SOR/2017-86 May 12, 2017
WILD ANIMAL AND PLANT PROTECTION AND REGULATION OF INTERNATIONAL AND INTERPROVINCIAL TRADE ACT
Regulations Amending the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations
P.C. 2017-505 May 12, 2017
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 21 (see footnote a) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (see footnote b), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations.
Regulations Amending the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations
1 (1) Paragraph 5(a) of the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:
- (a) animal means
- (i) any specimen, whether living or dead, of any species of the order Caudata, including any egg, sperm, tissue culture or embryo of such a specimen, and
- (ii) any specimen, whether living or dead, of any species of animal, other than any species of the order Caudata, listed as “fauna” in an appendix to the Convention or that is listed in Schedule II, including any egg, sperm, tissue culture or embryo of such a specimen; and
(2) Paragraph 5(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (a) animal means any specimen, whether living or dead, of any species of animal listed as “fauna” in an appendix to the Convention or listed in Schedule II, and includes any egg, sperm, tissue culture or embryo of any such animal; and
2 (1) The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 5:
5.1 Sections 6, 15 and 17 do not apply in respect of the importation of any animal as defined in subparagraph 5(a)(i), or any part or derivative of such an animal.
(2) Section 5.1 of the Regulations is repealed.
Coming into Force
3 (1) Subsections 1(1) and 2(1) come into force on the day on which these Regulations are registered.
(2) Subsections 1(2) and 2(2) come into force on the first anniversary of the day on which these Regulations are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
A disease-causing fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), originating in Asia, has been devastating populations of native salamanders in European countries. It is thought that trade in salamanders via the pet industry is the primary means through which the disease spread from Asia. If the fungus enters Canadian ecosystems, the impacts on domestic salamanders would likely be severe. While many Asian salamander species have evolved resistance to Bsal, experimental exposure trials reveal that salamanders from other parts of the world, including salamanders that range into Canada, are highly susceptible to infection. (see footnote 2) To date, there is no known case of infection in salamanders in Canada or in the United States (U.S.). The expectation is that Bsal is likely to survive and persist in many parts of Canada, and if introduced would be impossible to eradicate. (see footnote 3)
There are approximately 695 living species of salamanders, some commonly known as newts or mudpuppies, which form the whole order Caudata. (see footnote 4) North America is home to almost half of the world’s salamander species, where they play an important role in the fabric of ecological systems. There are 22 salamander species native to Canada. Seven species have been designated, under the Species at Risk Act, as either endangered, threatened or of special concern. Among the most abundant vertebrates in the forest habitats in which they occur, salamanders play a significant role in nutrient and carbon cycling. They also play a key ecological role as part of the food chain, where they prey heavily on insects and arthropods, including mosquito larvae and ticks. Salamanders are also a prey species for larger predators.
Bsal infects the skin layers of susceptible salamander and newt species and can lead to skin lesions, loss of control of bodily movements, and death. Once introduced, the fungi can spread through direct contact (skin to skin) and environmentally through contact with organic materials such as mud, water and leaf litter. (see footnote 5) It is suspected that Bsal spread from East Asia, where it is endemic, to Western Europe via international trade of amphibians. Canada imports salamanders primarily as pets and for research purposes. It is estimated that almost half of the salamanders imported into Canada originate from affected areas in Europe and Asia. (see footnote 6) Asian species of salamanders can carry Bsal without showing symptoms, making detection at Canada’s ports of entry particularly difficult.
A number of compulsory and voluntary controls on salamander imports have been implemented by other countries, jurisdictions and organizations in order to reduce the risk of spread of disease while the issue is being investigated more thoroughly.
Existing international measures to control salamander imports
In January 2016, the United States adopted trade prohibitions for salamanders under the Lacey Act (see footnote 7). Its approach prohibited the import of any salamander species in a given genus where there was confirmation that at least one species in that genus was a carrier of Bsal (and where there was not countervailing conclusive evidence suggesting that some species within a particular genus are not carriers). Therefore, the United States prohibited the importation of 201 species of salamander, and did not prohibit the import and trade of species within genera for which susceptibility to infection is unknown. The United States recognizes that untested genera may be capable of carrying Bsal, and acknowledges the associated threat to domestic salamander populations, but chose not to broaden their prohibition to untested species.
In Europe, under the Bern Convention, (see footnote 8) a recommendation was adopted in December 2015 to restrict the salamander trade, undertake importation prior to screening, and establish monitoring programs to control the possible further spread of the disease.
Existing domestic voluntary measures to control salamander imports
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC Canada) has adopted a voluntary temporary halt on the importation of the two commonly traded species of salamanders (Cynops orientalis [Firebelly newt] and Pachytriton labiatus [Paddletail newt]) (see footnote 9) that have been implicated in the spread of the disease; however, the scope of the uptake with this voluntary measure is unknown.
The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA)
In Canada, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA), and the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (WAPTR), are used to protect certain species of animals and plants by regulating their international and interprovincial trade.
The objective of the Regulations Amending the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (the Regulations) is to prevent the introduction of the fungal disease, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), into Canadian ecosystems by temporarily prohibiting the importation of salamanders, and provide the Government of Canada with the opportunity to consider longer-term measures to protect Canadian salamanders.
The Regulations prohibit, for a period of one year after the Regulations are registered, the import of all species of the order Caudata, living or dead, including any egg, sperm, tissue culture or embryo of any of those species, unless authorized by a permit. Prohibiting the import of all species of the order Caudata (i.e. all salamander species) is consistent with the precautionary principle, and takes into consideration the limited and evolving understanding of the disease, as well as the enforcement challenges associated with identifying different salamander species at Canada’s numerous ports of entry.
Permits are available for the import of salamanders. Prospective importers are required to submit a permit application to the Department of the Environment. Each permit application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis using the best available information and taking into consideration the purpose of the importation. A policy regarding the issuance of permits has been developed that applies the precautionary principle with the goal of protecting native salamander species. This policy may evolve as information regarding the fungus changes.
No fees are charged for applying for or obtaining a permit. Once applications are submitted the time required for permit decisions depends on the complexity and completeness of the application, and the volume of permit applications being considered at that time, etc.
Benefits and costs
This cost-benefit analysis discusses the incremental impacts of the temporary import ban of all salamanders, from a societal perspective. (see footnote 10) Incremental impacts are defined as the differences between the baseline scenario and the policy scenario.
Under the “baseline scenario,” no new action is taken to prevent the introduction and spread of the Bsal fungus into Canada. Under this scenario, based on scientific evidence and the destructive effects that Bsal has already had in Europe, (see footnote 11) it is reasonable to assume that this disease could devastate susceptible wild salamander populations in Canada and cause irreversible damage.
The “policy scenario” refers to the situation in which a one-year prohibition for the importation of salamanders without a permit under WAPTR is implemented. There would be fewer imported salamanders available for pet stores, research, education, biomedical research, zoological facilities, and veterinary services. Under this scenario, exposure of domestic salamander species to Bsal is unlikely.
A cost-benefit analysis informing a decision about whether to take action to protect a species generally involves three challenges:
- (1) There is uncertainty about whether the effort to facilitate the species’ survival would be successful.
- (2) The benefits of protecting the species are known with less certainty than the costs, making a calculation of probable net benefits difficult due to limited information.
- (3) A decision to protect the species by prohibiting imports could be reversed in the future, if needed. However, a decision against prohibiting imports which results in the loss of one or more of the 22 salamander species native to Canada cannot be reversed.
To reflect these challenges, the cost-benefit analysis attempts to use the best available information and the appropriate economic analytical framework. Although the benefits associated with the continued existence of the species cannot be attributed to the import ban alone, some information about the value of the species overall is provided below for context.
Facilitating the preservation of a given species, like any of the 22 species of native, wild salamander, contributes to overall biodiversity, the maintenance of which is essential for healthy ecosystems. More diverse ecosystems are generally more stable and better able to withstand change, and thus the goods and services they provide to society are also more stable over time.
To describe the benefits of the Regulations, the standard economic approach of total economic value (TEV) will be used to discuss the market and non-market benefits of preserving salamanders. This analysis will discuss indirect use as well as non-use values.
1. Indirect use values
Salamanders that develop burrowing systems underground play an important role in soil dynamics, which is a key function of a healthy ecosystem. By creating underground burrows and using these passages long-term, there are three important ecological effects. The first is a transfer of nutrients, fungi, and other microorganisms from the forest floor to subsurface plant root systems. The second is the nutrients found in their excrements and organic matter which are consumed by bacteria and fungi. The third is the increased dispersion of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide in the soil. (see footnote 12) Salamanders that retreat into underground burrows during disastrous events, such as forest fires and volcanos, may help reset the timelines of the ecosystem recovery in the forest. (see footnote 13), (see footnote 14)
Salamanders keep the ecological balance in ponds as predators by regulating the number of frog tadpoles. (see footnote 15) They also play an important role as prey for species-at-risk like the endangered Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata), (see footnote 16) the endangered Butler’s Gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri), (see footnote 17) and of special concern, the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini). (see footnote 18) Salamanders are a keystone species which balance many different ecosystems due to their position in the food chain. A decrease in their population could result in a substantial change in the population of their predators and prey.
Ecosystem function is driven and maintained by the flow of energy and nutrients among organisms. (see footnote 19) Salamanders are an excellent source of nutrient cycling in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. (see footnote 20) These amphibious creatures are prevalent in wetlands, (see footnote 21) riparian habitats, (see footnote 22) and deciduous forests. (see footnote 23) Salamanders are an important prey for many higher predators in these different habitats, including birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals.
Salamanders can potentially reduce carbon emissions by consuming insects that break down leaf litter and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (see footnote 24), (see footnote 25) One study found that in a hectare of land, a single Ensatina salamander can prevent the release of 200 kg of carbon per year. (see footnote 26) At this rate and if a similar density is assumed across its range, then 72.3 metric tons of carbon could be retained by this one species in a year across its range in Canada. (see footnote 27) This retained carbon would be equivalent to 265.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, roughly what is emitted from burning 31 000 litres of gasoline.
In order to have a monetary measure of the climate change-related impacts expected from the emission of one additional metric ton of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in a year, Environment and Climate Change Canada adopted the social cost of carbon (SCC) in 2011. Using the 2016 SCC value set at $42.85/metric ton of CO2e, to estimate the value of damage avoided due to the continued existence of the Ensatina salamander species alone results in a value up to $11,000 per year. The estimate rises to almost $50,000 per year when the 2016 value of CO2e is set at $176.83/metric ton under a low probability, high impact scenario.
2. Option value
Society often places a value on retaining the option of possible future uses associated with a species. The “option value” of salamanders to Canadians could stem from the preservation of its genetic information that may be used in the future for biological, medicinal, industrial, or other applications. Amphibians have already been recognized as a medicinal source in modern science and traditional folk medicine. For instance, in the last few decades, scientists have been interested in understanding how salamanders regenerate lost limbs. Understanding this biological feat could lead to human organ and/or limb regeneration. (see footnote 28)
3. Existence and bequest value
Beyond the conventional use-values of a species, many people also derive well-being, satisfaction, and perceive benefits simply from knowing that a species still exists (existence value) or will exist in the future (bequest value). These non-use values are considered to be altruistic, but contribute to the welfare of Canadians. Although no quantitative estimates of the existence value of salamanders are available, studies indicate that society does place substantial value on vulnerable species.
The incremental costs to affected businesses and consumers are discussed below.
1. Household pet industry
Pet stores would likely not be eligible for a permit to import salamanders for commercial purposes under the current policy, which is based on the precautionary principle. However, the policy regarding the issuance of permits under the restriction may evolve as information regarding the fungus evolves. This analysis of the costs to the pet trade industry therefore assumes that all commercial imports would cease, thus decreasing the supply of foreign salamanders in the household pet industry. Pet stores would still be able to sell the supply of their current stock of salamanders since salamanders already in the country are unaffected by the import ban.
The most recent data for pet stores and pet supplies stores from Statistics Canada indicates that the average annual revenue from small and medium-sized pet stores in Canada was $586,000 with an average net profit of $21,000 (see footnote 29) (a profit margin of 3.6%).
The appropriate economic approach to calculate the loss incurred by the household pet industry is to calculate how much well-being is lost to consumers and to pet stores. To do this, information on the demand by consumers for salamanders and information on the minimum price the suppliers would accept for salamanders are needed. However, since data for the demand and supply for imported salamanders is not currently available, this analysis will cover the estimated reduced profits of pet stores.
Data on imports of salamanders is often inseparable from imports of other species in Canada. (see footnote 30) Between 2010 and 2014, the United States imported 778 968 salamanders. (see footnote 31) Assuming that salamander demand in Canada is similar to demand in the United States, and taking into consideration that Canada’s population is approximately 11% of the U.S. population, the Department of the Environment estimates that there were approximately 85 000 salamanders imported into Canada over the same period, or approximately 17 000 salamanders per year. Salamanders can range in price from $10 to $250 depending on the species. Pro-rating the percentages of different species imported and their respective prices from U.S. quantities and prices gives a total loss of revenue of up to $300,000 in one year. Assuming a profit margin of 3.6%, lost profit from salamanders would be approximately $11,000 across Canada, in a given year.
It is to be noted that with the decrease in imported salamanders, it is unknown whether salamander breeders will increase the production of domestic salamanders to provide a substitute for the market of imported salamanders, or the extent to which some domestic salamanders and some imported salamanders are similar enough to be substitutable. Also, consumers may substitute salamanders for another type of pet, including other amphibians or even reptiles. These substitutions could fully or partially offset any losses in this industry.
2. Research, educational, biomedical research, and zoological facilities
Research, educational, and biomedical groups and zoological facilities may be affected by the import ban. However, permits could be issued for these purposes. It is assumed that there would be relatively few permit applications received for these purposes, perhaps less than 25 per year, leading to minimal costs associated with permit applications for Canadian research and scientific facilities.
3. Government of Canada
A cost of about $11,000 for compliance promotion is expected in the first year following the coming into force of the Regulations (e.g. fact sheets, letters to stakeholders, presentations at pet trade association conferences and meeting). Costs associated with enforcement activities will depend upon how much intervention at the border will be required (e.g. number of shipments stopped, euthanasia and disposal). It is estimated that the most likely scenario would incur enforcement costs of $441,000. It is difficult to estimate the number of permit applications under the scientific category the Canadian Wildlife Service permitting office of the Department of the Environment will receive while the prohibition against importing salamanders without a permit is in place. The assumption is that the number of applications for scientific and research purposes would be very low (i.e. less than 25 during the year) and the costs of receiving and processing permit requests would be absorbed by the Department of the Environment (i.e. $10,000 in personnel costs). To reflect the most likely scenario to result from the implementation of the Regulations, the preliminary estimate for the costs to the Government is $462,000.
The Regulations would require that individuals wishing to import salamanders seek a permit. Although permit costs associated with most imports for research, education, and biomedical groups and zoological facilities are expected to be incurred by non-businesses, for the purposes of this analysis, it is assumed that all 25 permit applications received in the one year of effect of the Regulations, would be incurred by businesses. These 25 permit applications would require one hour of labour by a scientist with a labour cost of approximately $33 per hour, resulting in administrative burden costs of approximately $825. However, due to the unique and exceptional circumstances of the threat to Canadian salamanders posed by the Bsal fungus, the Regulations are exempt from the application of section 5 of the Red Tape Reduction Act. Consequently, there is no requirement to offset the aforementioned administrative burden costs, and the “One-for-One” Rule therefore does not apply to the Regulations.
Small business lens
Most pet stores in Canada are expected to be small businesses. However, the proposal would result in nationwide cost impacts under $1,000,000 per year, and would not disproportionately impact small businesses. Therefore, the small business lens does not apply to this proposal.
In 2015, the Department of the Environment, in trilateral talks with the United States and Mexico, discussed the value of import restrictions in Canada, to minimize the risk of the disease entering into Canada. General support has been expressed.
Also in 2015, an inter-agency working group of experts from the Department of the Environment, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC), academia, and provinces and territories was established to provide advice on salamander health in Canada with initial focus on communication and prevention. This working group has recommended that Canada restrict importation of all salamander species as a precautionary measure.
Targeted consultations on the potential for urgent trade restrictions were undertaken with key stakeholders through bilateral written communication and teleconferences in November 2016. Other federal government departments (Canada Border Services Agency [the CBSA], Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Parks Canada Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada) expressed general support for the measures. In particular, the CBSA noted support for a ban on all salamander species, citing challenges associated with species identification at the border. The provincial and territorial governments, via the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC), expressed interest in the ban, but indicated neither support nor opposition to the import restrictions. A subsequent call was also held with the Herpetofauna Health Working Group, which is a group of experts from government, academia and industry, who reports to the CWDC, and the members who participated in the call expressed support for the one-year trade ban.
The Department of the Environment consulted the pet industry via teleconference through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC Canada). They expressed support for the one-year ban, citing their “exotic animal policy” that obligates them to consider threats to native species and ecosystems. Researchers and academics were consulted through the CWHC and the Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS), both of which expressed support for the one-year ban on imports and the associated permitting regime for specific purposes.
The Regulations are expected to contribute to the preservation of salamanders and protect the species from an imminent threat. This will contribute to overall biodiversity and help maintain the benefits of the species that Canadians currently enjoy, as well as its potential future uses. Although the Regulations will result in low costs to the Government of Canada and to Canadian businesses, it is anticipated that its implementation will result in notable environmental benefits that will outweigh those modest costs.
Facilitating the preservation of a given species contributes to overall biodiversity, the maintenance of which is essential for healthy ecosystems. More diverse ecosystems are generally more stable and better able to withstand change, and thus the goods and services they provide to society are also more stable over time. In particular, salamanders support the healthy and aquatic and terrestrial habitats in which they live through their normal ecosystem functions in the food chain, and through their role in nutrient and carbon cycling.
In terms of costs to society, the Regulations are expected to eliminate the value of salamander imports and provoke a loss in the household pet industry of $11,000 or less and a cost to Government of approximately $462,000. However, should native salamander populations become infected with this fungus, the ecological costs that could be expected to occur would likely exceed the costs associated with the introduction of this urgent trade control.
Strategic environmental assessment
A strategic environmental assessment was conducted, and it was concluded that the proposal would have positive environmental effects and would contribute to three of the 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) objectives and targets, (see footnote 32) including sustainably managed lands and forests; healthy wildlife populations; and, effective action on climate change, by reducing the likelihood of the Bsal fungus from infecting native Canadian salamanders.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The Department of the Environment is responsible for permitting and is the lead department for compliance promotion and enforcement activities. Cooperative measures to promote compliance with and enforcement of the Regulations have been developed with the CBSA.
A compliance strategy has been developed and will be implemented. Compliance promotion initiatives are proactive measures that encourage voluntary compliance with the law through education and outreach activities that raise awareness and understanding. Compliance promotion activities will have a targeted focus and will include fact sheets, letters to trade associations and participation in trade shows.
The primary means to detect non-compliance is the inspection of international shipments at the border and other entry points. In the event that a contravention occurs, WAPPRIITA sets out penalties including fines or imprisonment, seizure, and forfeiture of things seized or of the proceeds of their disposition. Under the penalty provisions of WAPPRIITA, a corporation found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $50,000. An individual found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both. A corporation found guilty of an indictable offence is liable to a fine not exceeding $300,000, and an individual found guilty of an indictable offence is liable to a fine of not more than $150,000 or to imprisonment for a term up to five years, or both.
Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
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The Canada Border Services Agency (the CBSA) uses the international Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) codes to categorize goods imported into the country. Specific codes for amphibians do not exist, therefore, this makes exact salamander import data unattainable. It is also impractical to use a more general HS code because frequently importers and customs brokers report amphibians under incorrect HS codes. Salamanders have been noted to be reported under live fishes (HS0301.10 and HS0301.99), live reptiles (HS0106.20) and other live animals (HS0106.90). Live amphibians are currently correctly classified under HS0106.90. In 2002, the CBSA reviewed 710 data records for imports of commodities classified as HS0106.90 and revealed that only 10 records were actually amphibians. All of the other amphibians imported that year were incorrectly classified under the other HS codes. This is according to Gerson, H. (2012). International trade in amphibians: A customs perspective. Alytes, 29 (1-4): 103-115.
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