PEI

At-risk species need legal protection, says P.E.I. Official Opposition

The Official Opposition is calling on the provincial government to establish an advisory committee immediately to monitor at-risk species on P.E.I.

P.E.I. the only province in Atlantic region without laws protecting at-risk species

The piping plover is one of the at-risk species listed in a report presented to a legislative standing committee Thursday. (Steven McGrath/Nova Scotia Nature Trust)

The Official Opposition is calling on the provincial government to establish an advisory committee immediately to monitor at-risk species on P.E.I.

The Island is the only province in Atlantic Canada without its own stand-alone laws to specifically protect at-risk species.

While the Wildlife Conservation Act has been in place since 1993, Green Party MLA Hannah Bell said more should be done.

"One of the things that could happen right away is the establishment of the recommended advisory committee, and that includes people, experts," she said.

"What is really important with that is you have input from the community and it happens in a transparent public space."

Charlottetown MLA Hannah Bell says the government can use the existing Wildlife Protection Act to craft new stand-alone laws to protect at-risk species. (Tony Davis/CBC)

East Coast Environmental Law presented a report that evaluated the province's ability to protect at-risk species during a legislative committee meeting on Thursday.

The report provided recommendations for the government to better help species from extinction, which included the establishment of an advisory committee.

A sign at Cavendish Beach in P.E.I. National Park highlights the piping plover and its at-risk status. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

The province did appoint a Species at Risk Advisory Committee in 2003 to help protect endangered, threatened and vulnerable species on the Island.

However, Tina Northrup of East Coast Environmental Law said: "Our understanding is that for reasons unknown it eventually became inactive or defunct and it has not been operating since."

In a statement to CBC News, the Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action said there are plans to add species-at-risk protection legislation to supplement current measures on P.E.I.

It also said there is interest in establishing an advisory committee, and that officials from the department will be presenting the topic with more details to the legislative committee and will receive feedback on how best to proceed.

With files from Anthony Davis

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