Changes to Endangered Species Act coming?

by Editorial Staff | January 25, 2019

The province is undertaking a review of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to a news release issued on Jan. 18 by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). 

The ESA turned 10 years old in 2018. Currently, there are 243 species at risk in the province.

Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Rod Phillips said, “As part of the commitments contained within our made-in-Ontario environment plan, we are consulting to improve the effectiveness of our environmental protections to ensure a balanced approach between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. During the past decade of implementing the act, we have heard what works well, and what can be improved.”

The government says it is undertaking the review of the ESA to improve protections for species at risk, consider modern and innovative approaches to achieve positive outcomes for species at risk, and to look for ways to streamline approvals and provide clarity to support economic development. 

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), which has been asking for a review of the ESA for years, welcomes the discussion.

“This review is important for anglers, hunters, and trappers because it provides an opportunity to fix the law’s shortcomings that cause unnecessarily restrictive management of game species. We’ve experienced this most recently with the Algonquin Wolf,” said Mark Ryckman, OFAH manager of policy.

“We are tired of the act’s “no harvest” default position when it comes to species at risk. We want to see a more open listing process that allows for better public engagement, a more ecosystem-based approach, and greater flexibility to use the best practical solutions that benefit species at risk,” said Ryckman.

Desired outcomes listed in the discussion paper include enhancing the government’s ability to enforce regulations under the ESA, ensuring that the species assessments for the Species at Risk in Ontario List are based on current science, streamlining related approvals and processes, maintaining effective government oversight, and increasing transparency around the process for listing species. 

The MECP has posted a discussion paper on the Environmental Registry 
(ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4143) to allow for public comment until March 4, 2019. 

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