PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is a very large species (the all-tackle angling record is a 679 kg fish of 304 cm fork length taken off Aulds Cove, Nova Scotia in 1979), with a stout but efficiently streamlined, fusiform body that is a little compressed. There are two dorsal fins; the first is yellow or bluish while the second is reddish-brown. The head is conical with a pointed snout and a mouth that is terminal with the lower jaw slightly projecting. The dorsal surface is dark blue to black, shading to lighter blue on the sides and silvery grey below. The lower sides and belly are silvery white with colourless transverse lines alternated with rows of colourless dots (these dominate in older fish), which are visible only in fresh specimens. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in Canadian waters are large, usually about 270 cm fork length and 400 kg or more.
This iconic fish has been heavily exploited for over 40 years and the current abundance of spawning individuals is the lowest observed. Fishing is the main threat to the viability of the species and despite management efforts for the past 30 years to rebuild the population, there is little sign of population increase. The abundance of spawning fish has declined by 69% over the past 2.7 generations. While the cause of the decline, overfishing, is understood, it has not ceased and it is not clearly reversible. The spawning segment of the species was exposed to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in a portion of its spawning area in the Gulf of Mexico. While the effects of the spill on the species are currently unknown, it may represent an additional threat.
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has prepared listing advice for the 15 aquatic species received by the GIC. This advice serves as the basis for the Minister of the Environment’s listing recommendations to the GIC. Thirteen of the fifteen species are addressed in the proposed Order Amending Schedule 1 of SARA.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.
In 2011 COSEWIC assessed the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna as Endangered. This risk level indicates that the species is likely to become extinct or extirpated in parts of its range unless something is done to address the threats it is facing. The Government of Canada must now make a decision whether or not this species requires protection under SARA. One of the inputs into this decision is the results of consultations with stakeholders, Aboriginal organizations, Provincial governments, and the Canadian public. The purpose of this consultation workbook is to provide a mechanism to gather input about the potential economic, cultural and ecological impacts of listing or not listing this species under SARA, as well as the views and opinions of Canadians on this subject.