Canadian Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development’s Report Reveals Inadequate Measures in Protecting Canadian Ecosystems

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Released on April 2, 2019, the Spring Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development relays some troubling information. The reports include the effectiveness of Canada’s efforts to combat invasive aquatic species, fossil fuel subsidies, and protecting fish from mining effluent. All of these issues are immensely significant when dealing with the Canada’s environment and biodiversity- such as aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels and green crabs competing with native species for resources, how limiting the liquid waste of mining efforts affects local aquatic environments and fish, as well as dealing with wasteful fossil fuel consumption which may undermine climate change efforts, along with Canada’s G20 commitment by 2025. Overall, the report states that while Environment and Climate Change Canada has taken steps to combat some of these pressing issues, most of the measures are yet to succeed.

Some of the more positive findings are with Fisheries and Oceans Canada meeting the requirements to protect fish and their habitat from mining effluent and enforcing action in addressing non-compliance with requirements related to mining effluent. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has also taken effective initiatives in preventing Asian carp from establishing a population in the Great Lakes, which have been wreaking havoc on American aquatic ecosystems since the 1980’s.

However, there seemed to be a certain level of significant shortcomings in training and equipping fishery officers and border service officers in dealing with invasive aquatic species. Resultantly, the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations were not adequately enforced in preventing other species such as zebra mussels, green crabs, and tunicates from establishing a population in Canadian waters. Fisheries and Oceans Canada had not determined which species and pathways posed the greatest threat to Canada’s environments and economy, and which species were the most important to regulate. Moreover, there was inefficient monitoring of non-metal mining operations as well. The report also revealed that Fisheries and Oceans Canada must improve monitoring of mining companies’ plans to compensate for loss of fish and their habitat to ensure these plans were carried out.

Furthermore, it was found that the Department of Finance Canada’s assessments to identify inefficient tax subsidies for fossil fuels were incomplete, as they were not based on reliable and relevant information. The Department of Finance Canada could not satisfactorily explain how a tax subsidy on fossil fuels would be inefficient, as the assessment focused primarily on fiscal and economical considerations and did not consider the environmental stability, economic, and social effects in subsidising the fossil fuel sector in the long run.

While Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and, Environment and Climate Change Canada has each taken some of the necessary steps to reducing the damage tat human activities have inflicted on the environment, it’s clearly visible there is still a lot of work to do before these agencies can be considered truly effective in tackling the issues facing Canada’s ecosystems.

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