Big fish needs big help: Canada's most endangered marine fish needs legal protection
Until December 30, 2008, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is consulting with Canadians as to whether to legally protect basking sharks in Canada's Pacific waters under Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA). Basking sharks are the second biggest fish in the world, measuring up to 12 meters. These fish were historically found in British Columbia numbering in the thousands and were once described as being "common" and "abundant" in our waters. Unfortunately the combination of a directed fishery, entanglement in fishing gears, and an eradication program sponsored by the federal government between 1955 and 1969 has largely eliminated this species from our waters. Confirmed sightings of basking sharks in Canada's Pacific waters are presently less than one per year. It is Canada's most endangered marine fish.
Canada has a very poor track record with respect to legally protecting marine fish species under the Species at Risk Act. The case for legally protecting basking shark is so strong that a failure to do so would set a horrible precedent.
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