by Clayton Coppaway & Kate Nelson, Mi’kmaw Conservation Group

Hundreds of Canadian wildlife species today face the risk of extinction. Some are vital characters in our diverse cultures and histories; some are the last of their kind in the world-and all of them have an important role in the ecosystem. In the aquatic world, these species are astoundingly diverse-ranging from tiny freshwater molluscs to roving giants of the oceans like the North Atlantic right whale and the famous blue whale. The question is not if we should try to protect them from vanishing forever. The question is how to go about it.

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) became law in 2003 to protect wildlife species by working to protect and recover species that are listed under SARA; and using sound management to make sure that species of special concern don’t become endangered or threatened. SARA includes prohibitions against harming or interfering with species at risk-from killing and capturing to buying, selling and collecting. It prohibits destroying the critical habitats of protected species. And it also prohibits damaging or destroying the residences of those species. However, before the species can be listed under SARA, a public consultation period is held.

The Government of Canada is currently holding public consultation on four Atlantic fish species: Southern Upland population of Atlantic Salmon, American Plaice; Atlantic Cod; and Redfish.
Each of these species has experienced dramatic population declines and has been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) as either threatened or endangered. These consultation periods provide an opportunity for our Communities to comment and share perspectives on these important species before the species is listed under SARA . The consultation period for the American plaice, Atlantic Cod, and Redfish ends on January 31, 2013, followed by the Atlantic Salmon which ends on March 24, 2014.

If you would like to share your views on these species or to learn more, you can visit the SARA registry’s public consultation homepage: or you can contact Clayton Coppaway  or  at (902) 895.6385 Ext. 269.

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