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。
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.