Orders for the critical habitat of aquatic species listed under the Species at Risk Act

Description of the objective

Critical habitat is the habitat that is necessary for a listed wildlife species' survival or recovery and that is identified as the species' critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species. Its protection is a cornerstone of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Critical Habitat Orders established under section 58 of SARA will be proposed to provide protection to the critical habitat of listed aquatic species.

The Critical Habitat Order triggers the prohibition in section 58(1) of SARA against the destruction of any part of the critical habitat of a listed endangered or threatened species, or of a listed extirpated species if a recovery strategy has recommended its reintroduction into the wild in Canada. SARA requires that the critical habitat be legally protected, either under SARA or under another Act of Parliament, within 180 days after the posting on the Public Registry of the final recovery strategy or action plan that identified the critical habitat.

The following is a list of species whose final recovery strategy or action plan has been posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry, or whose final recovery strategy or action plan is anticipated to be posted within the next 6 months, and for which critical habitat has been identified. Critical Habitat Orders for the following species are being proposed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

  • Atlantic Whitefish
  • Carmine Shiner
  • Channel Darter
  • Coastrange Sculpin (Cultus Population)
  • Copper redhorse
  • Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec)
  • Harbour Seal Lac des Loups
  • Hotwater Physa
  • Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon
  • Kidneyshell
  • Lake Chubsucker
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle (Atlantic)
  • Misty Lake Sticklebacks
  • Nooksack Dace (to be repealed and replaced)
  • North Atlantic Right whale
  • Northern Bottlenose whale
  • Northern Resident Killer Whale (to be repealed and replaced)
  • Northern Riffleshell
  • Northern Wolffish
  • Paxton Lake Sticklebacks
  • Pugnose Shiner
  • Rainbow Smelt (Lake Utopia small bodied population)
  • Rayed Bean
  • Round Hickorynut
  • Round Pigtoe
  • Salamander Mussel
  • Salish Sucker
  • Snuffbox
  • Southern Resident Killer Whale (to be repealed and replaced)
  • Speckled Dace
  • Spotted Wolffish
  • Spring Cisco
  • Striped bass, St. Lawrence
  • Vanada Creek Sticklebacks
  • Vancouver Lamprey
  • Western Brook Lamprey (Morrison Creek)
  • Western Silvery Minnow

Critical Habitat Orders for other aquatic species will be developed as recovery strategies or action plans, which identify critical habitat, are finalized.

Indication of business impacts

There may be business impacts. The “One-for-One” Rule and/or Small Business Lens may apply.

Public consultation opportunities

For all species, consultation on Critical Habitat Order begins during the development of the recovery strategy or action plan which identifies critical habitat. Upon completion, the proposed recovery strategy or action plan is then posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry at which time all Canadians are given a 60 day period to provide comments. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans then has 30 days to review the comments before posting a final version of the document on the Public Registry.

During the 2018-2020 planning period, it is anticipated that for some species, the proposed Critical Habitat Order will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I to give Canadians a further 30 day notice period to provide comments. After the closure of the publication period, the final version of the Order must be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. All Critical Habitat Orders are published in Canada Gazette II.

You can visit the Species at Risk Public Registry for more information on aquatic species at risk.

Departmental contact

Julie Stewart
Director, Species at Risk, Program Management
Telephone:  613-949-7524
Fax:  613-990-4810
E-mail:  julie.stewart@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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