OUR VIEW: A whale of a decision

We say: Feds’ downgrade of humpback whales a mixed blessing

It’s not often a good news story turns out to be a bad news story.

Such appears to be the case with the humpback whale. Earlier this week, the federal government announced it intended to downgrade the status of the humpback whale from threatened to species of concern. That’s good news.

The north Pacific population of humpback whales was listed as threatened in 1985. Given the Conservative government’s apparent dislike for anything that contributes to the preservation of the natural world, the initial knee-jerk reaction was to view the downgrading of the humpback’s status with cynicism.

But the government’s decision to downgrade the humpback whale’s status came on the recommendation of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. COSEWIC, made up of experts, including university researchers and biologists from provincial and federal agencies, made the determination after considering evidence from extensive population monitoring over the last several decades.

Downgrading the status of the humpback means time and money can be applied to helping other species recover.

But interest groups, such as the Living Oceans Society, view the government’s decision as just another stone on the highway to giving the Northern Gateway pipeline the green light.

A cynical view, but given the haste exhibited by the federal government in downgrading the humpback, the view has gained traction.  That’s bad news.

The only way the federal government can alleviate that cynicism is to exhibit similar haste when COSEWIC recommends the humpback whale should once again be placed on the list of threatened species.

A penny saved isn’t always a penny earned.

– Black Press