Listing Species Under the Species at Risk Act: Also a Matter of Economics!
Did you know? Socio-economic factors play a role in the process of listing species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
Before deciding whether or not to list a species under SARA, the government is required to assess the potential socio-economic impacts the listing could entail. This requirement stems from the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation which stipulates that any proposal to amend an act must undergo a cost–benefit analysis in accordance with Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat requirements. Economists are tasked with estimating the scope and distribution of costs and benefits associated with listing a species under SARA. More specifically, these economists identify the affected stakeholders and quantify the effects—both positive and negative—that the listing would have on each stakeholder. For example, the economists will quantify the costs that the private sector would need to absorb to comply with SARA requirements, such as costs associated with closing a commercial fishery or with introducing speed reduction measures for vessels.
As for the economic benefits, these can be estimated, for example, by calculating the amount that Canadians would be willing to pay to implement conservation programs for species at risk. These socio-economic analyses help guide the decision-making process with regard to the listing recommendation; they also guide consultations with stakeholders.
Economists are also called upon at the recovery stage of species at risk. Section 49 of the Species at Risk Act states that an action plan must include an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of its implementation. This evaluation must be updated every five years.