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October 2, 2013

Essay on Marine Conservation Laws

Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has developed a global strategy for the conservation of living resources for sustainable development (1). This strategy was based on three main objectives: maintaining essential ecological processes and life support systems; preservation of genetic diversity; sustainable use of species and ecosystems.

A few years later, the World Commission on Environment and Development, better known as the Brundtland Commission, was known for the concept of sustainable development in a report (2) that will undoubtedly be the element that caused the international community to collectively commit to increase the protection of the environment and natural resources. While many countries supported the idea of
​​sustainable development and formulating policies to ensure its implementation, they have tended to give less attention to the conservation of species and their habitats. However, the Brundtland Report, as the World Conservation Strategy in 1980, had established that the protection of species and ecosystems is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.

In 1992, the United Nations held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a major conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which was attended by leaders from 105 countries. In addition to the development of the "Agenda 21" and the adoption of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the "Earth Summit" has put the conservation of biodiversity at the forefront of its deliberations and adopted the International Convention on Biological Diversity. A year after the Rio Summit, 168 countries had signed the Convention and has since been ratified by 187 countries, and Canada was the first to do so. Under the Convention, which entered into force December 29, 1999, signatory countries undertake to protect species and habitats threatened with extinction. In fact, paragraph 8k) provides that each signatory countries to "develop or maintain in force the laws and other regulations needed to protect threatened species and populations".

The first requirement of U.S. law is to designate species as threatened or endangered. The majority of species, subspecies and distinct populations are included in this process, with the exception of insects, the law also protects the eggs and other stages of development. The list of designated species is established on the basis of best available scientific information and must be revised every five years. In September 1999, the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States had registered 1197 species of plants and animals on the list of species threatened or endangered.

Secondly, U.S. law requires the development of a recovery plan for each endangered species that appear on the list. The goal of the recovery plan is to promote the conservation and survival of an endangered species, so this species will no longer need protection. However, there are not always all species who benefit from such a plan, even today. In the early 1980s, a recovery plan had been drawn up for only 10 half of the 425 species listed at that time. Various measures implemented after 1988, including increased funding, has enabled a greater number of species to benefit from a recovery plan. In 2001, 1,254 species were listed as threatened or endangered, and in May 2003, they were covered by one or other of 1,102 recovery plans.

U.S. law also requires designation of critical habitat of an endangered species. These specific areas within the geographical distribution of the species that are essential to the conservation of this and that control layout or special protection. Currently, they are not all endangered species that have been designated critical habitat. Note that changes to the Endangered Species Act in 1978 have made it no longer required to designate critical habitat of a species if the costs associated with the protection of this habitat outweigh the benefits for the species, provided that this does not extinguish it. According to the National Wildlife Federation, this change has enabled the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States to exclude 1.8 million acres of critical habitat for the spotted owl in the Northwest states, because the loss jobs and reducing federal payments exceeded the benefits associated with protection of the species.

The bans imposed by U.S. law to disturb endangered species apply both on private land than on public lands. Thus, any private landowner must obtain a permit to use land where individuals belonging to species at risk, the applicant is granted such a permit if it has a satisfactory conservation plan that minimizes the impact harmful actions. Finally, the Endangered Species Act provides a mechanism for reviewing all federal projects that could disturb the critical habitat of endangered species. Except in very rare exceptions - the case of the spotted owl and the snail darter - that provision did not prevent the implementation of projects after the screening, but rather allowed to make changes and measures mitigation necessary to protect endangered species.

  For several years, the Endangered Species Act is the subject of lively discussions. Primarily, the industry lobbyists oppose it because they see it as an obstacle to development, while conservationist lobbies defend by claiming that it has prevented the extinction of the Bald Eagle (the U.S. emblem ) and the Grizzly Bear, and a few other lesser known species. This situation has undoubtedly worsened the conflict between the opponents of this law and its defenders is the injunction obtained by American environmentalists in the mid-1980s about the habitat of the spotted owl. This injunction prohibits the operation for years of federal forests in the PNW.

The defenders of the Act consider that it was an essential and effective tool against extinction of species, since over 40 per 100 species listed have stabilized or increased their population. Note that only 69 projects have been canceled on 145,000 federal actions reviewed under this law between 1979 and 1992.

   It indicates that few species have been delisted because subsequent studies showed they were stronger than expected.  They argue that sub-species and geographically isolated species represent only 20 per 100 of the total species list, but their ecological role is often important in the ecosystem to which they belong (57).

Another criticism of U.S. law is the emphasis on the protection of species rather than habitats.
Although many scientists agree on the need to protect both species and habitats, several commenters believe that we have placed too much emphasis on individual species and must instead focus on habitats or ecosystems. Thus, protecting an ecosystem rather than a particular species, it also protects other species, including those who have not yet been designated. For example, establishing a reserve system to protect old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, the habitat of the spotted owl, we simultaneously protect 280 species of plants and animals in this ecosystem.

Unanimity seems easier to make about the need to make changes to the Endangered Species Act in respect of private land. Many people believe that the government should give more support and better incentives to owners of private land where there are endangered species. They suggest, for example, entitle them to the programs already available to farmers, ranchers and small farmers to protect wetlands, forests, soils and water quality (59).

A number of legislative initiatives were introduced during the 106th Congress, most of them concerning the issues raised above. Specifically, the proposals made in the House of Representatives or the Senate relate to the designation of critical habitat and compensation for landowners, funding conservation measures of species conservation agreements, to reduction of the technical nature of the Endangered Species Act, etc.. However, the legislative proposal by Representative Don Young (HR 3160), filed in October 1999 and referred to the Resources Committee, was a major reform of this law and was thus more in line with the five-year revaluation required by current law.


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