Vol. 145, No. 14 -- July 6, 2011
SOR/2011-128 June 23, 2011
SPECIES AT RISK ACT
Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act
P.C. 2011-728 June 23, 2011
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (see footnote a), hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act.
ORDER AMENDING SCHEDULE 1 TO THE SPECIES AT RISK ACT
1. Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “FISH”:
Bass, Striped (Morone saxatilis) St. Lawrence Estuary population
Bar rayé population de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent
2. Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “FISH”:
Chubsucker, Lake (Erimyzon sucetta)
Sucet de lac
Shark, White (Carcharodon carcharias) Atlantic population
Grand requin blanc population de l’Atlantique
3. Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “MOLLUSCS”:
Abalone, Northern (Haliotis kamtschatkana)
4. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “MAMMALS”:
Whale, Killer (Orcinus orca) Northeast Pacific offshore population
Épaulard population océanique du Pacifique Nord-Est
5. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading “FISH”:
Chubsucker, Lake (Erimyzon sucetta)
Sucet de lac
6. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading “MOLLUSCS”:
Abalone, Northern (Haliotis kamtschatkana)
7. Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “MAMMALS”:
Whale, Sowerby’s Beaked (Mesoplodon bidens)
Baleine à bec de Sowerby
8. Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading “MAMMALS”:
Whale, Killer (Orcinus orca) Northeast Pacific offshore population
Épaulard population océanique du Pacifique Nord-Est
9. Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “FISH”:
Buffalo, Bigmouth (Ictiobus cyprinellus) Saskatchewan River and Nelson River populations
Buffalo à grande bouche populations des rivières Saskatchewan et Nelson
Rockfish, Yelloweye (Sebastes ruberrimus) Pacific Ocean inside waters population
Sébaste aux yeux jaunes population des eaux intérieures de l’océan Pacifique
Rockfish, Yelloweye (Sebastes ruberrimus) Pacific Ocean outside waters population
Sébaste aux yeux jaunes population des eaux extérieures de l’océan Pacifique
COMING INTO FORCE
10. This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Order.)
Issue: A growing number of aquatic species in Canada face pressures and threats that put them at risk of extirpation or extinction. Many serve important biological functions or have intrinsic, commercial, or recreational value to the Canadian public and require conservation and protection to ensure healthy aquatic ecosystems for future generations.
Description: This Order amends Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by adding six aquatic species and by reclassifying three aquatic species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. These amendments are being made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment with advice from the other competent minister, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The addition of species to Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened invokes prohibitions against killing, harming, harassing, capturing, taking, possessing, collecting, buying, selling or trading individuals of these species, and against damaging or destroying the residence of one or more of such individuals. SARA also requires the preparation of recovery strategies and action plans to provide for their recovery and survival. When a species is added to Schedule 1 as a species of special concern, SARA requires the preparation of a management plan to prevent the species from becoming endangered or threatened.
Cost-benefit statement: For each of the six species added to Schedule 1, as well as the three species with their listing status amended in Schedule 1, the socioeconomic impacts are estimated to be low and should result in positive net benefits for Canadians.
Business and consumer impacts: The potential net impact on fish harvesters and recreational anglers as a result of listing the six aquatic species in this proposal is low, as is the impact on governments.
Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: International coordination and cooperation for the conservation of biodiversity is provided through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic coordination and cooperation is covered by several mechanisms developed to coordinate Species at Risk (SAR) Program implementation across the various domestic jurisdictions. These include inter-governmental committees, a National Framework for Species at Risk Conservation (NFSARC), and negotiated species at risk bilateral agreements. The species at risk bilateral agreements foster collaboration in the implementation of SARA and of provincial/territorial endangered species legislation.
Performance measurement and evaluation plan: Environment Canada and federal partners, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency, have put in place a Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (see footnote 2) (RMAF) and a Risk-based Audit Framework (RBAF) for the Species at Risk Program. The specific measurable outcomes for the Program and the performance measurement and evaluation strategy are described in the Species at Risk Program RMAF and RBAF.
A growing number of wildlife species in Canada face pressures and threats that put them at risk of extirpation or extinction. Canada’s natural heritage is an integral part of Canada’s national identity and history. Wildlife, in all its forms, has value in and of itself and is valued by Canadians for aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, educational, historical, economic, medical, ecological and scientific reasons. Canadian wildlife species and ecosystems are also part of the world’s heritage. The Government of Canada is committed to conserving biological diversity, through the use of many tools including the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
SARA is a key tool in the ongoing work to protect species at risk. By providing for the protection and recovery of species at risk, SARA is one of the most important tools in the conservation of Canada’s biological diversity. SARA also complements other laws and programs of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments, and supports the efforts of conservation organizations and other partners working to protect Canadian wildlife and habitat. SARA establishes Schedule 1 as the official List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Once a species is listed on Schedule 1, the measures to protect and recover a listed wildlife species apply.
On September 30, 2010, the Governor in Council (GIC) officially acknowledged receipt of assessments for 12 aquatic species that had been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Receipt of these assessments initiated the nine-month legislated timeline within which the GIC, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, decides whether or not to add these species to Schedule 1 of SARA, or to refer the species back to COSEWIC for further review. Accordingly, the GIC is required to render a final decision regarding the listing of these species by June 30, 2011. This regulatory action will address 9 of these 12 species.
A separate order will be published on the decision not to add to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk the Boccacio, Canary Rockfish, and Lake Winnipeg physa. The decision not to list these species was made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, in consultation with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, taking into account the assessments provided by COSEWIC.
The purposes of SARA are
- to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct;
- to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity; and
- to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
A decision to add a species to Schedule 1 as endangered or threatened will result in the species receiving the benefits of protection and recovery measures required under the SARA. Species listed as special concern will receive the benefits of a SARA-compliant management plan. This will result in overall benefits to the environment both in terms of the protection and recovery of individual species and the conservation of Canada’s biological diversity.
In making a recommendation to the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans considers the following, as appropriate:
- The purpose of SARA;
- The COSEWIC status assessment;
- Other available information regarding the status and threats to the species;
- The results of public consultations with provinces and territories;
- The results of consultations with appropriate Aboriginal organizations;
- The results of consultations with any other person or organization that the competent minister considers appropriate;
- The results of consultations with the appropriate wildlife management board;
- The social-economic (costs and benefits) and biological impacts from listing the species; and
- The advice of any other competent minister.
It is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment to make a recommendation to the GIC to
- (a) accept the COSEWIC assessment and add the specific species to the List;
- (b) decide not to add the species to the List; or
- (c) refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.
The purpose of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add six aquatic species to Schedule 1, and to reclassify three aquatic species on Schedule 1. This amendment is made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment based on advice from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, on scientific assessments by COSEWIC, and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.
Once an aquatic species has been listed as threatened or endangered, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for preparing a recovery strategy which includes, among other things, population and distribution objectives for a species. If a species risk status changes from threatened to endangered, this reflects the level of risk that the species currently faces. Depending on the reason for which the species has been re-classified, the recovery strategy and the action plan (if one exists) will be reviewed to ensure that they are still relevant given changes in the risk status. For example, if there is a new threat to the species this will have to be reflected in the recovery strategy. However, the new risk status does not necessarily change the population and distribution objectives for the future of the species.
The risk status as assessed by COSEWIC for the nine species under consideration is presented in Table 1. The full status assessments, including the reasons for classification and the species range for the nine species included in the regulatory actions, are available at www.sararegistry.gc.ca.
Table 1. Status designations of nine species assessed by COSEWIC and received by the GIC on September 30, 2010
|Species added to Schedule 1 of SARA (6)|
|1. Bigmouth Buffalo (Saskatchewan River and Nelson River populations)||Special concern|
|2. Yelloweye Rockfish (Pacific Ocean outside waters population)||Special concern|
|Species added to Schedule 1 of SARA (6)|
|3. Yelloweye Rockfish (Pacific Ocean inside waters population)||Special concern|
|4. Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population)||Extirpated|
|5. White Shark (Atlantic population)||Endangered|
|6. Sowerby’s Beaked Whale||Special concern|
|Species Reclassified in Schedule 1 of SARA (3)|
|1. Lake Chubsucker||Threatened to endangered|
|2. Northern Abalone||Threatened to endangered|
|3. Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific offshore population)||Special concern to threatened|
SARA has prohibitions that make it an offence to kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of an aquatic species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA. SARA also has prohibitions that make it an offence to possess, collect, buy, sell or trade such individuals and to damage or destroy the residence of one or more such individuals.
Under section 37 of SARA, once an aquatic species is listed on Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is required to prepare a strategy for its recovery. Pursuant to section 41 of SARA, the recovery strategy must, among other things, address threats to the species’ survival and to its habitat, describe the broad strategy to address those threats, identify the species’ critical habitat to the extent possible based on the best available information, state the population and distribution objectives that will assist the recovery and survival of the species, and identify research and management activities needed to meet the population and distribution objectives. The recovery strategy also provides a timeline for completion of one or more action plans.
Action plans are required to be developed to implement recovery strategies for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Action plans must, with respect to the area to which the action plan relates, identify, among others, measures that address the threats to the species and those that help to achieve the population and distribution objectives for the species and when these are to take place; a species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, based on the best available information and consistent with the recovery strategy; examples of activities that would likely result in the destruction of the species’ critical habitat; measures to be taken to protect the critical habitat; and methods to monitor the recovery of the species and its long-term viability. These action plans also require an evaluation of the socio economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation.
For species listed as special concern, management plans that include measures for the conservation of the species and their habitat must be prepared. Recovery strategies, action plans and management plans must be posted on the Public Registry within the timelines set out under SARA.
Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered
As required under SARA, on receiving a copy of an assessment from COSEWIC, the Minister of the Environment includes, within 90 days, a report in the Public Registry stating how the Minister intends to respond to the assessment. The receipt of status assessments by the GIC triggers a process in which the GIC may review that assessment and may, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, (1) accept the assessment and add the species to Schedule 1 of SARA; (2) decide not to add the species to Schedule 1; or (3) refer the assessment back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.
The first option, to add the species to Schedule 1 of SARA, would ensure that the species receives protection in accordance with the provisions of SARA, including mandatory recovery or management planning.
The second option is not to add the species to Schedule 1. Although the species would benefit from neither prohibitions afforded by SARA, nor the recovery or management planning required under SARA, the species may already be managed under other federal legislation such as the Fisheries Act as well as provincial or territorial species-at-risk legislation where it exists. When deciding to not add a species to Schedule 1, it is not referred back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.
The third option is to refer the assessment back to COSEWIC for further assessment when new information is made available that was not taken into consideration during the original assessment. It would be appropriate to send an assessment back if, for example, significant new information became available after the species had been assessed by COSEWIC.
If the GIC has not made a decision in response to COSEWIC’s assessments nine months after acknowledging receipt of the assessment of these species, the Minister of the Environment must amend the List in accordance with COSEWIC’s assessments.
Under SARA, the scientific assessment of species status and the decision whether to add a species to Schedule 1 of SARA are comprised of two distinct processes. This separation guarantees that scientists may work independently when assessing the biological status of wildlife species and that Canadians have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process in determining whether or not species would be listed under SARA.
Public consultations were conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) from 2006 to 2009 on the nine aquatic species addressed in this document. These nine aquatic species had been assessed by COSEWIC at its meetings between November 2002 and April 2009. Consultations were facilitated through mail-outs, meetings, public sessions, consultation workbooks, and other supporting documents which were made available on the SARA Public Registry and other government Web sites. Consultations were conducted with fish harvesters, industry sectors, recreational fishers, Aboriginal groups, environmental organizations, other levels of government and the public. The consultation results for the individual species are outlined later in this document.
Benefits and costs
Description and rationale
Listing a species on Schedule 1 of SARA entails both benefits and costs in terms of social, environmental and economic considerations, through the implementation of the SARA general prohibitions upon listing and through the recovery planning requirements. This Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) outlines the estimated benefits and costs associated with adding six species and amending the listing status of three other species to Schedule 1 of SARA.
Upon listing the aquatic species on Schedule 1, individuals of that species under consideration will benefit from immediate protection wherever they are found through general prohibitions under SARA. Under sections 32 and 33 of SARA, it is an offence to
- kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a listed species that is extirpated, endangered or threatened;
- possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a listed species that is extirpated, endangered or threatened, or its part or derivative; and
- damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a listed endangered or threatened species or of a listed extirpated species if a recovery strategy has proposed its reintroduction into the wild in Canada.
In all cases where a fishery is likely to interact with a species at risk in a predictable way, a SARA permit is required, or a SARA-compliant authorization/permit or licence pursuant to other federal legislation is required. However, such a permit is dependent upon several factors, including the biology of the fish, the type of gear used, the nature of the fishery, and that the activity of capturing the species at risk does not compromise survival or recovery of the species. In some circumstances, the interaction of the fishery with the species at risk will result in its mortality and therefore live-release is not feasible. Again, in this situation, the issuance of a SARA permit to allow the fishery to interact with the species at risk will be dependent upon the determination that the incidental mortality associated with the capture of the species does not compromise its survival or recovery. Furthermore, in all cases, all reasonable alternatives to the activity will be assessed and all feasible mitigation measures applied to minimize the interaction with the species at risk. In cases where non-directed catch will compromise survival or recovery of the species, pursuant to SARA, no permit can be issued. The SARA section 32 prohibition will prohibit all interaction with the species which constitutes killing, harming or harassing of the species. To date, restrictions on non-directed catch are established through SARA-compliant Fisheries Act licences. In no case can a species at risk captured as non-directed be bought or sold.
Listing species on Schedule 1 will result in the development and implementation of recovery strategies and action plans or management plans. Recovery strategies must be drafted for all species listed on Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened. These are followed by action plans that identify measures to implement the recovery strategy. For species listed on Schedule 1 as species of special concern, management plans are required that include measures for the conservation of the species and their habitat.
For some aquatic species, protection under SARA can lead to direct and indirect economic benefits in the future as populations recover and the commercial or recreational use of the species can be restored. However, protecting species at risk can provide numerous benefits to Canadians beyond direct economic benefits, such as the preservation of essential ecosystem goods and services. Many of the species considered for SARA protection serve as indicators of environmental quality. Various studies show that Canadians place value on preserving species for future generations to enjoy and benefit from knowing the species exist, even if they will never personally see or otherwise enjoy them. Furthermore, the unique characteristics and evolutionary histories of many species at risk make them of special interest to the scientific community.
When seeking to quantify the economic benefits to society provided by a species, the most commonly used framework is the Total Economic Value (TEV). The TEV of a species can be broken down into the following components:
- Direct Use Value -- refers to the consumptive use of a resource, such as fishing;
- Indirect Use Value -- includes non-consumptive activities, such as whale watching, which represents recreational value;
- Option Use Value -- represents the value of preserving a species for future direct and indirect use; and
- Passive Values (or non-use value) -- includes bequest value, which is the value of preserving a species for future generations, and existence value, which represents the altruistic value individuals derive from simply knowing that a given species exists, regardless of potential for any future use.
Passive value is typically an important component of the TEV of species at risk. When a given species is not readily accessible to society, existence value may comprise the major or only benefit of a particular species. Passive values can be estimated by stated preferences surveys that estimate willingness to pay -- the amount an individual is willing to pay per year to preserve a species.
Quantitative information is limited regarding Canadians’ willingness to pay for the preservation of species under consideration in this Order. However, studies on other at-risk species indicate Canadians do place substantial economic value upon targeted conservation programs, even for species with which they are unfamiliar. Although specific estimates are not available for the species considered here, it is not always necessary to quantify the benefits of protection in order to determine their likely magnitude in comparison to the costs imposed on Canadians. The analysis in this Order uses the best available quantitative and qualitative information to assess expected benefits.
The costs of protecting and recovering the species in this Order could be borne by several segments of society. For Government, major categories of costs attributed to the Order include compliance promotion, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and enforcement. These costs could arise from the application of SARA, in particular the enforcement of the SARA prohibitions and/or the development and implementation of recovery strategies, action plans, or management plans depending on the classification of the species. Additional costs to Canadians will usually arise from the changes in economic activity that are required to accommodate species protection, for example reduced harvests or the application of best management practices to preserve habitat or avoid incidental mortality.
The magnitude of costs borne by affected parties (including industries, individuals and different levels of government) vary and would be proportional to some key parameters, such as the classification of the species in Schedule 1, threats to the species, population size and distribution, as well as economic activities involving the species. For example,
- For the four aquatic species added to Schedule 1 as species of special concern -- Bigmouth Buffalo (Saskatchewan River and Nelson River populations), Yelloweye Rockfish (Pacific Ocean inside waters and Pacific Ocean outside waters populations) and the Sowerby’s Beaked Whale -- the automatic prohibitions under sections 32 and 33 of SARA will not apply. Thus, there are no immediate costs to assure compliance with legislated prohibitions. Rather, affected stakeholders may incur costs that will stem from the development and implementation of a management plan, as required for species of special concern under SARA;
- For the species being reclassified from threatened to endangered -- Lake Chubsucker and Northern Abalone -- the prohibitions of these two categories under SARA are the same; therefore, no additional impacts are anticipated; and
- For the species added to Schedule 1 under the extirpated, endangered, or threatened categories, the general prohibitions will be applied automatically upon listing and impacts to Canadians will occur. For these cases, the impacts are detailed below.
Costs arising from the enforcement activities associated with the listing recommendations under this Order are anticipated to be low. While incremental activities related to enforcement costs to DFO are not expected to create a significant additional burden on DFO, the requirement to develop recovery strategies and action plans in accordance with SARA would result in incremental costs.
The benefits and costs to Canadian society from these actions under SARA have been estimated to the greatest extent practical, according to the 2007 interim benefit-cost guidelines set out by the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada. Dollar estimates are presented as changes in net economic value (consumer and/or producer surplus) wherever possible. When quantitative estimation was not possible or expected impacts were too low to warrant extensive analysis, the potential impacts are described in qualitative terms.
Aquatic species added to Schedule 1 of SARA
Six aquatic species (one freshwater fish, four marine fishes and one marine mammal) are added to Schedule 1. Four of the species, the Bigmouth Buffalo (Saskatchewan River and Nelson River populations), Yelloweye Rockfish (Pacific Ocean inside waters and Pacific Ocean outside waters populations), and the Sowerby’s Beaked Whale are added as species of special concern. The White Shark (Atlantic population) is added as endangered, while the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population) is added as extirpated.
Bigmouth Buffalo (Saskatchewan River and Nelson River populations)
The Bigmouth Buffalo (Saskatchewan River and Nelson River populations) was assessed by COSEWIC as a species of special concern in April 2009. This population is found primarily in the Red and Assiniboine rivers in southern Manitoba. COSEWIC has indicated in its assessment that although there has been an increase in the extent of occurrence and area of occupancy in Manitoba, the species is not abundant. Dramatic population declines in the Qu’Appelle River basin appear to be related to changes in water management practices that have led to elimination and/or degradation of spawning habitat and subsequent reduction in reproductive potential.
Consultations were conducted with First Nations, stakeholders and the public within the Central and Arctic Region. Overall, the responses were in support of listing. Information, including letters and factsheets, was sent to 39 non-Aboriginal organizations and 13 Aboriginal communities and organizations. Public notices were placed in six media outlets.
There was limited response from this effort. A Métis group responded, requesting funding for a community meeting and information. A First Nation supported listing in their response, citing the importance of the species to food, social and ceremonial fisheries. Four individual public responses (50%) were in favour of listing, while the other four wanted more information or were critical of the consultation process.
The Province of Saskatchewan strongly supported listing, and has encouraged the federal government to work with First Nations and provincial agencies. The City of Regina responded with concerns about the cost implications of changing the present day sewage discharge into the waterways. An environmental organization, the Mixedwood Forest Society, responded that a management plan would finally begin to address water quality and habitat issues in the watershed.
The Bigmouth Buffalo has value as a component of biodiversity and, as such, the development of a management plan to maintain its abundance is expected to generate benefits in accordance with Canadians’ willingness to pay for biodiversity protection. Habitat needs will be considered in the development of the plan, and efforts to protect the Bigmouth Buffalo will indirectly enhance the overall health of the ecosystem, thereby supporting other species and benefiting the Canadian public.
It is expected that listing the Bigmouth Buffalo as a species of special concern will have low socio-economic costs, as special concern status does not trigger the prohibitions under sections 32 and 33 of SARA. No direct impacts are anticipated on fish harvesters since a commercial fishery for the species in Saskatchewan, dating from the 1940s, ended in 1983, and the species is not known to be captured as non-directed catch in other fisheries. The costs associated with education, stewardship, and habitat protection are not expected to be significantly higher under SARA management than under other legislative instruments and policies that protect aquatic species and their habitat(s). Development proposals affecting fish and fish habitat will continue to be assessed through the normal review process implemented under the Fisheries Act, ensuring that potential impacts will continue to be addressed in a cost-effective manner.
Listing of the Bigmouth Buffalo is not expected to alter DFO’s approach to the management of this species which is currently protected and managed pursuant to the Fisheries Act. Notwithstanding this, listing this population of the Bigmouth Buffalo as special concern under SARA will require that a management plan including measures for the conservation of this species and its habitat be prepared within five years.
Yelloweye Rockfish (Pacific Ocean inside waters population) and Yelloweye Rockfish (Pacific Ocean outside waters population)
Two designatable units (DUs) of Yelloweye Rockfish in Canada are recognized (Pacific Ocean inside waters and Pacific Ocean outside waters) on the basis of genetic information and age at maturity. The inside waters DU occurs in the Strait of Georgia, in the Johnstone Strait and in the Queen Charlotte Strait. The outside waters DU extends from at least southeast Alaska through to northern Oregon and includes the whole of the B.C. offshore, north and central coast waters. COSEWIC assessed the Yelloweye Rockfish, inside and outside waters populations, as species of special concern in 2008. COSEWIC has indicated in its assessment that this species is one of an inshore rockfish complex which is exploited by commercial, recreational and First Nation fisheries. Life history characteristics make the species particularly susceptible to human-caused mortality. The maximum recorded age was 120 years and the generation time estimated at 66 years. Fishery-independent surveys over the past 20 years do not show significant declines, while declines over 19 years in commercial catch per unit effort are not believed to represent abundance accurately. Commercial catch quotas have been reduced and restrictions on harvesting are expected to keep catches low in the future; in addition, Rockfish Conservation Areas have been closed to commercial and recreational fishing.
Joint consultations on Yelloweye, Bocaccio and Canary Rockfish were held in November 2009 in addition to an Internet comment period from November 1 to December 31. A total of 30 comments were received via Internet, half of which originated from the commercial fishing industry.
Five of the eight comments received online (2009) from the recreational fishers opposed listing of the species as special concern. Commercial and recreational sectors expressed concern with listing this species under SARA and feel that the current management regime pursuant to the Fisheries Act is sufficient. A primary concern among the commercial fishing industry relates to potential financial repercussions and the industry suggests that Yelloweye Rockfish are ubiquitous throughout their range, making it impossible to avoid non-directed harvest of the species. It was also stated that currently fish harvesters must fish at deeper depths to avoid the species and this results in increased costs to the sector.
Two environmental organizations supported the listing recommendation. Four comments were received from Aboriginal groups and expressed concerns about potential financial impacts on their commercial fishing activities, as well as apprehension that listing would negatively affect food, social and ceremonial fishing to a great extent.
Yelloweye Rockfish is a target species for commercial and recreational fisheries. Management of the Yelloweye Rockfish populations as species of special concern will require the development of a management plan aimed at rebuilding the population while maintaining the option of fishing for the species as well as allowing passive use values of the species. A continuation of the existing conservative management approach in the near term is anticipated to provide for greater future benefits as the species recovers and may lead to fewer restrictions in the commercial groundfish fishery in the future. Benefits to aboriginal groups would also continue to be realized through food, social and ceremonial and other rights-based fisheries. Management measures to preserve Yelloweye Rockfish populations are also likely to benefit other species with similar characteristics.
Listing the Yelloweye Rockfish as species of special concern will have no incremental socio-economic impacts as the prohibitions under sections 32 and 33 of SARA will not be applicable. Many conservation initiatives are already underway under the authority of the Fisheries Act and costs will be limited to the development of a management plan for the species. Harvests in the commercial and recreational fisheries are assumed to be the major source of human-induced mortality and therefore existing conservation costs will be limited to the fishery sector.
The commercial groundfish and recreational fisheries sectors have initiated actions to reduce impacts on the respective Yelloweye Rockfish DUs. Actions taken include reductions in commercial total allowable catch (50% on the outside and 75% in the inside), a reduced recreational harvest limit and the establishment of no-fishing Rockfish Conservation Areas. Full at-sea monitoring and dockside monitoring of groundfish catch are currently in place for the commercial groundfish fishery. In addition, both species are managed using individual vessel quotas with each commercial groundfish harvester being individually accountable for their catch.
Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population)
The Striped Bass population of the St. Lawrence River Estuary, unique to the Quebec Region, was assessed as extirpated by COSEWIC in 2005. Due to habitat alteration, heavy commercial and recreational fishing and illegal fishing, the Striped Bass population of the St. Lawrence Estuary has unfortunately disappeared, with the last recorded landing in 1968. Furthermore, habitat alteration caused by the disposal of dredge material in a specific section of the seaway is also suspected to have confined the remaining immature Striped Bass to a limited area along the south shore where fishing subsequently became concentrated.
In 2002, the Government of Quebec undertook an initiative to reintroduce Striped Bass in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, with an aim to establish a new population capable of sustaining itself. The recapture of Striped Bass in the Estuary indicates that individuals are growing and the population is spreading over a territory similar to the one historically occupied.
Presently, the principal threats to the species are habitat alteration caused by the disposal of dredged material and encroachment of riparian habitats. Additional threats to this species include thermal attraction to the Gentilly-2 power plant, general contamination of water quality from diffuse sources, eutrophication, climate change, invasive alien species, and pathogens and parasites in the St. Lawrence River Estuary. Commercial and sport fishing of Striped Bass is not authorized in Quebec, although the species is captured as non-directed catch in commercial and recreational fisheries. However, commercial and recreational fisheries are not considered major threats since Quebec’s fishing regulations contain catch-and-release provisions for this species.
In 2005–06, DFO undertook consultations on the proposal to list the Striped Bass population of the St. Lawrence Estuary. In addition to online consultation through the species at risk Public Registry, more than 160 consultation booklets were sent by mail to concerned stakeholders, two public consultation meetings were held (in municipalities north and south of the St. Lawrence River), and public notices were published in three major Quebec newspapers.
Most stakeholders were in favour of listing the species under SARA, except for some eel fishermen. Five responses came from commercial fishermen and baitfish harvesters. One fishermen’s association expressed concern that listing would hinder their fishing activity as they perceive SARA to be more restrictive than the Quebec Fishery Regulations, 1990 (QFR). Although the QFR do not allow a directed fishery for Striped Bass, they requires accidental catches of the Striped Bass to be released. In response to these concerns, DFO has been working with key stakeholders to develop a draft recovery strategy for the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River Estuary population) and take into account activities such as the recreational fishery by considering the impact of a catch-and-release fishery in the document.
The Government of Quebec was consulted by letter in December 2009. It supports the listing in that it is already actively involved in reintroducing the species and is part of the recovery team for the development of the recovery strategy for the species.
Two aboriginal organizations responded in favour of the listing recommendation.
Hydro-Québec indicated in a written response to the 2005–06 consultations that they are not opposed to listing, since it would not entail additional constraints on their activities.
Two responses from non-governmental organizations indicated their approval of listing this species under SARA. The Montmagny Regional County Municipality is also in favour of listing and is interested in collaborative opportunities with DFO related to the recovery of the species.
Striped Bass have value to Canadians as a component of biodiversity and as an indicator of overall ecosystem health. Recovery activities for this population undertaken under SARA will provide broader benefits to the ecosystem of the St. Lawrence River Estuary.
In the past, this population had high value and was heavily exploited, both recreationally and commercially. If the population is recovered, it may be possible that a sustainable harvest could be re-established in the future, generating significant benefits from the direct use of the species.
The listing of the Striped Bass population of the St. Lawrence River Estuary is not expected to impose a significant socio-economic impact. Stakeholders are already engaged in the development of a recovery strategy for the Striped Bass and, therefore, are aware of potential implications of listing the species.
COSEWIC’s guidelines cite three criteria for assessing species as extinct or extirpated from Canada: there exists no remaining habitat for the species and there have been no records of the species despite recent surveys; 50 years have passed since the last credible record of the species, despite surveys in the interim; or there is sufficient information to document that no individuals of the species remain alive.
Listing the Striped Bass as extirpated will ensure that the competent minister must prepare a strategy for its recovery within two years of its being listed. It will also trigger SARA’s prohibitions against killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking an individual of this population of this species.
Overall, listing this species under SARA will have very little impact since fishing for the species is already prohibited and release from non-directed catch is mandatory.
There are already initiatives in place to contribute to the recovery of the species, including
- establishment of a Striped Bass reintroduction program in the St. Lawrence River;
- establishment of a monitoring network of non-directed catch of Striped Bass in commercial fishing gear;
- an educational campaign to allow recreational fishers to recognize this species, be aware that it must be released in the water and report the catch; and
- data analysis and collection of specimens of the extirpated population to support the reintroduction of Striped Bass.
Sowerby’s Beaked Whale
Sowerby’s Beaked Whales are only found in the North Atlantic, from Cape Cod to Davis Strait in the western Atlantic, and from Norway to Spain in the eastern Atlantic. Their distribution is poorly known, although sightings have typically occurred in off-shore waters.
The population of Sowerby’s Beaked Whale in Canadian waters was originally assessed as special concern by COSEWIC in 1989 and data deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1996. In a 2006 status update, COSEWIC reaffirmed its original assessment of Sowerby’s Beaked Whale as special concern.
Given that Sowerby’s Beaked Whale belongs to a family of whales (Ziphiidae) in which acute exposure to intense sounds (e.g. military sonar, seismic operations) has led to serious injury and mortality, COSEWIC identified acoustic pollution as a potential threat to the species. Seismic operations are currently widespread and military activities involving the use of mid- and low-frequency sonar likely occur at least occasionally in the habitat of this species off Canada’s East Coast. Although there is no direct evidence that such sound sources have affected this species, there is strong evidence for lethal effects on individuals of related species. Therefore, there is reasonable cause for concern about the potential effects on individuals of this species. Population-level impacts of this type of mortality are unknown. Other potential threats listed in the status report include pollutants, ship strikes, and entanglement in longline gear.
Workbooks accompanied by letters inviting comments and offering bilateral meetings were mailed to over 200 stakeholders, fishing organizations, industry groups, and environmental organizations. Only 10 workbooks were returned, of which the majority agreed with listing Sowerby’s Beaked Whale on Schedule 1 of SARA. Letters were received from the Shipping Federation of Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Neither organization opposed listing this species, although they had concerns with what they viewed as the lack of direct evidence supporting statements in the COSEWIC status report that their industries posed potential threats to this species. Both organizations expressed interest in being involved in the development of a management plan for Sowerby’s Beaked Whale, should it be listed under SARA.
Over 50 workbooks, with accompanying letters inviting comments and/or bilateral meetings, were sent to Aboriginal organizations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Information about Sowerby’s Beaked Whale was presented at a meeting of the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council (MAPC). No concerns over the listing of Sowerby’s Beaked Whale were expressed by any Aboriginal organization.
Although no specific valuation studies have been carried out on this rare species, the Sowerby’s Beaked Whale is likely to have significant value to the Canadian public, similar to other marine mammal species. The species also has importance as a component of biodiversity. The threats to the Sowerby’s Beaked Whale are shared by other marine mammal species, and these species will also benefit from managing these threats within a SARA-compliant plan.
While little is known about the species, a listing as special concern will not have a significant impact on commercial fisheries or most other activities. Incremental costs will be associated with raising awareness of the species among industry members, in particular the pelagic longline fishing fleet.
The listing of Sowerby’s Beaked Whales as special concern is not anticipated to have significant impacts on activities in its range. Threats to the species are similar to those faced by many cetaceans and efforts to mitigate mid-frequency sonar and seismic activity, entanglement, and ship strikes are currently underway. Increasing seismic activity in the offshore waters of Atlantic Canada has become a cause of concern. A “Statement of Practice with Respect to the Mitigation of Seismic Sound in the Marine Environment” has been developed for use in the offshore petroleum exploration industry and will be adapted for this species. In addition, there have been sightings of the species in the Gully Marine Protected Area, which provides protection to individuals and part of their habitat.
Listing on Schedule 1 will be beneficial to the species as a precautionary measure because of its rarity, the lack of specific knowledge of its life history and because it is a member of a family of whales that has been documented to be injured or possibly killed as a result of seismic testing in other jurisdictions.
White Shark (Atlantic population)
The White Shark (Atlantic population) was assessed as endangered by COSEWIC in April 2006. COSEWIC indicated in its assessment that this species is globally distributed in sub-tropical and temperate waters, but absent from cold polar waters; hence Atlantic and Pacific populations in Canada are isolated and considered separate designable units.
This very large apex predator is rare in most parts of its range, but particularly so in Canadian waters, which represent the northern fringe of its distribution. There are only 32 records of sightings over 132 years for Atlantic Canada. No abundance trend information is available for Atlantic Canada. Numbers have been estimated to have declined by about 80% over 14 years (less than one generation) in areas of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean outside of Canadian waters. The species is highly mobile, and individuals in Atlantic Canada are likely seasonal migrants belonging to a widespread Northwest Atlantic population; hence the status of the Atlantic Canadian population is considered to be the same as that of the broader population. Additional considerations include the long generation time (~23 years) and low reproductive rates of this species, which limit its ability to withstand losses from an increase in mortality rates. Non-directed capture in the pelagic long line fishery is considered to be the primary cause of increased mortality.
Scientific advice on the recovery potential and a socio-economic analysis of the potential impacts of listing the White Shark under SARA were prepared and presented to the provinces, Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and the general public during the consultation period. Public meetings were held at four locations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in February and March 2007. The public response to listing the White Shark was typically positive or indifferent, given the rarity of sightings in Canadian waters. A presentation about the listing of the White Shark was given at a February 2007 meeting with the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee. Among industry groups, there was antipathy towards the listing of shark species in general, although the listing of the White Shark was considered of less importance than the other species. Letters were sent to all Atlantic provinces. The Province of Nova Scotia was supportive of listing the White Shark on Schedule 1 as endangered. No comments were received from New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island.
A consultation workbook was developed and posted for comment on the SARA Public Registry from January 30 to April 1, 2007. Several email responses were received, all of which supported listing. Workbooks, with accompanying letters inviting comments and offering bi-lateral meetings, were sent to over 150 stakeholders, fishing organizations, industry groups, and environmental organizations in the Maritime region. A total of 23 workbooks were returned, of which the majority expressed a positive response to listing the White Shark.
Public notices in both official languages were placed in newspapers in the region to inform the general public of the opportunity to provide consultation input via the four public meetings, the SARA Public Registry, the regional SARA toll-free telephone number and the regional SARA email address. Although very little input was received, it was all supportive of listing the White Shark.
Over 50 workbooks, with accompanying letters inviting comments and/or bi-lateral meetings, were sent to Aboriginal organizations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Information about the White Shark was presented at a meeting of the MAPC in September 2007. No concerns over listing of the White Shark were expressed by any Aboriginal organization, and MAPC was supportive of the endangered designation.
The benefits of listing the White Shark in Canada are difficult to assess, since mortality in Canadian waters is considered to be a very small component of the threats to the species, and it is unknown to what extent recovery will be facilitated by listing. However, sharks are iconic species and it is likely that the Canadian public will place value on the protection of the White Shark under SARA.
The costs of listing the White Shark are likely to be low. Since 1874, there have been only 15 confirmed records of White Shark capture by commercial fishing gear in Atlantic Canada. The majority of the non-directed catch occurred in either herring weirs or gillnets. The only available management measure is to require the live release of captured individuals through licence conditions within the affected fisheries, and it is not expected that this will impose significant costs to commercial or First Nation fisheries.
Even though the White Shark is uncommon in Canadian waters and rarely interacts with Canadian fisheries, the species has experienced a significant worldwide decline (between 59% and 89% between 1986 and 2000 (see footnote 3)). Any level of harm can be considered to jeopardize the species’ survival or recovery. Canada’s listing of the species as endangered under SARA will be consistent with the White Shark’s status of vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and its protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.
Aquatic species reclassified on Schedule 1 of SARA
Three aquatic species (one freshwater fish, one mollusc and one marine mammal) are reclassified on Schedule 1 of SARA. The Lake Chubsucker and the Northern Abalone are both reclassified in status from threatened to endangered species. The Offshore Killer Whale’s status is reclassified from a species of special concern to threatened.
The Lake Chubsucker was assessed by COSEWIC as a species of special concern in April 1994. This status was re-examined and the species was assessed as threatened in November 2001. In November 2008, the status was re-examined and the species was assessed as endangered. It is currently listed as threatened under SARA. COSEWIC has indicated in its assessment that this species exists within a restricted geographic range in Canada with small populations having very specific and narrow habitat preferences, which are under continued stress. It is extremely susceptible to habitat change driven by urban, industrial and agricultural practices resulting in increased turbidity. Two populations have been lost, and of the 11 existing populations, 3 are in serious decline as a result of the continuing and increasing threats posed by agricultural, industrial and urban development that are expected to impact the remaining populations of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. A recovery strategy to address these issues has been developed in partnership with the Province of Ontario, Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency and conservation authorities in Ontario.
Consultations on the listing under SARA were conducted with First Nations, stakeholders and the public within Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Overall, the responses were supportive of listing this species.
Under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007, the Lake Chubsucker is listed as a threatened species. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is supportive of listing the species as endangered under SARA.
Consultation packages (letter, workbook and factsheet) were sent to 80 non-Aboriginal and 20 Aboriginal groups and organizations. Public notices were placed in 13 news outlets. Response was minimal and no comments were received from Aboriginal groups.
Responses from non-Aboriginal groups included comments expressing a need for decisions to be based on science (on the best available scientific data and opinions of experts) and the best interests of the species. In addition, comments stated that the change in status would emphasize the highly vulnerable state of this species, and thus increase support for its recovery and protection.
A recovery strategy for this species was included in the SARA public registry in June 2010 and an action plan will be prepared. Existing benefits are expected to be sustained with a decision to reclassify.
Reclassification of the Lake Chubsucker from threatened to endangered will have no incremental socio-economic costs, to industry or to the Canadian public, as the section 32 and 33 prohibitions of SARA are already in effect. No direct impacts are anticipated to existing fisheries. No significant changes are expected to be made to the drafted recovery strategy since the species is reclassified as endangered.
The Lake Chubsucker will be afforded the same high level of protection it currently receives if its status is reclassified as endangered.
Changing the designation of the Lake Chubsucker from threatened to endangered under SARA has no practical effect on the protection or recovery of the species since a recovery strategy for the Lake Chubsucker has already been prepared.
The Northern Abalone was assessed by COSEWIC in 1999 as threatened. The status was re-examined and confirmed in 2000, despite a total moratorium on harvest since 1990. Northern Abalone is currently listed as threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA. COSEWIC reassessed the Northern Abalone in 2009 and, based on population declines, assessed it as endangered. Highly valued for its meat, this marine mollusc is patchily distributed along the west coast of Canada. Poaching is the most serious threat and continues to reduce population abundance, particularly the larger, more reproductive component; however, all size classes have declined significantly over the past three generations (i.e. since 1978) with mature individuals declining an estimated 88%–89%. Low densities may further magnify the problem by reducing fertilization success of this broadcast spawner (the Allee effect). Although predators such as the recovering Sea Otter population are not responsible for recently observed declines, they may ultimately influence future abundance of abalone populations.
COSEWIC identified illegal harvest and low recruitment levels due to reduced spawner densities to be the most significant threats to recovery. The Northern Abalone is particularly vulnerable to illegal harvest because mature individuals tend to accumulate in shallow water and are easily accessible to illegal harvesters.
Consultations were undertaken using DFO’s Consultation Web site. (see footnote 4) Most respondents supported listing the Northern Abalone as endangered. One exception came from a First Nation which questioned how an endangered listing would affect their access to wild abalone brood stock for re-building purposes. Following this, consultations between the First Nations and DFO on the issue of Northern Abalone are ongoing. Listing the species will not change the Aboriginal population’s access for brood stocking purposes. Responses provided by the provincial and local governments mentioned the benefits of increased enforcement which has had a noticeable effect in curtailing illegal harvest.
Actions to improve the status of the species will likely yield societal benefits in the longer term. Northern Abalone has value to Canadians, even if they do not currently make direct use of the species. Northern Abalone has high use values, as indicated by the high level of illegal harvest and high international market prices. However, recovery to the level that would allow commercial or recreational harvest is not anticipated in the foreseeable future. Consequently, commercial and consumer benefits are not anticipated within the timeframe under consideration in current recovery planning.
First Nations have long held that Northern Abalone is important for social and cultural reasons. Measures to conserve and recover the species will therefore also yield benefits for First Nations in the longer term.
Although the benefits of protecting Northern Abalone are clear, reclassification from threatened to endangered will not result in incremental protection or benefits beyond those currently in place.
Harvest of Northern Abalone has been banned since 1990. No additional costs are anticipated by changing the classification of the species from threatened to endangered. A SARA compliant recovery strategy is being implemented and the SARA prohibitions are already in place. Costs to reduce illegal harvest and rebuild the population are ongoing and not anticipated to increase.
All Northern Abalone fisheries were closed in 1990. A recovery strategy was completed (2007) and is being implemented, while an action plan is in the final stages of development. Recovery initiatives include the Northern Abalone Coast Watch Program, which deters illegal harvest and monitors populations. This program has been underway since 2002, led by a number of coastal First Nations. DFO’s compliance promotion patrols have also been increased. Additionally, experimental sites to investigate rebuilding through aggregation of wild, reproductive adults have been pursued. Hatchery-raised abalone juveniles and one million larvae have been released into the wild.
Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific offshore population)
Offshore Killer Whales are currently listed under SARA as special concern. Species status is based on the population’s abundance and distribution relative to threats to the species and their habitats. COSEWIC reassessed this population in 2008 as threatened, despite no discernable decrease in the population. The finding was based on the continued low numbers of observed individuals (only 288 individuals over 20 years), a better understanding of the biology of the animals, and the threats to their survival or recovery. The population has a very small number of mature individuals (~120). The population, though not currently subjected to human exploitation, is, however, vulnerable to threats from contaminants, and acoustical and physical disturbance. Reduced prey availability may affect Offshore Killer Whales, but too little is known about their diet to estimate the relevance of this threat. The population is monitored and appears to be stable.
There are significant information gaps because of the difficulty in locating this species. It is most often found far from land in pods and has recently been observed feeding on sharks.
Consultations were undertaken using the DFO consultation Web site. Most respondents supported listing Offshore Killer Whales as threatened. First Nations were also sent separate letters offering bilateral consultations. No First Nations accepted the request for consultations or provided feedback. Environmental organizations stated that the federal government’s initiative to protect and recover members of this iconic species is welcome. Other comments stated that due to population declines, the strongest measures possible were needed to assist recovery of this species.
A reclassification from special concern to threatened will provide additional protection to this species under SARA. The Killer Whale is an iconic species and it is anticipated that the Canadian public places a high value on its conservation. Tourism is unlikely to develop around these whales given their distance from the mainland and their elusive nature; thus, the majority of public value would be passive in nature.
First Nations peoples have long held Killer Whales in high cultural and spiritual regard as protectors of the oceans. There is no documentation to suggest these values differ between Killer Whale populations, and this value is expected to be universal and applies to this offshore population.
Enhanced protection of the Offshore Killer Whale population through development of a recovery strategy and an action plan is likely to generate benefits for First Nations and the Canadian public at large.
As this species is listed as one of special concern, a management plan was done for this population of Killer Whales. A recovery strategy will be undertaken following the reclassification of this population as threatened. The apparent main threats to this population are shared with other populations of Killer Whale. Recovery strategies are in place and action plans are under development to address these threats for the populations already listed as threatened or endangered; thus, the incremental costs of listing the Offshore Killer Whale are likely to be low. After the critical habitat is identified in a recovery strategy or action plan for an aquatic species, an assessment must be made as to whether it is legally protected by provisions in, or measures under, SARA or any other Act of Parliament. If there are no such measures, an order must be made within 180 days after the recovery strategy or action plan is included in the public registry. The destruction of the critical habitat specified in the order is prohibited. Impacts may arise from the identification of critical habitat for this particular population, to the extent that availability of its prey species (which may include shark and possibly flatfish) are having a negative impact on the population. If this is the case, regulatory action under the Fisheries Act for commercial fishing will be required to ensure that sufficient prey are available for the species. However, more information is necessary, because the diet of the Offshore Killer Whale is not well understood. Their behaviour is consistent with a predator that does not feed on marine mammals; however, they have been reported to feed on fish, which is supported by fatty acid profiles for this species. The food habits are too poorly known to judge whether changes in prey availability are likely to affect this species’ population. However, if management of these prey species needs to be adjusted to accommodate Offshore Killer Whale requirements, costs could be imposed upon the commercial fishing industry. Management of commercial fisheries will be administered through a multi-year integrated fisheries management plan (IFMP) where catch limits will be set, if possible, through the industry consultative process.
Variation orders temporarily modifying the provisions of the Regulations will be used in the scenario that immediate changes (to allow for increased prey species availability) are necessary to the total allowable catch, for any given fishing season. When the order expires, is replaced or is repealed, the initial provisions of the Regulations will be reinstated.
The action will change the status of the Offshore Killer Whale population from special concern to threatened. Given the naturally small size of the population and low potential rates of increase, it is vulnerable to threats. Furthermore, limited information on the population results in substantial uncertainty about the impact of potential threats such as prey availability, chronic and acute toxic contamination, and acute noise stress. Given these uncertainties, it is appropriate to list this population as threatened.
On December 18, 2010, a proposed order and accompanying RIAS proposing the addition of six and the reclassification of three aquatic species to Schedule 1 was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The draft order and the RIAS were based on earlier consultations held by DFO on individual species. The RIAS also outlined draft recommendations not to list three other aquatic species. For these three species, a separate order will be published on the decision not to add to Schedule 1 the Bocaccio, Canary Rockfish, and Lake Winnipeg physa.
A total of two comments were received during the prepublication period regarding four species, Bocaccio, Canary Rockfish, Striped Bass and White Shark.
With respect to the listing recommendation for the Striped Bass, Hydro-Quebec is supportive of the recommendation, but indicated that the Gentilly-2 (see footnote 5) nuclear generating station, located on the shore of the St-Lawrence River, should not be considered a potential threat to the species. Recent studies have shown that the plant cannot be identified as a threat to the habitat, but could be a threat to individuals of this species. More research is ongoing. Until conclusions are finalized, the thermal attraction of Gentilly-2 cannot be considered as a formal threat since no mortality or increased disease occurrence in striped bass was observed near the discharge channel of the plant.
The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) supported the proposed decision not to list Bocaccio. They also supported the Canary Rockfish recommendation, but added that COSEWIC’s assessment should have been rejected upon submission. The FCC’s view is that, at the time of the COSEWIC assessment, Canary Rockfish in Canadian waters was being managed by DFO within a precautionary approach framework. The species was benefiting from enhanced fisheries management and monitoring measures introduced since 2007. Its stock status at the time was identified as being in the “cautious zone.” The FCC concludes that the stock continues to benefit from the fisheries management regime and now is in the “healthy zone” of the framework.
The FCC did not, however, agree with the recommendation to add the White Shark to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. They viewed that since mortality in Canadian waters is a very small component of the threats to the species, it is unknown to what extent recovery of the species would be facilitated by a listing in Canada under SARA. They suggested that listing the species in SARA as Special Concern and establishing a management plan for the species under Canada’s Fisheries Act when in Canadian waters should be sufficient.
Since the White Shark is listed as Vulnerable globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which equates to threatened in the COSEWIC categories, and since the White Shark’s abundance is declining both in the North Atlantic and worldwide, DFO maintains its listing recommendation for the Canadian part of the range for this species.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
DFO has developed a compliance strategy for the Order amending Schedule 1 of SARA to address the first five years of implementation of compliance promotion and enforcement activities related to the general prohibitions. Specifically, the compliance strategy will only address compliance with the general prohibitions for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA. The compliance strategy is aimed at achieving awareness and understanding of the Order among the affected communities; adoption of behaviours by the affected communities that will contribute to the overall conservation, protection and recovery of wildlife species at risk; compliance with the Order by the affected communities; and increasing the knowledge of the affected communities.
The implementation of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act will include activities designed to encourage compliance with the general prohibitions. Compliance promotion initiatives are proactive measures that encourage voluntary compliance with the law through education and outreach activities, and raise awareness and understanding of the prohibitions by offering plain language explanations of the legal requirements under the Act. DFO will promote compliance with the general prohibitions of SARA through activities that may include online resources posted on the SARA Public Registry, fact sheets, mail-outs and presentations. These activities will specifically target groups who may be affected by this Order and whose activities could contravene the general prohibitions, including other federal government departments, First Nations, private land owners, recreational and commercial fishers, national park visitors and recreational users on parks lands. The compliance strategy outlines the priorities, affected communities, timelines and key messages for compliance activities.
At the time of listing, timelines apply for the preparation of recovery strategies, action plans or management plans. The implementation of these plans may result in recommendations for further regulatory action for protection of the species and its critical habitat when identified. It may draw on the provisions of other acts of Parliament, such as the Fisheries Act, to provide required protection.
SARA provides for penalties for contraventions to the Act, including liability for costs, fines or imprisonment, alternative measures agreements, seizure and forfeiture of things seized or of the proceeds of their disposition. SARA also provides for inspections and search and seizure operations by enforcement officers designated under SARA. Under the penalty provisions of the Act, a corporation found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $300,000, a non-profit corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000, and any other person is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both. A corporation found guilty of an indictable offence is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000,000, a non-profit corporation to a fine of not more than $250,000, and any other person to a fine of not more than $250,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, or to both.
Species at Risk Program Management
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
S.C. 2002, c. 29
S.C. 2002, c. 29
Baum, J. K., R. A. Myers, D. G. Kehler, B. Worm, S. J. Harley, and P. A. Doherty. 2003. “Collapse and Conservation of Shark Populations in the Northwest Atlantic.” Science. 299: 389-392.
The Gentilly-2 is a Canadian nuclear power station located near Bécancour, Quebec. The facility derives its name from the Gentilly suburb of the city of Bécancour. Gentilly-2 is the second of two power reactors in Quebec.
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