Environment commissioner warns Canada failing to protect commercially valuable fish

OTTAWA — A new audit of Canada's efforts to protect aquatic species at risk of going extinct says the federal government is biased against listing commercially valuable fish as needing protection.

The audit is one of six new reports published today by environment commissioner Jerry DeMarco.

He says Fisheries and Oceans Canada is very slow to act when the national committee responsible for assessing whether species need protection says a particular aquatic creature or plant is in danger.

And when a specific type of fish has commercial value, the department's default appears to be advising against listing it as in need of special protection under the Species At Risk Act.

DeMarco's audit looked closely at nine fish, two mussels and one sea turtle the committee assessed as needing protection.

In every case, Fisheries and Oceans decided against listing those with significant commercial value while those without commercial value got protection.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press