Cablegate: Goc Federal Role in the Battle Against Alien Invasive

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

211246Z Aug 03












E.O. 12958: N/A



1. An effective Canadian plan to deal with Alien Invasive Species
(AIS) will require close coordination between provincial and
federal governments, as well as renewed accountability and
collaboration between federal government departments. This cable
outlines the federal-provincial jurisdiction and federal
departmental mandates and roles. At the federal level, a variety
of legislative instruments are already in place that can be
employed to address AIS; and federal government departments have,
in their annual business plans, publicly stated their commitment
to dealing with AIS problems. We expect these existing federal
tools will be used more actively in the near term as GOC
departments seek to demonstrate to the incoming Prime Minister
that they are serious about AIS, and as a consequence gain
support for the nascent National Invasive Species Management and
Policy Framework (reftel). END SUMMARY.


2. In an October 2002 Report, the Canadian Commissioner of the
Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) devoted an entire
chapter to the pressing issue of alien invasive species (AIS).
The report noted that AIS are the 2nd leading cause of
biodiversity loss in Canada (after habitat destruction) and
inflict billions of dollars of damage to the economy every year.
In 1992, Canada signed the United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity, which included a pledge to prevent and/or
control AIS. According to the Commissioner's report, however,
there has been no effective GOC action on AIS. Indeed, the report
found that, despite increasing numbers of invasive species
entering Canada and their growing destructive influence, federal
government efforts to deal with this issue remain in disarray,
with "no clear understanding... who will do what to respond."

Federal-Provincial Jurisdictional Split

3. Invasive species involve an expansive category of environmental
responsibilities apportioned between the various levels of
government in Canada. The federal and provincial governments
share jurisdiction for the protection of the environment
according to the distribution of their legislative powers as
described in the Canadian Constitution. For example, federal
agencies such as Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries
and Oceans (DFO) have authority on environmental issues relating
to: inter-provincial and international transportation and
communication; navigation and shipping; and sea coast and inland
fisheries. On the other hand, management of public lands and
wildlife, considered "natural resources," come under provincial
jurisdiction and responsibilities. On some issues, such as
agriculture, the Canadian Constitution gives concurrent
jurisdiction to Ottawa and the provinces.

4. Clearly, for a coordinated nationwide approach to AIS, both the
federal and provincial levels of government must be involved.
However, the federal agencies usually have a role to play
whenever provincial borders are crossed; thus the federal
agencies are best positioned to take the lead in coordinating an
overarching national plan. The focus of this cable is,
therefore, on describing the mandates and activities of key
federal departments with a stake in the AIS issue. We intend to
provide a description of provincial activities and
responsibilities in future reporting on this issue.

Environment Canada

5. Environment Canada (EC) ( is the coordinating federa
department in the development of a national invasive species
strategy. The Department of the Environment Act establishes EC's
authority over "all matters relating to the preservation and
enhancement of the quality of the natural environment," making it
the natural choice to play a central role in any AIS effort.
The mandate includes "the enforcement of rules and regulations
arising from the advice of the International Joint Commission
relating to boundary waters" and entitles EC to deal with
questions arising between the US and Canada related to
environmental quality.

6. Within EC, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) handles the
federal government's responsibilities on wildlife issues,
including protecting nationally important wildlife habitat
and conducting scientific research. Of key significance,
the CWS, with the assistance of other federal departments
and provincial and territorial wildlife agencies,
administers the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and
Regulation of Inter-provincial and International Trade Act
(WAPPRIITA). WAPPRIITA regulates the movement of wild
species to and from Canada and within its provinces and
territories in order to "protect Canadian ecosystems from
the introduction of harmful wild species." According to
Robert McLean, Acting Director General, Conservation
Strategies Directorate of EC, WAPPRIITA was designed
expressly for the purpose of allowing the government to
identify and place on a "prohibited" import list any species
that could be invasive if it were to establish itself in
Canada. Indeed, the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans (SCOFO) has recommended that grass,
bighead, silver and black carp and any other aquatic alien
species deemed harmful to Canadian wildlife or ecosystems be
immediately listed in Schedule II (the prohibited list) of
the WAPPRITTA regulations in order to prohibit their
importation into Canada in a live state.

7. Environment Canada also administers the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act (CEPA) that provides a safety net for
government action on AIS. The Act provides the federal
cabinet the authority, subject to advice from the Federal-
Provincial Environment Ministers' Council, to regulate
"toxic substances". Under the Act a "substance" is "any
distinguishable kind of organic or inorganic matter, whether
animate or inanimate;" and "a substance is toxic if it is
entering or may enter the environment.under
conditions.having, or that may have an immediate or long-
term harmful effect on the environment.constituting.a danger
to the environment on which human life human
life or health."

Transport Canada

8. Transport Canada (TC) ( works to maintain a Canadian
transportation system that, among other things, is
environmentally friendly. TC's Environmental Protection and
Sustainable Development efforts focus on ensuring the
department's compliance with applicable environmental laws and
regulations. They are also directed to the need for TC to assess
and address the impact its operations have on the environment.
TC's environmental impact would include the risk of importing AIS
along human and cargo transportation pathways. Currently TC's
main effort related to AIS concerns the arrival of AIS in ships'
ballast water (BW). BW is internationally recognized as one of
the most pernicious pathways for aquatic AIS and is presumed
responsible for the presence of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes,
one of the most well known cases of an invasive species in
Canada. TC has "the authority to regulate the control and
management of ballast water" in Canadian waters under the latest
series of amendments made in 1998 to the Canadian Shipping Act.

9. According to the 2002 assessment by the CESD, however, TC, despite
having a clear statutory mandate, "does not regulate ballast
water discharges; nor does it monitor or report on compliance
with existing guidelines." The CESD also noted that "Canada
relies exclusively on US inspection and enforcement" of BW
practices in the Great Lakes and that "there is no official
arrangement between Transport Canada and the US authorities to co-
operate on inspection or enforcement or to exchange information."
Furthermore, the report points out that TC does not intend to
apply planned mandatory BW regulations from its sustainable
development strategy to Canada's coasts, leaving some areas open
to new AIS. TC has responded to the CESD criticisms by stating
that it relies on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
"to identify criteria that could form the basis of an effective
ballast water regulation" and that these criteria have not yet
been forthcoming.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans

10. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) (
is charged with the support of economic, ecological, and
scientific interests in Canadian oceans and inland waters. DFO's
Fish Habitat Management Program "plays a pivotal role in the
conservation and protection of fish habitat in Canada" supported
by its enforcement of the related provisions in the Fisheries
Act. The Fisheries Act, Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, and
Fish Inspection Act could enable DFO to prohibit and monitor the
possession or release into the wild of potentially harmful
aquatic AIS. The House of Commons SCOFO determined in its May
2003 report on aquatic AIS that DFO "has the jurisdiction and the
legislative authority under section 43 of the Fisheries Act to
ban the sale of... potentially invasive species of fish."
COMMENT: This recommendation may seem redundant in the face of
WAPPRIITA's Schedule II list of potentially harmful species
illegal to import. It appears, however, that DFO, under the
Fisheries Act, can prohibit the sale of these fish species
anywhere in the country, regardless of their movement into, out
of, or within Canada. END COMMENT.

11. In its response to the CESD Report of April 2002, DFO committed
to "take the lead role with respect to the portion of the
national action plan that deals with aquatic invasive species."
It expects to have defined science priorities for researching and
addressing the threat of aquatic AIS by fall 2003. It remains to
be seen how ballast water management fits in to these DFO
priorities. It told the CESD: "it is not responsible for
developing science-based criteria that could form the basis of a
ballast water regulation. This, of course, contradicts TC's
position (para. 9) and illustrates the challenges of overlapping
jurisdictions and responsibilities.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------------
Canadian Food Inspection Agency & Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
--------------------------------------------- ---------------------
12. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
(, which reports to the Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-Food, conducts all Canadian federal food,
animal, and plant health inspection programs. It committed to
addressing the threat of invasive species in its 2000 plan for a
national import strategy and testifies to continued collaboration
with other federal agencies on AIS in its 2003-2008 Corporate
Business Plan. Since its inception in 1997, the CFIA has been
the agency of implementation for some of Agriculture and Agri-
Food Canada's policies and laws, including the Plant Protection
Act and the Seeds Act (see paras 13 and 14).

13. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) (, as well
as the provincial agricultural ministries, have been conducting
operations against AIS in one form or another for decades.
Maintaining environmental health in conjunction with agricultural
activity is part of AAFC's mandate. Its Agricultural Policy
Framework, developed in cooperation with provincial ministries of
agriculture, recognizes the need to preserve Canadian
biodiversity. A Canadian Wildlife Service report (1993) on
invasive plant species described the federal Seeds Act
(administered then by AAFC but now by the CFIA) to have "minimal
utility" for AIS control efforts, instead acting as a weak method
of prevention. (The report saw promise, however, in retooling
the Provincial Weed Acts to improve efforts to prevent, control,
or eradicate invasive species in Canada, via modifications to
these Acts to update and expand the list of target species,
enlarge the area of the laws' application, and increase
administrative resources for monitoring and enforcement.)

14. According to the Summary of Environmental Law in North America
prepared for the North American Commission for Environmental
Cooperation (, the Plant Protection Act (PPA),
administered by the CFIA, is the most comprehensive piece of
Canadian federal legislation that is relevant to controlling and
combating AIS. The PPA is designed to protect the agricultural
and forestry sectors of the Canadian economy from pests. Through
this Act, the CFIA can potentially prevent the importation and
spread of AIS and control or eradicate established pest
infestations. It gives CFIA the authority to conduct
inspections, searches, and seizures of materials suspected of
harboring AIS. Except as permitted under the PPA's regulations,
"no person shall move, grow, raise, culture, or produce any thing
that there are reasonable grounds to believe is a pest, that is
or could be infected with a pest or that constitutes or could
constitute a biological obstacle to the control of a pest."
COMMENT: The AAFC, CFIA, and PPA are concerned primarily with
the safeguarding of Canadian agricultural interests against pests
of all types. Nevertheless, many AIS are included among these
harmful pests and the language of the PPA allows for
comprehensive measures to be put into place to protect against
importing new AIS and to control the spread of established AIS.
The umbrella the PPA sets up to protect certain economic
interests can shelter other interests, both economical and
environmental, against the harmful influence of AIS. End comment.

Canadian Forest Service

15. Canada is home to 10% of Earth's forests, which shelter about 2/
of plant and animal species in Canada. The Canadian Forest
Service (CFS) (, part of Natural
Resources Canada, has federal responsibility for the state of
Canada's forests and it recognizes the increasing threat of AIS.
The Forestry Act is the legal basis for CFS, through the mandate
of the Minister of Natural Resources, to conduct "research
relating to the protection, management and utilization of the
forest resources of Canada" and to "establish and maintain
laboratories and other necessary facilities for those purposes."
One goal of the CFS's action plan "Biodiversity in the Forests"
is "to further the understanding of the impacts of forest
management... such as the introduction of exotic tree species"
and it identifies exotic pest species as a "key biodiversity
issue." NOTE: The CFS and Natural Resources Canada are absent
from most of the major documents detailing the GOC efforts on
AIS. While the Canadian Council of Forestry Ministers is playing
a role in the development of the national plan, the CFS does not
appear to have a central role in a national AIS strategy. Its
mandate in this matter appears to focus on research efforts
concerning the measure of biodiversity and taxonomy issues. The
CFS publication of "Alien Invaders in Canada's Waters, Wetlands,
and Forests" in the fall of 2002 provides a useful comprehensive
overview of AIS in Canada including invasion pathways, affected
sectors, management and control efforts, and national and
international collaboration on AIS, information on the
publication is available at the CFS website noted above. END


16. Despite the absence of a comprehensive act or law addressing AIS
federal GOC agencies can effectively employ a number of
legislative tools in their efforts to curb environmental, social
and economic threats posed by invasive species. The Plant
Protection Act (PPA), in place since 1990, provides a general
framework for actions against exotic pest species, including the
establishment of inspection facilities, checkpoints, and the
authority of the inspectors to enforce regulations. The PPA's
broad focus lays the foundations for follow-up acts, such as
WAPPRIITA in 1992, to reinforce and further define efforts to
control AIS. DFO and Transport Canada have the mandate and the
resources to act quickly to protect against aquatic AIS under
such legislation as the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Shipping
Act. As documented in the SCOFO and CESD reports, explicit
action can be taken now to fight AIS, if these federal agencies
have the necessary will and can commit needed resources to the
task, as well as improve their level of cooperation. GOC
officials focusing on AIS know that their agencies must use these
existing tools expeditiously and effectively to gain credibility
for the nascent National Invasive Species Management and Policy
Framework (reftel). That "national strategy" is, in turn, an
essential first step for Canada in its progress toward a North
American strategy on AIS.


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