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Nature Canada calls on Fisheries and Oceans Committee to Strengthen the Fisheries Act
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Nature Canada calls on Fisheries and Oceans Committee to Strengthen the Fisheries Act

[caption id="attachment_28942" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Adam Bond Adam Bond[/caption] Nature Canada is calling on the House of Commons Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) to recommend that the Fisheries Act be amended to account for cumulative effects of works, undertakings and activities that harm fish habitat as well as enhance the standard for protecting fish habitat. As part of the Government of Canada’s environmental law reform process, FOPO is reviewing lost protections under the Fisheries Act and consulting with Canadians on how to address concerns about the protection of fish and fish habitat. Nature Canada’s brief to FOPO contains six important recommendations, including the need for the Act to respect Indigenous rights; articulate its purposes; trigger environmental assessments where appropriate; clearly define “emissions”; revert to the harmful alteration, disturbance or destruction (HADD) standard for habitat protection; and account for cumulative effects on fish habitat. Currently, the Act prohibits works, undertakings and activities that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery unless an exception is provided. By reverting to the HADD standard which applied prior to the 2012 amendments of the Act, Parliament can ensure a higher standard of protection for fish habitat. [caption id="attachment_30406" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Sockeye Salmon Photo of a Sockeye Salmon[/caption] The 2012 amendments diminished the scope of section 35 prohibitions on harm to fish by limiting the protections from prohibitions on harm to any fish habitat to prohibitions only on serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery. The “serious harm standard” that replaced the HADD standard in the 2013 amendments fails to take into consideration the impacts of harmful alterations, disruptions and destruction of fish habitat on fish unless each impact independently constitutes a “serious harm”. Limiting the scope of section 35 to prohibit serious harm only to commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fisheries boldly ignores the nature of ecosystems and the complex and dynamic relationships between organisms in their ecosystems. Sustainable management of fisheries can only be achieved through policies that are informed by science and evidence. The cumulative effects of diverse anthropogenic environmental stresses on aquatic ecosystems must be accounted for under the Fisheries Act. The Act must look beyond the impacts of individual activities to gain a more holistic understanding of the cumulative effects of the multitude of stressors that are degrading fish habitat and undermining the stability of fish stocks. As well, the pressures of climate change on oceans, such as temperature or coastal changes and water acidification work synergistically with other impacts such as pollution, plastics, noise and geophysical alteration to harm fish and fish habitat. Stock must be taken of these environmental impacts and this information must inform decision making under the Act. Failing to monitor and protect fish habitat against the direct and cumulative impacts of human activities on fish and fish habitat will undermine efforts to protect, restore or responsibly manage Canadian fisheries. The FOPO has an opportunity to recommend amendments to the Fisheries Act that restore and enhance protection for our fisheries.

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No Bull: Native Trout Threatened in Alberta
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No Bull: Native Trout Threatened in Alberta

The bull trout (salvelinus confluentus) is a salmonid, specifically a char, and Alberta’s official provincial fish. Native to northwestern North America, bull trout of Alberta are listed as a threatened species according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and as a vulnerable species under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A recent Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development blog post estimates that there are only a total of approximately 20, 000 bull trout remaining in the province. That population estimate alone might not set off alarm bells to the casual reader, but when you consider that the Alberta Government’s fish stocking program planted 1, 667, 406 rainbow, brown, and brook trout (or roughly 83 times the total number of native bull trout) into local water bodies in 2014 alone, the significance of the estimate is infinitely more apparent. According to the Alberta’s Species at Risk Program “Bull Trout Conservation Management Plan 2012 - 2017,” bull trout have suffered a 33% reduction in historical range and 78% of the identified core management areas are vulnerable to extirpation, with 6% already considered extirpated. The report also states that where bull trout recovery has occurred, it has been mostly due to angling regulation changes such as the province-wide zero retention limit and localized bait bans. This leaves the province’s highly active resource extraction and development industries as the most substantial hurdle to bull trout survival and recovery. trout from above by Cory WilalrdBull trout can be distinguished from other char by the lack of dark markings on the dorsal fin (as appears in the non-native brook trout), or the lack of a deeply forked tail (as found in Alberta’s only other native char—the lake trout). Bull trout tend to be a dark grey to olive in colour, with yellow to red coloured spots, white leading edges on their fins, and a large head in proportion to their bodies when compared to other salmonid species. There are two main variations of the bull trout. “Resident” bull trout are the smaller of the two and remain in the same stream for their entire lives. “Migratory” bull trout, on the other hand, move throughout watersheds, lakes, and the ocean in coastal populations. Migratory bull trout tend to get much larger than resident bull trout and can achieve weights of over 10kg, while resident bull trout rarely reach half of that size. Bull trout are slow to mature and have exacting habitat demands, especially when spawning, and this has led to a number of complications leading to their decline in recent years. Competition from non-native brook trout threatens populations in many river systems, with hybridization being a major concern, and pressure from native lake trout has proved to all but completely displace bull trout in circumstances where they are forced to compete, such as the creation of Abraham Lake with the construction of the Bighorn Dam on the North Saskatchewan River in the 1970s. The increased warming and sedimentation of the headwaters spawning areas of bull trout due to logging, oil and gas exploration, and recreation use has also played a significant role the decline of the bull trout. bull trout poacher sign by Cory WillardThe outlook isn’t all bad for the bull trout, however. The recent official designation as a threatened species will hopefully usher in some changes in protection and management of its fragile aquatic territories. Recent regional plans have also acknowledged that increased recreational education and enforcement is necessary to stop the degradation of important habitat. As is so often the case, the bull trout is another example of the conflict between economic and ecological concerns and, hopefully, future changes to headwaters management will provide some protection to this amazing fish. Living in the coldest, cleanest, and clearest waters, bull trout are an integral indicator species of fresh water quality. They are worth protecting. For, as stated in The Fishes of Middle and North America published in 1896, “no higher praise can be given to a Salmonid than, to say it is a charr.”


Cory Willard has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Calgary and an M.A. in English Rhetoric and Communication Design from the University of Waterloo. He is an avid fly fisher and outdoorsmen and is particularly interested in how outdoor activities can physically and spiritually bond people to places and turn them into ecologically aware environmental defenders. You can connect with Cory on his blog http://corywillard.wordpress.com or via twitter @_cgwillard

7 ways to help infographic
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7 ways to help infographic

Tweet and share this infographic with your neighbours in the NatureHood   Be a good neighbour in the NatureHood - 7 Ways to Help Species At Risk

Ottawa hands over fisheries protection along pipelines to National Energy Board
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Ottawa hands over fisheries protection along pipelines to National Energy Board

The responsibility for protecting fish and fish habitat in areas affected by pipelines and other energy projects regulated by the National Energy Board (NEB) will now fall to the NEB and not to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The transfer of responsibility was announced quietly in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies on December 16, 2013, just days before the Joint Review Panel released its recommendation on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. It’s a decision that places the protection of fish and fish habitat into the hands of an oil-friendly regulatory body, a move that has alarmed environmental groups and conservationists.

Species Spotlight: Greensided Darter
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Species Spotlight: Greensided Darter

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschenes Ottawa River IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot.” Today meet the: Greenside Darter Scientific Name: Etheostoma blennioides SARA Status: Special Concern Taxonomic group: Fishes Size: 76 mm length, but can reach up to 140 mm [caption id="attachment_1757" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Greenside Darter Greenside Darter[/caption] The Greenside darter has a cylindrical body, the head is wide and triangular, and the snout is rounded and is slightly extended to the mouth. It has two dorsal fins that are very close together, the caudal fin (tail) is slightly forked and pectoral fins (those along the sides) are slightly pointed, large and well-developed. Juveniles have more pointed pelvic fins than adults.  Males are larger and more colorful than females. This fish is olive-green with green V-shaped marks on the sides. Greenside darters reach sexual maturity after 1 year of hatching and can live up to 3-4 years. Spawning occurs in spring and early summer, and eggs are deposited under rocks cover with filamentous green algae. Spawning occurs in pairs, and both sexes will spawn with different partners during the breeding season. There is no parental care, but males usually guard the territory where eggs were laid, although with time this becomes more difficult because males continue to mate with multiple females over the season. Because Greenside darters have no swim bladder, an organ which allows many fish to control their buoyancy and thus stay at a particular depth easily in currents, they live at the bottom of rivers, streams and lakes. Species that live at the bottom of a water body are considered benthic. They like to eat immature benthic insects like midge, mayfly and blackfly larvae. Greenside Darter also prefers to live in clear and moderate to fast flow waters. Runoffs from farmlands and urban development to rivers and creeks are threats to Greenside darter populations affecting them directly or through their food supply. Habitat loss has been an important factor for this species decline in several places. Where Else Can You See This Species? Greenside darters can be found in few river systems in southwestern Ontario, it has been reported on Thames River, Ausable, Sydenham and Big Creek drainages. This species was introduced to the Grand River in early 90’s, but has disappeared in several other locations in the province. Did you know? •    Darters communicate mainly through coloration; males use it to intimidate other males or to attract females. And females may change color contrast to communicate with males. •    They show a defensive behavior known as Freezing and can stop moving for some time when a predator is close by. •    The Greenside darter plays an important role as a host in the reproductive cycle of several freshwater mussels in their larval stage, providing them with transportation and distribution into other areas. •    Breeding only occurs when the water temperature is between 11 to 23 degrees. •    Their predators are smallmouth bass and several kinds of trout. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and the location of your sighting are also very helpful! We would like to thank our guest blogger Monica Reyes for this post. Monica is a conservation volunteer for Nature Canada.She is a biologist from Mexico interested in wildlife conservation and environmental education.

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Recap of COSEWIC’s latest Wildlife Species Assessment meeting
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Recap of COSEWIC’s latest Wildlife Species Assessment meeting

[three_fourth] A few weeks ago, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) released assessments on 42 Canadian wildlife species. Some of the species on the list had not been assessed before, and the addition of these species brings the total number of wildlife species listed by COSEWIC as at risk to 668. Species are put into one of six risk categoriesNot At RiskSpecial ConcernThreatenedEndangeredExtirpated (no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but still exists elsewhere), and Extinct. Also in some cases there isn’t enough information to make an informed decision, whereupon COSEWIC assesses the species as Data Deficient.   Here are a few highlights from the December 2012 assessments: [separator headline="h2" title="Birds"] The Wood Thrush, along with the Eastern Wood Pewee, are two bird species among the 42 species assessed by COSEWIC this year. Neither of these birds has ever been assessed by COSEWIC in the past. The Wood Thrush was assessed as Threatened and the Eastern Wood Pewee Special Concern. As the names suggest, both of these species are associated with woodland habitat. The Eastern Wood Pewee belongs to a group called ‘aerial insectivores’ that catch their insect prey in-flight. In the past 40 years aerial insectivores have shown a remarkable decline of almost 70%. For this reason the assignment of Special Concern to the Eastern Wood Pewee, one of the most common aerial insectivores in eastern North America, is a harbinger of a startling trend. [separator headline="h2" title="Mammals"] Four populations of the American Badger were assessed, and three of the four were determined to be Endangered. The remaining fourth population has been classified as Not At Risk for the past 30 years, and has now been moved to the Special Concern category. Badgers need open habitat where they can dig in the soil to create their burrows. Now these few suitable habitat patches are often near roads, making roadkill a major threat to badgers. Many other species, including at-risk snakes and toads, are also particularly susceptible to roadkill. [separator headline="h2" title="Fish"] The St. Lawrence Estuary population of the Striped Bass is an example of federal protection and recovery initiatives having a positive influence on a species. In 2004 this population of Striped Bass was designated Extirpated. Reintroduction efforts with fish from the Miramichi River have increased abundance and distribution of the population, and have even resulted in natural spawning. It is not yet clear if this population is self-sustaining, and threats to the Striped Bass such as susceptibility to by-catch from commercial fisheries and dredging are still present. However the reintroduction efforts proved effective enough for the population to be down-listed to Endangered in the 2012 review. The Bay of Fundy population of Striped Bass is however not faring as well. In 2004 this population was designated Threatened. Threats such as exploitation from recreational fishing, by-catch in commercial fisheries, poaching and habitat degradation have taken their toll on the Bay of Fundy population of Striped Bass and the 2012 designation was increased to Endangered. [separator headline="h2" title="What's next?"] Now that COSEWIC has completed this latest round of Wildlife Species Assessments, COSEWIC's interim assessment and status report for each of the assessed species will be finalized by the appropriate Species Specialist Subcommittee. The status appraisals given for each species are compiled as part of COSEWIC’s Annual Report and submitted to the federal Minister of Environment every fall, for the Minister’s consideration for listing under the Species At Risk Act (SARA). Under the Act the Minister has 90 days to issue a response statement for each of the assessed species after receiving COSEWIC's Annual Report. After the Minister’s response is issued  the Government has an additional nine months to review the assessments and, in consultation with the Minister, determine whether to list or not legally list the species under the Act. The Minister can also decide to defer assessments back to COSEWIC. We thank our regular guest contributor and Nature Canada's Species At Risk Intern, Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, for this post. [/three_fourth][one_fourth_last] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Wood Thrush being banded Wood Thrush being banded[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Wood Thrush Wood Thrush[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Eastern Wood-pewee Eastern Wood-pewee[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]American badger American badger (taxus subsepecies)[/caption] [/one_fourth_last]

The results are in! Canadians don’t want their water bodies wasted, even at the expense of jobs
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The results are in! Canadians don’t want their water bodies wasted, even at the expense of jobs

Image of a canoe on a lakeWhat do you think about metal mining companies getting an 'okay' from government to destroy water bodies with toxic mine tailings?
If you're thinking "I disagree with that!" then you share an opinion with 96% of Canadians, according to the results of a Léger Marketing national opinion poll* commissioned by Nature Canada earlier this month.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise to you that Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the a legal loophole that permits metal mining companies to dump mine waste into natural lakes. The opinion poll showed that 96% of Canadians either "somewhat" or "strongly" disagree with metal mining companies converting natural water bodies into ‘impoundment areas’ for toxic mine tailings using the Schedule 2 loophole in the federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (created under the Fisheries Act). Without the Schedule 2 loophole, which is actually a list of water bodies in which tailings of any toxicity can be deposited, this practice of wasting lakes would otherwise contravene the Fisheries Act.
Another amazing result from the poll showed that even in these difficult economic times, nearly all Canadians are more concerned with protecting natural water bodies than they are the potential cancellation of a valuable mining project. Fully 98% of respondents stated they would still be opposed to dumping waste in a lake even if prohibiting the practice meant a mine project – and the associated jobs – might be cancelled.
I think these results overwhelmingly demonstrate that Canadians love their waterscapes. Water bodies define Canada culturally, spiritually, historically and emotionally and are readily accessible to all Canadians. Lakes and waterways shape our nation literally and figuratively. For these and many other reasons, Canadians inherently recognize that purposely destroying a living lake with toxic waste just isn’t responsible.
Image of a tree and a lakeLet us know what you think about this, too. Sign the Love My Lake Declaration now and tell us about your favourite water body and why it should never be deliberately polluted. We're also inviting 'lake-lovers' to put a face on their declaration by submitting a 'video signature'**.
What worries Nature Canada and others about the Schedule 2 loophole is that wasting natural water bodies seems to be turning into a normal part of business for mining companies. One of our key concerns with this loophole is that it overlooks the true ecological value and function of Canada’s water bodies. As a result, we're running the Stop Wasting Our Lakes campaign to engage Canadians on this issue and encourage government to close the “Schedule 2 loophole”. You should check it out, and consider tweeting about it or liking the campaign on Facebook.
In the face of lots of recent media on the weakening of Canada's important environmental regulations, our poll results are a clear indication that Canadians value their lakes, rivers and wetlands over development at any cost, and government needs to listen. Again, help us send this message by signing the Love My Lake Declaration, or by sending us a video signature**.
The poll also suggested that Canadians expect more cooperation and innovation between industry and government to find better tailings disposal solutions. A full 67% of poll respondents said alternatives to lake disposal should be explored or developed in order for mining projects to proceed.
And don't forget: signing the Love My Lake Declaration is a great gift to the Earth if you forgot to celebrate Earth Day yesterday! ----- *Léger Marketing polled 1, 507 Canadians between April 2 and April 4. **To send a video signature for the Love My Lake Declaration, please contact us first at admin (at) stopwastingourlakes.ca and we'll help you from there!

Lake Killing Made Easy
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Lake Killing Made Easy

[caption id="attachment_25808" align="alignleft" width="300"]dead fish body in contaminated river. environmental concept. dead fish body in contaminated river. environmental concept.[/caption]
Given his growing reputation as a national public voice on the special relationship Canadians have with their lakes, Nature Canada approached Allan Casey to ask for his view on the Schedule 2 loophole in the federal Fisheries Act. This opinion piece, first published in the Tyee, expresses Allan’s view on that loophole.Here’s a very Canuck fantasy for tax season. Imagine you had a gold mine of your very own. Let’s say you’ve got a little lakefront place and one day last summer while skipping stones with the kids you discovered gold (substitute copper, nickel or marketable metal of your choice). Since you wisely acquired mineral rights, you can start digging this year. The trouble is, for every hundredweight of ore you haul up and process, 95 to 99.9 percent of it will become a soggy, leaky, acutely toxic pile of waste. Where should you put this?The last thing you’d do to solve this uniquely Canadian problem is to dump the toxic mess into your pretty little lake — where your kids swim, where the pickerel or trout are plentiful.Yet that is precisely the new trend in Canadian mining. Exploiting a loophole in the  Fisheries Act, mining companies — with the full blessing of the federal government — are permanently destroying pristine fish-bearing lakes by turning them into waste dumps.With the arrival of Canada Water Week, we in this lucky land must remind ourselves that we are stewards of the greatest lakefront property in the world. Collectively, we citizens of this freshwater country also happen to be mineral-rich. Sadly, our old-school government is incapable of exploiting the latter wealth without destroying the former. Under the little-known Schedule 2 of The Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, healthy wild lakes are being reclassified as “tailings impoundment areas.” The effluent regulations were created to protect Canadian waters, not destroy them. When the Liberal government revised the regulations in 2002, Schedule 2 was a last-minute grandfather clause to legitimize five already-polluted lakes. Since 2006, the Harper government has used Schedule 2 to sanction the destruction of no less than eight healthy, wild lakes or waterbodies, and grandfathered another six already-polluted ones. Mining companies stand to gain enormous cost savings via Schedule 2 “exceptions.” No need to build expensive tailings containments from scratch if the government will let you just dump your industrial waste in a nearby lake and be done with it. Bizarrely, the mining industry would have Canadians believe that purposely destroying pure Canadian lakes is somehow environmentally responsible. Natural lakes make “safer” containments, they argue, than any structure they could build. This cynical doublespeak merely clouds the ugly truth — that Schedule 2 is a quick and dirty means to profit. It all sounds implausible. But the recent decision to give Taseko Mines Ltd. a second environmental review for its already-discredited Prosperity Mine proposal in central British Columbia shows how far we have moved toward making lake-killing standard practice for Canadian mining in the 21rst century. In 2010, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency rejected Taseko’s proposal to build a $1billion gold-copper mine in the South Chilcotin. Under Schedule 2 fine print, beautiful Fish Lake would have been drained and destroyed forever. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Tsilhqot'in National Government whose vehement protests no doubt swayed the review panel. Now Taskeo is back with an almost identical proposal that would spare Fish Lake but still destroy Little Fish Lake, a smaller waterbody upstream. Meanwhile, across the country, the coalition called the Sandy Pond Alliance is awaiting their day in federal court, hoping to have Schedule 2 ruled in contravention of the Fisheries Act. Even if they win, it might be too late to save trout-rich Sandy Pond itself from becoming a nickel tailings pit for Vale Inco. The number of waterbodies threatened by Schedule 2 is not easy to get. Neither Environment Canada nor Fisheries and Oceans publishes a simple list. Thanks to the vigilance of folks at NGOs who painstakingly track mining sector environmental reviews, it is known that 20 water bodies are already destroyed or in-process under Schedule 2. What began as handful of one-time exceptions is an emerging business trend. Alexander MacDonald of Nature Canada estimates that about one-in-six of Canada’s metal mines have already sought protection under Schedule 2. Taking a stand against this dangerous precedent alongside many environmental and social justice groups, Nature Canada has launched a campaign called Stop Wasting Our Lakes. Mining companies see plainly that government environmental stewardship in Canada is being torn asunder by the Harper government. They know that the demoralized rank and file at Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries labour under gag orders. They are emboldened by our departure from Kyoto. They see the time is ripe for sophistry, a chance to turn back the clock on our hard-won environmental law. We citizens cannot allow our government to re-label pieces of the legally protected biosphere simply to have them destroyed for profit. It threatens more than just lakes, but the whole human-nature sphere. Schedule 2 belongs in the nineteenth-century. We might just as well re-start the bison slaughter. In 2012, Canadians will no longer accept permanent environmental damage as the cost of transient corporate profit. Allan Casey is the author of Lakeland: Ballad of a Freshwater Country (Greystone Books), which won the 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction. He lives in Saskatoon.

World Vertebrate Populations Declining – How is Canada Doing?
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World Vertebrate Populations Declining – How is Canada Doing?

[three_fourth] A new study, The Impact of Conservation on the Status of the World's Vertebrates, published in the journal Science, sheds light on the global biodiversity crisis we are facing today.

Carried out by 174 scientists from around the world, and using data for 25,780 species (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fishes) from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, the study finds that an estimated 20% of the world's vertebrates are Threatened - assigned Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable status according to the IUCN Red List. Of the 20% are 25% of all mammals, 13% of birds, 22% of reptiles, 41% of amphibians, 33% of cartilaginous fishes (e.g., sharks and rays) and 15% of bony fishes (i.e., fish with scales). Their study shows that an average of 52 species of mammals, birds and amphibians move closer to extinction annually.
The main threats driving these species towards extinction are logging, over-exploitation, agricultural expansion and invasive alien species. Southeast Asia has experienced the most losses and faces high risk of extinction. Other regions seeing large declines in biodiversity include parts of Central America, the tropical Andes of South America and Australia.
On a more positive note, the study shows clear evidence that without conservation efforts biodiversity loss would have increased by 18%. Their analysis showed that 64 mammal, bird and amphibian species had their status improved due to such efforts. Three of these species (the California Condor, Gymnogyps californianus, and the Black-footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes, in the United States, and Przewalski’s Horse, Equus ferus, in Mongolia) had been extinct in the wild and later reintroduced.
To ensure that conservation work continues to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, their study shows that commitment and resources are needed. Referring to the tenth meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, IUCN's Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre says "this is clear evidence for why we absolutely must emerge from Nagoya with a strategic plan of action to direct our efforts for biodiversity in the coming decade. It is a clarion call for all of us – governments, businesses, citizens – to mobilize resources and drive the action required. Conservation does work but it needs our support, and it needs it fast!”
Canada's latest and most comprehensive report on biodiversity, Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, shows that in this country 20% of amphibians are at risk of extinction, 17% percent of freshwater fish are Endangered or Threatened, 40% of grassland birds have been lost and there has been a 50% decline in the 35 shorebird species found in Canada. Canada's 4th National Report to the CBD (a reporting mechanism under the Convention every four years), which assessed progress towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target, showed that an average of 17% of Canadian species across all taxa are considered 'at risk', 30 species were Extirpated and 12 have gone Extinct.
Join us in urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take action in conserving Canada's natural heritage during this International Year of Biodiversity! And don't forget that there are changes we can all make in our everyday lives that will benefit biodiversity, too.
Photo 1: African Elephant
Photo 2: Burrowing Owl
[/three_fourth][one_fourth_last]Image of an African Elephant Image of burrowing owls[/one_fourth_last]

Sockeye salmon return to BC in record numbers after last year’s disappearing act
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Sockeye salmon return to BC in record numbers after last year’s disappearing act

Photo by Chris Pike
/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} The succulent orange-fleshed sockeye salmon is a prized meat and a popular dish to many, and a cornerstone of the North American commercial fishing industry. Last year, a dramatic decline in sockeye salmon in the Fraser River sparked calls for a Commission to investigate the crash. According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 9 to 11 million sockeye salmon didn’t returned to the Fraser River in 2009. Now people in the Fraser Valley community of British Columbia are rejoicing, as the salmon returned in droves, hitting a record high not seen since 1913. Current estimates provided by the Pacific Salmon Commission lists the fish population at 25 million. Sockeye salmon have been off limits to West Coast fishermen for the last four years. “This is the first year we’ve fished sockeye in four years, and we don’t expect to fish for the next three years,” said Phil Eidsvik, spokesman for the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition. Salmon have a four-year life cycle. They breed and rear in fresh water until they reach adulthood, then venture out to the open sea where they will grow rapidly (size ranges from 60 to 84 centimetres in length and weight can be between 2.3 to 7 kilograms). The salmon reside for at least one year and then finally return to their native fresh water homes where the cycle begins anew. Ironically, the Cohen Commission in charge of the federal probe into last year’s decline began touring B.C. communities on August 18 and will continue to do so until October 21 to uncover ‘why sockeye salmon are disappearing’. Public hearing will start on October 25 and continue into 2011 when researchers’ final reports are due next January. Currently experts can only speculate as to why sockeye numbers are so high this year but were so very low last year. Gail Shea, federal minister of fisheries and oceans, said “she had no idea why the numbers are so high”, but that the commission will need to take this new information into account. She also stated that, “the salmon is not gone” and that she sensed some real hope in an industry which many had feared for some time was coming to an end, “but that couldn’t be further from the truth, obviously.”

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