保育政策「遲到」 加拿大2部長遭控 環團勝訴

摘譯自2014年2月14日ENS加拿大,溫哥華報導;江惟真編譯;蔡麗伶審校

加拿大2位內閣部長拖延瀕危物種的復育政策多年,非營利法律事務所Ecojustice代表5個環團進行訴訟。聯邦法院14日宣判,加拿大環境部長和漁業海洋部長拖延復育政策的行為已經違法環團獲得勝訴

太平洋座頭鯨。(圖:Pierre Lesage)

延宕制定保育政策 加拿大2部長遭起訴

法官Anne Mactavish宣判,環境部長和漁業海洋部長「未依法定時限準備和發表(訴訟內容之4種保育物種的)復育政策」,這4個物種包括太平洋座頭鯨、尼查科白鱘(Nechako white sturgeon)、班海雀(marbled murrelet)與南方北美馴鹿(southern mountain caribou)。

這4種瀕危物種的生存受到「北方門戶」油管計畫(Northern Gateway pipeline)以及其運輸路線的威脅。Ecojustice的律師指出,聯邦政府的拖延讓瀕危物種的處境雪上加霜,生存困難,遲遲等不到應得的保護。

大衛鈴木基金會(David Suzuki Foundation)、加拿大綠色和平組織(Greenpeace Canada)、卑詩塞拉俱樂部(Sierra Club B.C.)、荒野委員會(Wilderness Committee)與自然視野組織(Wildsight)等5個環團2012年提起訴訟,指控加拿大聯邦政府違反《瀕危物種法》,延宕4種保育物種的復育政策制定多年。

復育政策超時3年 仍有167種待提出

Mactavish指出,相關內閣在環團提出訴訟後才提出復育政策。2012年9月環團提出訴訟時,4種瀕危物種的最終復育政策起碼已經超出時限3年。

判決書中寫道:「《瀕危物種法》的目的在保護加拿大有生存風險的野生動物。如主訴者所述,許多物種正在與時間賽跑,棲息地壓力升高,生存很可能受到威脅...《瀕危物種法》訂定的復育政策制定時限乃國會之決議,為求在迫切需要時能及時保護瀕危物種。」

「此外,依照被告的承認書內容,仍有167個瀕危物種的復育政策尚未提出。顯見本案的延宕僅僅是冰山一角,只是龐大問題結構中的一小部分。」Mactavish寫道。

大衛鈴木基金會資深研究科學家Scott Wallace說,「這是一個清楚果斷的判決,除本次訴訟提及的4個物種外,加拿大還有超過160種瀕危物種仍在等待復育政策。」環團更指出,雖然座頭鯨的復育政策已經提出最終報告,也包含了所需相關資訊,卻沒能被國家能源局的「北方門戶」聯合審查小組所接受。

根據判決,法院將監督政府的保育政策處理進度,確保在時限內制定完成。

Canadian Groups Win At-Risk Species Protection Case
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, February 14, 2014 (ENS)

The Canadian Federal Court ruled today that two Cabinet ministers acted unlawfully in delaying for several years the production of recovery strategies for four at-risk species threatened by industrial development, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.

Brought by five environmental groups – the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee and Wildsight – the lawsuit challenged the federal government’s multi-year delays in producing recovery strategies for species listed under the Species at Risk Act of 2002.

Lawyers for the nonprofit law firm Ecojustice represented the five groups in court. They argued that the federal government’s chronic delays have forced species already struggling to survive to wait even longer for the protection they need.

Pacific humpback whale breaches in British Columbia waters off Haida Gwaii / Queen Charlotte Islands. (Photo by Dave Car courtesy Langara Fishing Adventures)

Justice Anne Mactavish declared that the Minister of Environment and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans “did not comply with the statutory timelines for the preparation and publication of recovery strategies” for the four species at issue in this lawsuit: the Pacific humpback whale, the Nechako white sturgeon, the Marbled murrelet and the Southern mountain caribou.

Justice Mactavish wrote, “To state the obvious, the Species at Risk Act was enacted because some wildlife species in Canada are at risk. As the applicants note, many are in a race against the clock as increased pressure is put on their critical habitat, and their ultimate survival may be at stake…”

“The timelines contained in the Act reflect the clearly articulated will of Parliament that recovery strategies be developed for species at risk in a timely fashion, recognizing that there is indeed urgency in these matters,” she wrote.

Justice Mactavish noted that the ministers have now propsed the required recovery strategies but only after the groups filed their lawsuit. The final recovery strategies for the four species at issue in this case were at least three years overdue when the lawsuit was filed in September 2012.

“It is, moreover, apparent that the delay encountered in these four cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” she wrote. “This is clearly an enormous systemic problem within the relevant Ministries, given the respondents’ acknowledgement that there remain some 167 species at risk for which recovery strategies have not yet been developed.”

Scott Wallace, senior research scientist at the David Suzuki Foundation, said, “This is a clear decision, not just for the four species at issue in this lawsuit, but for the more than 160 at-risk species in Canada that still await the release of their recovery strategies.”

While the final recovery strategy for the humpback whale has since been posted, it was not taken into account by the National Energy Board’s Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel, even though it contains relevant information the panel should have considered in its final report, the groups point out.

Following this ruling, the Court will oversee the government process to ensure the final recovery strategies are produced in a timely fashion.

※ 全文及圖片詳見:ENS

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