Ottawa Takes Action To Protect Aquatic Species

Conservation work in a Halton waterway. Pic: Minister Jordan/Twitter

Ottawa: The federal government has announced $52.3 million in special funding under the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (the Nature Fund).

This funding is supporting 49 multi-year projects across Canada, some of which are already underway.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, said on November 25: “The health of our marine and freshwater environments and the wildlife they sustain are critical to our country’s culture, well-being, and economies.

Yet some of the species that find their home in the waters, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and marshes throughout the country are at risk due to climate change, habitat loss and other factors. The Government of Canada is taking action not only to protect these species, but also to rebuild their populations.”

Through this fund, established under the Nature Legacy initiative, the Government of Canada is helping to build a culture of conservation that empowers Canadian organizations to work together to protect our natural environments. This fund is taking an ecosystem approach to restoring and protecting aquatic species.

Instead of targeting specific species, these projects aim to improve a priority place or address a priority threat. This broader approach looks at improving the entire ecosystem.

DFO selected key priority areas across Canada based on a number of factors, including the number of aquatic species at risk; the severity and significance of threats; and the potential for multispecies and ecosystem benefits.

The Nature Fund is targeting areas where there is most potential to provide a real and lasting impact on species recovery.

The Government established the $1.3 billion Nature Legacy Initiative in Budget 2018. The five-year, $55 million Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk supports a new approach to the conservation of aquatic species through investments.

Jordan added; “With nearly 2 million lakes, endless connected waterways, and the longest coastline in the world, Canada is home to countless marine and freshwater species and habitats.”

• Projects funded under the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk focus on two marine priority threats and seven priority areas.

• The marine threats are:
◦ Fishing interactions (includes entanglement and bycatch of aquatic species at risk)
◦ Physical and acoustic disturbance (includes vessel collisions and marine noise)

• The seven priority areas are:
◦ Fraser and Columbia Watersheds Priority Area (BC)
◦ Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes Priority Area (Alberta)
◦ Southern Prairies Priority Area (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
◦ Lower Great Lakes Watershed Priority Area (Ontario)
◦ St. Lawrence Lowlands Priority Area (Quebec)
◦ Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Rivers Priority Area (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island)
◦ Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands Watersheds Area (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick)