Ministerial Round Table on Species at Risk Meets in Ottawa
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson hosted the Minister’s Round Table on Species at Risk in Ottawa on April 11. Environment and Climate Change Canada Minister Catherine McKenna was represented at the Round Table by her parliamentary secretary Sean Casey.
Participants in the Round Table included the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (of which Nature Canada is a member) as well as Indigenous and First Natons Advisory groups.
A key theme of the discussions was that the increasing number of species at risk is not only part of the biodiversity crisis but also represents ongoing breaches of the aboriginal and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples. Recovering species at risk could therefore support reconciliation with Indigenous people.
Another key theme was how to achieve the transformation in species at risk towards multi-species and place-based approaches that the federal government is advancing in its Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Consevation. Tools under the current Species at Risk Act (such as conservation agreements) are inadequate to support this transformation, so policy, regulatory, and perhaps legislative, changes may be necessary to drive the stewardship that is needed.
Recovery of barren-ground and boreal caribou was also a key theme at the Round Table.
The full engagement of Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the advisory group meetings was also welcome given that so many species at risk are marine or aquatic species (Orca, Northern Right Whale, Chinook Salmon, Atlantic Salmon)