The Government of Canada boosts efforts to protect Aquatic Species at Risk

Harbour Seal

Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced that nine more aquatic species will receive protection under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). These species to be listed, for the first time, under SARA include five freshwater fishes, two marine mammals, one sea turtle and one mollusc.

In addition, the St Lawrence Estuary population of Beluga whale will be reclassified from Threatened to Endangered following a reassessment in recent years by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Leatherback Sea Turtle will be separated into two population units – the Atlantic population and the Pacific population. Both will remain listed as Endangered under SARA and ongoing protection and recovery activities will continue.

The species to be protected or reclassified were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on May 3rd 2017.‎

SARA governs actions to prevent the extinction of wildlife species and to secure the necessary actions for the recovery of species at risk.

Decisions to protect species under the Act are based on many considerations including assessments by COSEWIC and other scientific advice, extensive consultations with Canadians, Indigenous groups and industry and after an evaluation of the potential socio-economic impacts on communities.

Not all species identified by COSEWIC are listed under SARA.  Aquatic species can also be conferred protection under the Fisheries Act, the Oceans Act, the Canada National Parks Act, as well as a number of provincial, territorial and municipal legislative tools and other non-legislative tools.‎

Species added to Schedule 1 of SARA:


Marine Mammals



Species Reclassified:

Species divided into two units:

In addition, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and the Yellowmouth Rockfish will receive specific protections under the Fisheries Act.‎

The Aurora Trout was delisted as it has been found to be genetically indistinguishable from the Brook Trout.

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