Feds removal of humpback whales from at-risk list questioned

A humbpack feeds

By David P. Ball, 24 hours Vancouver
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Humpback whales were removed from Canada’s species-at-risk list Tuesday, a decision some scientists allege was fast-tracked under political pressure just ahead of a federal decision on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

“The timing is just odd,” said Linda Nowlan, World Wide Fund for Nature Canada’s conservation director. “We’re wondering why the federal government is reducing protection now, just as the threats … are poised to skyrocket if (Northern Gateway) is approved this summer.”

The decision to downgrade the species from “threatened” to “special concern” came only four months after the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife upheld its original recommendation. Normally, such decisions take about 10 years, said the WWF.

“Humpback whales present a real problem for Northern Gateway,” said 15-year marine biologist Misty MacDuffee, with Raincoast Conservation Foundation. “I think there was political influence — not based on sound scientific information about threats that are only increasing. As soon as it’s down-listed, you don’t have to protect that critical habitat.”

MacDuffee accused the federal government of “hiding behind” the committee in its push for increased tanker traffic…

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