Fish recovery plan sets a precedent in Canada

For the first time, Canadian officials have released a recovery plan for an endangered species that includes proposed rules affecting privately held land. For a country recently criticized for its commitment to protecting endangered species, this is an important step.

The species in question is a tiny minnow, the Nooksack dace, which exists in just four streams near Vancouver, and has lost much of its habitat over the last 40 years due to commercial development.

The recovery plan apparently only came about because three conservation groups filed a lawsuit seeking the establishment of critical habitat for the Nooksack dace. Critical habitat is required under Canada's Species at Risk act, but it seems that only 18 of the country's 400 endangered species have received any critical habitat designations.

We'll have to see how Canadian landowners respond to this. Last year, some landowners promised "civil disobedience" if their property rights were infringed upon by endangered-species protections.

Meanwhile, even this article from the Globe and Mail seems to embody Canada's ambivalent feelings about endangered species. It calls the Nooksack dace "obscure" and "homely" and the critical habitat designation an "unusual precedent." Still, the article points out that this is good news for the rare fish, and possibly for all of Canada's endangered species.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.