OTTAWA – Dyna Tuytel, an Ecojustice lawyer, issued the following statement in response to Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s fall report on marine mammals:

“Years of delays and gaps in the government’s approach to implementing the Species at Risk Act have left endangered marine mammals, including Southern Resident killer whales and North Atlantic Right Whales, at risk.

Today’s report highlights a pattern of failures to take basic steps, such as publishing recovery strategies and action plans for endangered Southern Resident killer whales and other species.

In the time since the Southern Residents were first listed under SARA in 2003, we have seen the impact of these lags in the decline of the population. Together with our partners, Ecojustice has been forced to apply pressure on the government to meet its responsibilities under the law. Even today, fifteen years later, the government has only begun to introduce partial, inadequate measures to protect these whales.

As a result, Ecojustice and its partners were recently forced to file a case against the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister of Environment and Climate Change, fighting for them to recommend emergency protections for the Southern Residents under SARA.

We urge the government to take the commissioner’s findings into account and work to meet its legal responsibilities to protect at-risk species in a timely manner.”