Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29)
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Act current to 2023-03-06 and last amended on 2023-02-03. Previous Versions
Species at Risk Act
S.C. 2002, c. 29
Assented to 2002-12-12
An Act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada
Canada’s natural heritage is an integral part of our national identity and history,
wildlife, in all its forms, has value in and of itself and is valued by Canadians for aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, educational, historical, economic, medical, ecological and scientific reasons,
Canadian wildlife species and ecosystems are also part of the world’s heritage and the Government of Canada has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity,
providing legal protection for species at risk will complement existing legislation and will, in part, meet Canada’s commitments under that Convention,
the Government of Canada is committed to conserving biological diversity and to the principle that, if there are threats of serious or irreversible damage to a wildlife species, cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for a lack of full scientific certainty,
responsibility for the conservation of wildlife in Canada is shared among the governments in this country and that it is important for them to work cooperatively to pursue the establishment of complementary legislation and programs for the protection and recovery of species at risk in Canada,
it is important that there be cooperation between the governments in this country to maintain and strengthen national standards of environmental conservation and that the Government of Canada is committed to the principles set out in intergovernmental agreements respecting environmental conservation,
the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council is to provide national leadership for the protection of species at risk, including the provision of general direction to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in respect of that Committee’s activities and general directions in respect of the development, coordination and implementation of recovery efforts,
the roles of the aboriginal peoples of Canada and of wildlife management boards established under land claims agreements in the conservation of wildlife in this country are essential,
all Canadians have a role to play in the conservation of wildlife in this country, including the prevention of wildlife species from becoming extirpated or extinct,
there will be circumstances under which the cost of conserving species at risk should be shared,
the conservation efforts of individual Canadians and communities should be encouraged and supported,
stewardship activities contributing to the conservation of wildlife species and their habitat should be supported to prevent species from becoming at risk,
community knowledge and interests, including socio-economic interests, should be considered in developing and implementing recovery measures,
the traditional knowledge of the aboriginal peoples of Canada should be considered in the assessment of which species may be at risk and in developing and implementing recovery measures,
knowledge of wildlife species and ecosystems is critical to their conservation,
the habitat of species at risk is key to their conservation, and
Canada’s protected areas, especially national parks, are vital to the protection and recovery of species at risk,
NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
Marginal note:Short title
1 This Act may be cited as the Species at Risk Act.
2 (1) The definitions in this subsection apply in this Act.
- action plan
action plan means an action plan included in the public registry under subsection 50(3) and includes any amendment to it included in the public registry under section 52. (plan d’action)
- alternative measures
alternative measures means measures, other than judicial proceedings, that are used to deal with a person who is alleged to have committed an offence. (mesures de rechange)
- aquatic species
aquatic species means a wildlife species that is a fish, as defined in section 2 of the Fisheries Act, or a marine plant, as defined in section 47 of that Act. (espèce aquatique)
- Attorney General
Attorney General means the Attorney General of Canada or, for the purposes of sections 108 to 113, an agent of the Attorney General of Canada. (procureur général)
- Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council
Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council means the Council referred to in subsection 7(1). (Conseil canadien pour la conservation des espèces en péril)
- competent minister
competent minister means
(a) the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency with respect to individuals in or on federal lands administered by that Agency;
(b) the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with respect to aquatic species, other than individuals mentioned in paragraph (a); and
(c) the Minister of the Environment with respect to all other individuals. (ministre compétent)
conveyance means a vehicle, aircraft or water-borne craft or any other contrivance that is used to move persons or goods. (moyen de transport)
COSEWIC means the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada established by section 14. (COSEPAC)
- critical habitat
critical habitat means the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species. (habitat essentiel)
- emergency order
emergency order means an order made under section 80. (décret d’urgence)
- endangered species
endangered species means a wildlife species that is facing imminent extirpation or extinction. (espèce en voie de disparition)
- extirpated species
extirpated species means a wildlife species that no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere in the wild. (espèce disparue du pays)
- federal land
federal land means
(a) land that belongs to Her Majesty in right of Canada, or that Her Majesty in right of Canada has the power to dispose of, and all waters on and airspace above that land;
(b) the internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada; and
(c) reserves and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band under the Indian Act, and all waters on and airspace above those reserves and lands. (territoire domanial)
(a) in respect of aquatic species, spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply, migration and any other areas on which aquatic species depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes, or areas where aquatic species formerly occurred and have the potential to be reintroduced; and
(b) in respect of other wildlife species, the area or type of site where an individual or wildlife species naturally occurs or depends on directly or indirectly in order to carry out its life processes or formerly occurred and has the potential to be reintroduced. (habitat)
individual means an individual of a wildlife species, whether living or dead, at any developmental stage and includes larvae, embryos, eggs, sperm, seeds, pollen, spores and asexual propagules. (individu)
- land claims agreement
land claims agreement means a land claims agreement within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. (accord sur des revendications territoriales)
List means the List of Wildlife Species at Risk set out in Schedule 1. (liste)
listed means listed on the List. (inscrite)
Minister means the Minister of the Environment. (ministre)
offence means an offence under this Act. (infraction)
- provincial minister
provincial minister means any minister of the government of a province who is responsible for the conservation and management of a wildlife species in that province. (ministre provincial)
- public registry
public registry means the registry established under section 120. (registre)
- recovery strategy
recovery strategy means a recovery strategy included in the public registry under subsection 43(2), and includes any amendment to it included in the public registry under section 45. (programme de rétablissement)
residence means a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating. (résidence)
sell includes to offer for sale or lease, have in possession for sale or lease or deliver for sale or lease. (vente)
- species at risk
species at risk means an extirpated, endangered or threatened species or a species of special concern. (espèce en péril)
- species of special concern
species of special concern means a wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats. (espèce préoccupante)
- status report
status report means a report, prepared in accordance with the requirements of regulations made under subsection 21(2), that contains a summary of the best available information on the status of a wildlife species, including scientific knowledge, community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge. (rapport de situation)
- territorial minister
territorial minister means any minister of the government of a territory who is responsible for the conservation and management of a wildlife species in that territory. (ministre territorial)
- threatened species
threatened species means a wildlife species that is likely to become an endangered species if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction. (espèce menacée)
treaty means a treaty within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. (traité)
- wildlife management board
wildlife management board means any board or other body established under a land claims agreement that is authorized by the agreement to perform functions in respect of wildlife species. (conseil de gestion des ressources fauniques)
- wildlife species
wildlife species means a species, subspecies, variety or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and
(a) is native to Canada; or
(b) has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years. (espèce sauvage)
(2) For the purposes of the definition wildlife species in subsection (1), a species, subspecies, variety or geographically or genetically distinct population is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, presumed to have been present in Canada for at least 50 years.
Marginal note:Competent minister
(3) A reference to a competent minister in any provision of this Act is to be read as a reference to the competent minister in respect of the wildlife species, or the individuals of the wildlife species, to which the provision relates.
- 2002, c. 29, ss. 2, 141.1
- 2005, c. 2, s. 14
Marginal note:Aboriginal and treaty rights
3 For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Marginal note:Sedentary living organisms
4 (1) This Act also applies to sedentary living organisms on or under the continental shelf of Canada outside the exclusive economic zone.
Meaning of sedentary
(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), a living organism is sedentary if it is, at the harvestable stage, either immobile on or under the seabed or is unable to move except in constant physical contact with the seabed or subsoil.
Marginal note:Binding on Her Majesty
5 This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province.
6 The purposes of this Act are to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council
7 (1) The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council consists of the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency and ministers of the government of a province or a territory who are responsible for the conservation and management of a wildlife species in that province or territory.
(2) The role of the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council is to
(a) provide general direction on the activities of COSEWIC, the preparation of recovery strategies and the preparation and implementation of action plans; and
(b) coordinate the activities of the various governments represented on the Council relating to the protection of species at risk.
- 2002, c. 29, s. 7
- 2005, c. 2, s. 15
Administration of Act
Marginal note:Responsibility of Minister
8 (1) The Minister is responsible for the administration of this Act, except in so far as this Act gives responsibility to another minister.
(2) The Minister, the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency or the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans may, after consultation with the other two ministers, delegate to any minister of the Crown in right of Canada or of a province or to any person who is employed by the Government of Canada, the government of a province or any other government in Canada any of that Minister’s powers or functions under this Act, relating to its enforcement.
Marginal note:Agreement and reporting obligation
(3) The delegation must be the subject of an agreement between the delegating minister and the delegate and the agreement must provide that the delegate is to prepare an annual report for the delegating minister on the activities undertaken under the agreement. A copy of the agreement must be included in the public registry within 45 days after it is entered into, and a copy of every annual report must be included in the public registry within 45 days after it is received by the delegating minister.
- 2002, c. 29, s. 8
- 2005, c. 2, s. 16
Marginal note:National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk
8.1 The Minister shall establish a Council, to be known as the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk, consisting of six representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada selected by the Minister based upon recommendations from aboriginal organizations that the Minister considers appropriate. The role of the Council is to
(a) advise the Minister on the administration of this Act; and
(b) provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council.
Marginal note:Advisory committees to assist Minister
9 (1) The Minister may, after consultation with the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, establish one or more committees to advise the Minister on the administration of this Act.
Marginal note:Advisory committees to assist Council
(2) The Minister may, after consultation with the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, establish one or more committees to advise the Council on matters related to the Council’s role.
- 2002, c. 29, s. 9
- 2005, c. 2, s. 17
Marginal note:Administrative agreements
10 A competent minister may, after consultation with every other competent minister, enter into an agreement with any government in Canada, organization or wildlife management board with respect to the administration of any provision of this Act for which that competent minister has responsibility, including the preparation and implementation of recovery strategies, action plans and management plans.
Stewardship Action Plan
Marginal note:Stewardship action plan
10.1 The Minister, after consultation with the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, may establish a stewardship action plan that creates incentives and other measures to support voluntary stewardship actions taken by any government in Canada, organization or person. A copy of the stewardship action plan must be included in the public registry.
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