fernalds braya (plant), peregrine falcon and the woodland caribou in Labrador.

"There are several reasons why it is important that we protect our many and diverse species, some of which, like the longs braya, barrens willow and fernalds braya are located only here in this province, they do not exist anywhere else in the wild in the world," said Minister Aylward. "These species are valuable to their ecosystems in establishing and maintaining a control and balance. In the past, we have lost valuable species such as the great auk, Newfoundland wolf and eelgrass limpet due to habitat loss, over-hunting, the introduction of other species, and disease. We must not lose other species and this legislation will help prevent that from happening.

"The Endangered Species Legislation is a result of extensive and constructive consultation with the people of the province regarding endangered species and information gathered from studies of species such as the pine marten, wolverine and piping plover projects. Public meetings were held in nine communities around the province with more than 180 people attending. Fifty-four written submissions were received from individuals, environmental and industry groups and the Inuit and Innu resulting in a number of changes being made to the proposed legislation and policy document. Eight hundred comments, questions and opinions were received."

The endangered species legislation will apply to species, sub-species and populations that are normally native to the province but not to marine fish, bacteria, and viruses. The act will apply only on provincial Crown and private land but not on federal lands or in federal waters. It also does not apply to introduced species except in extraordinary circumstances.

The legislation will provide for protection of and recovery programs for threatened or endangered species, or those species which have become extirpated meaning they may no longer exist in the province but exist in a more global, geographical context. There will be allowance for exemptions under ministerial permit including activities related to research, education, recovery, ceremonial or religious needs however, a species and its residence habitat must not be put at further risk as a result of an exemption. A permit will be provided only if the impact to the species� overall survival when examined, are acceptable to the minister.

The national committee, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and the provincial organization which will now be established, the Species Status Advisory Committee (SSAC), will advise Cabinet as to the status of a species.

The act sets the rules for administration and enforcement with many of the provisions taken from the Wildlife Act. Fines will range from $1,000 to $400,000. Previously, species at risk were afforded minimal or no protection. There was no legal listing process, and no prohibitions specific to endangered species and allowance for recovery. Most plants were afforded no legal protection under the law except when they were located in protected areas such as parks and reserves.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to this new endangered species legislation and the subsequent protection and conservation of endangered species. This act fulfills the province�s commitment to the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, signed in the fall of 1996.

Media contact: Catherina Kennedy, Communications, (709) 729-0928.

2001 11 22                                  2:35 p.m.

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