Recreational Boating and
the Species at Risk Act
For millions of Canadians boating is a way of Aquatic species at risk What is critical habitat?
life, offering the chance to get out and see the
world from a fresh perspective. It’s a pastime that Today, 34 aquatic species have been classified ‘at To put it simply, critical habitat is vital to the survival
comes with certain responsibilities. And with the risk’ under SARA; an additional 28 species are under or recovery of wildlife species. It may be an identified
introduction of Canada’s new Species at Risk Act consideration. Those listed currently include the breeding site, nursery area or feeding ground. For
(SARA), it is likely that some of those responsibilities spotted and northern wolffish, Atlantic whitefish, species at risk, such habitats are of the utmost
will evolve. Here’s what you need to know. and Inner Bay of Fundy salmon as well as marine importance, and where possible must be identified
animals such as the leatherback turtle and sea otter. in recovery strategies or action plans.
Protecting wildlife Under SARA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Species are designated ‘at risk’ by the Committee
must produce recovery strategies and action plans on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
The Species at Risk Act was created to prevent wildlife for aquatic species listed as endangered or threatened. (COSEWIC), an independent body of experts
species from becoming extinct. It requires Canada Recovery strategies for fish and marine species that assesses wildlife according to a broad range of
to provide for the recovery of species at risk due to currently listed under SARA will be developed in scientific data. The federal Cabinet then decides
human activity, and to manage species of special collaboration with stakeholders, and must be whether those species should be listed under the
concern, making sure they don’t become endangered completed as soon as 2006. These strategies and Species at Risk Act. This decision is made after
or threatened. SARA not only prohibits the killing, plans may include restrictions on boating activities consultations with affected stakeholders and
harming, harassing, capturing or taking of species at to protect either the species themselves or their other groups.
risk, but also makes it illegal to destroy their critical critical habitats.
habitats. The Act became law in June 2003, and
becomes enforceable in June 2004.
Fisheries and Oceans Pêches et Océans
Once the decision is made to list a species, SARA Whatever the case, restrictions will be communicated What can you do?
requires recovery strategies and action plans to be clearly. DFO has made it a long-term priority to
developed. These strategies must identify threats to communicate information about species at risk to Every one of us can make a difference in helping to
critical habitat and outline approaches to addressing stakeholder groups, conservation associations, and protect species at risk and their habitats. Make sure
those threats. provincial and municipal environmental authorities you’re in compliance with SARA by obeying the
across the country. latest boating restrictions in your area: reduce speed
and keep a safe distance from critical habitat where
What it could mean It is important to understand that the process for indicated. You can also take active steps to protect
Today, there are many boating restrictions in effect listing a species under SARA is thorough and species at risk in your community. The Habitat
in Canada. Most of these were created to ensure well considered. Decisions are not made lightly; Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP)
public safety, but SARA introduces a new set of significant scientific research is conducted and key sponsors local stewardship activities. It is managed
considerations. It is possible that environmentally stakeholder groups are always consulted. jointly by Environment Canada, DFO and Parks
motivated boating restrictions may be added in It is also important to appreciate that while SARA Canada. For more information, visit the HSP
years to come to protect species at risk. These could represents a significant step forward in Canada’s website at: http://www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/hsp-pih.
include restrictions on speed limits or boating ability to prevent the extinction of wildlife species, To find out more about where species at risk reside,
activity, as well as prohibitions against the use of it fits into the regulatory framework that exists contact local environmental groups, municipal
motorized vessels on particular bodies of water. today. In other words, while you may as a boater and provincial governments, as well as the SARA
have new rules to be aware of when travelling your registry at www.SARAregistry.gc.ca.
favourite waterway, those rules will be administered
exactly as they are today.
For more information
To find out more about SARA, please visit: Or contact DFO at:
• www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca (click on Species at Risk link) Email: email@example.com
• www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca Telephone: 1-866-266-6603
• www.SARAregistry.gc.ca DFO6337