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Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani) in Canada (Final)

Atlantic Whitefish

Atlantic Whitefish. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region.

December 2006

Responsible Jurisdictions
Environmental Considerations

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is“to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.”

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA outline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat (

Recommended citation:

Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 2006. Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, xiii + 42 pp.

Additional copies:

You can download additional copies from the SARA Public Registry.

Cover illustration: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region

Également disponible en français sous le titre :

« Programme de rétablissement du corégone de l’Atlantique (Coregonus huntsmani) au Canada»

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2006. All rights reserved.

ISBN 978-0-662-45149-5

Cat. no. En3-4/18-2007E-PDF

Content (excluding the illustration) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


This recovery strategy for the Atlantic whitefish has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions described in the preface. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its recovery strategy for the Atlantic whitefish as required by the Species at Risk Act.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans invites all Canadians to join Fisheries and Oceans Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Atlantic whitefish and Canadian society as a whole. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will support implementation of this strategy to the extent possible, given available resources and its overall responsibility for species at risk conservation. The Minister will report on progress within five years.

This strategy will be complemented by one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species. The Minister will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians interested in or affected by these measures will be consulted.

Responsible Jurisdictions

Under the Species at Risk Act, the responsible jurisdiction for the Atlantic whitefish is Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Atlantic whitefish occur only in Nova Scotia, and the government of Nova Scotia also cooperated in the production of this recovery strategy.


This document was prepared based on advice from the Atlantic Whitefish Conservation and Recovery Team.

The Atlantic Whitefish Conservation and Recovery Team (AWCRT), hereafter referred to as 'the Recovery Team', was formed in the fall of 1999 in response to concerns regarding the survival of the Atlantic whitefish in Nova Scotia. Successful recovery is dependent on a transparent and inclusive approach that is acceptable to a variety of community interests; therefore the Recovery Team draws membership from all sectors that have an interest in protecting the species. The Recovery Team is thus comprised of tri-partite government members: the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR), and Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (NSDAF), as well as their clients, industry, and stakeholders.

Meetings are held at least once a year. Members of the Recovery Team when this and the 2002 Recovery Strategy was developed are listed below. Key functions of the Recovery Team include:

  • advise DFO on the development of a recovery strategy and action plan;
  • coordinate Recovery Team member/organization involvement in recovery actions including environmental, biological, technical and social (educational and stewardship) program initiatives, and;
  • communicate recovery activities to others.
Member OrganizationCurrent and past members
Bluenose Coastal Action FoundationCook, Brooke
Bridgewater – Public Service CommissionFeener, Larry
Fox, Mike
Canadian Association of Smallmouth AnglersWeare, Mark
Dalhousie UniversityCook, Adam
Hasselman, Danc
DesBrisay MuseumSelig, Gary
DFO, Science - Diadromous Fish (Maritimes)Bradford, Rod
Davison, Bev
Longard, David
Longue, Philip
Marshall, Larry (former co-chair)
O'Neil, Shane
O'Reilly, Patrick
Whitelaw, John
DFO, Fisheries Management (Maritimes)Burton, Clifford
Manderville, Darin
Marshall, Ian (current chair)
Purdy, Jeff
Stevens, Greg
Sweeney, Anne
DFO, Species at Risk Coord. Office (Maritimes)Barnes, Bob (former co-chair)
Cullen, Lynn
Loch, John (former acting co-chair)
McPherson, Arran
Querbach, Kirsten
Robichaud-LeBlanc, Kim
DFO, Oceans - Habitat Management (Maritimes)Hamilton, Anita
Schaefer, Heidi
Wheaton, Thomas
DFO, Communications (Maritimes)Myers, Carl
McKinnon, Chastity
DFO, Policy and Economics (Maritimes)Rudd, Murray
Environment CanadaDavidson, Kevin
Hebbville Village CommissionBarkhouse, Murray
Native Council of Nova ScotiaMartin, Tim
Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and FisheriesLeBlanc, Jason
Nova Scotia Department of Environment and LabourGreen, Bob
Helmer, Leif
Nova Scotia Department of Natural ResourcesElderkin, Mark
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural HistoryGilhen, John (current co-chair)
Hebda, Andrew
Nova Scotia Power CorporationBurgess, Carys
Meade, Ken
Petite Rivière Watershed Advisory GroupBell, Doug
Brown, Wally
Bryant, David
South Shore NaturalistsComolli, Jill
Smith, Judith
Tusket River Environmental Protection AssociationDukeshire, Danny
Patten, Patrick


This recovery strategy has been developed through the cooperative effort of the Atlantic Whitefish Conservation and Recovery Team (AWCRT). In the development of such, this document draws heavily on a draft National recovery strategy prepared by Doug Rowland on behalf of the AWCRT in 2001. DFO is grateful to the Recovery Team and Mr. Rowland and the many individuals who provided information and advice contributing to the development of this document. We also thank Dave Longard of DFO Science and Stanley Johnston of DFO Oceans for preparing the maps in this document. Furthermore, Fisheries and Oceans Canada wishes to recognize the invaluable input provided by the broader interested public in the consultation process (see Appendix III for a record of consultations).

Environmental Considerations

Environmental considerations must be incorporated into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The recovery planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The environmental considerations for this strategy are summarized as follows:

This recovery strategy will benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Atlantic whitefish. Although a major challenge facing the recovery of Atlantic whitefish is the lack of general knowledge about the species biology, its abundance and habitat requirements, as well as assessing the impact of identified threats and appropriate measures to mitigate these threats, the potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. Re-introduction of the species into watersheds other than the Tusket and Petite rivers could have ecological consequences. Negative consequences to other recreational fisheries and/or species will be mitigated to the extent possible and socio-economic costs fully estimated in a subsequent Action Plan. Potential impacts are expected to be site-specific and strategies to address impacts will be developed in advance of taking recovery actions. The environmental risks associated with re-introductions were concluded to be activities that outweigh the consequences of inaction.


SARA defines residence as:

“a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating” [SARA S2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry.


The Atlantic whitefish, although presently land-locked, is an anadromous fish by nature, and is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. The Atlantic whitefish was listed as endangered under SARA in June 2003. Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Maritimes Region, led the development of this recovery strategy. The proposed strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41). It was developed in cooperation or consultation with (see Appendix III for full record of consultations), as appropriate.

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