Action Plan for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations in Canada
Table of contents
- Executive Summary
- 1. Recovery Actions
- 2. Critical Habitat
- 3. Evaluation of Socio-Economic Costs and of Benefits
- 4. Measuring Progress
- 5. References
- Appendix A: Effects on the Environment and Other Species
- Appendix B: Record of Cooperation and Consultation
- Appendix C: Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team
- Appendix D: Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Live Gene Bank Program
List of tables
- Table 1. Recovery measures for iBoF Salmon to be led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or Parks Canada Agency
- Table 2. Collaborative recovery measures for iBoF Salmon to be led by other parties but where Fisheries and Oceans Canada or Parks Canada Agency may be a partner
- Table 3. Remaining opportunities for work to contribute toward iBoF Salmon Recovery Objectives
List of figures
- Figure 1. Location of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon DU and approximate location of the 50 rivers referred to in this document
- Figure 2. Schematic depicting the general operations of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Live Gene Bank (LGB) program
Action Plan for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations in Canada
(inner Bay of Fundy populations)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2016. Action Plan for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations in Canada [PROPOSED]. Species at Risk Act Action Plan Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. vi+ 58pp.
For copies of the Action Plan, or for additional information on species at risk, including COSEWIC status reports, residence descriptions, recovery strategies, and other related recovery documents, please visit the SAR Public Registry1.
Cover illustration: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region
Également disponible en français sous le titre
« Plan d’action du saumon atlantique (Salmo salar), populations de l’intérieur de la baie de Fundy au Canada »
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2016. All rights reserved.
ISBN ISBN to come
Catalogue no. Catalogue no. to come
Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996)2 agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of action plans for species listed as Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened for which recovery has been deemed feasible. They are also required to report on progress five years after the publication of the final document on the Species at Risk Public Registry.
Under SARA, one or more action plan(s) provides the detailed recovery planning that supports the strategic direction set out in the recovery strategy for the species. The plan outlines what needs to be done to achieve the population and distribution objectives (previously referred to as recovery goals and objectives) identified in the recovery strategy, including the measures to be taken to address the threats and monitor the recovery of the species, as well as the proposed measures to protect critical habitat that has been identified for the species. The action plan also includes an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the measures and the benefits to be derived from their implementation. The action plan is considered one in a series of documents that are linked and should be taken into consideration together; those being the COSEWIC status report, the recovery strategy, and one or more action plans.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada Agency; namely the Minister of the Environment, are the competent ministers under SARA for the Atlantic Salmon, inner Bay of Fundy populations, and have prepared this Action Plan to implement the Recovery Strategy, as per section 47 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation and collaboration with the multi-stakeholder, multi-interest Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team (Appendix C) which is comprised of relevant federal (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada Agency) and provincial governments (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia provincial governments), academia, industry, First Nations and Aboriginal organizations, environmental non-government organizations, and a number of local watershed conservation organizations. The Action Plan has also been prepared with any others, as per subsection 48(1) of SARA (Appendix B).
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 and actions set out in this Action Plan and will not be achieved by Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this Action Plan for the benefit of the Atlantic Salmon, inner Bay of Fundy populations, and Canadian society as a whole.
Implementation of this Action Plan is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.
This Action Plan was developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in collaboration with Parks Canada Agency and with input from the multi-stakeholder, multi-interest Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team (the “Recovery Team”) (Appendix C). This document builds upon the “Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations”(DFO 2010). DFO is grateful to the Recovery Team for their participation in the initial action planning workshop (November 7, 2012), for their ongoing and dedicated efforts in providing information, expertise and perspectives contributing to the development of this Action Plan, and in the commitment of many of its groups and organizations to collaborate in its implementation. DFO also wishes to recognize the input provided by the broader public in the consultation process. See Appendix B for the Record of Cooperation and Consultation.
The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is an anadromous fish. The inner Bay of Fundy populations of Atlantic Salmon (iBoF Salmon) are reported to have inhabited many of the approximately 50 rivers draining into the inner bay in both Nova Scotia (NS) and New Brunswick (NB). The populations of iBoF Salmon face separate threats in the marine and freshwater environments. Although the causes of the marked decline of iBoF Salmon are not well understood, historical impacts in freshwater may have contributed to their decline and current status, while evidence suggests that recovery is currently primarily limited by low marine survival. Survival of the populations is currently maintained through a captive breeding and rearing program known as the Live Gene Bank (LGB). Historically, iBoF Salmon populations supported economically and culturally significant Aboriginal, recreational and commercial fisheries, and at present Salmon remain socially and culturally important to local communities and Aboriginal people of Atlantic Canada.
Assessed as Endangered in May of 2001, the iBoF Salmon was included as Endangered under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) when the Act was proclaimed in June 2003. Individuals found within the two Fundy National Park watersheds (Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon) are also protected under the Canada National Parks Act. The “Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations”(the Recovery Strategy) sets out the broad strategies and approaches needed for the species’ recovery with an overall goal to “re-establish wild, self-sustaining populations as required to conserve the genetic characteristics of the remaining anadromous iBoF Atlantic Salmon” (DFO 2010). The Recovery Strategy identifies critical habitat for iBoF Salmon in ten rivers. No additional critical habitat is identified in this Action Plan. Marine and estuarine critical habitat areas will be included in a forthcoming amended Recovery Strategy. The Recovery Strategy and this Action Plan were prepared by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Parks Canada Agency (PCA), who is responsible for the species within Fundy National Park, with advice from, and in collaboration with, the Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team (the “Recovery Team”; Appendix C).
This Action Plan, intended to implement the species’ Recovery Strategy, presents the recovery measures necessary to address the iBoF Salmon’s entire Canadian distribution and seeks to build on previous and ongoing activities. This Action Plan specifically outlines 35 recovery measures needed to address all five recovery objectives of the Recovery Strategy. Narratives describing each measure are provided.
In brief, the recovery measures outlined include activities related to the following:
- Continue LGB program for principal iBoF Salmon populations and assess the LGB program’s contribution to recovery.
- Evaluate the cross-breeding experiment on the Petitcodiac River and examine the river’s role in iBoF Salmon recovery.
- Undertake an acoustic tracking project on smolts to identify marine threats and refine understanding of marine habitat usage by iBoF Salmon.
- Identify and describe areas of marine and estuarine critical habitat.
- Update analysis of barriers in iBoF estuaries and improve habitat connectivity.
- Examine the relationship between marine survival and identified marine threats.
- Investigate effects of disease and parasite loads, and improve monitoring and management of sea lice.
- Prevent and mitigate escaped farmed Salmon.
- Continue to promote and host Recovery Team meetings as opportunities for communication and collaborations.
Success in the recovery of iBoF Salmon is not solely dependent on the actions of any single jurisdiction; rather it requires the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions and actions set out in this Action Plan. Accordingly, this Action Plan contains an Implementation Schedule which is organized into three tables by lead participant in the activity.
Adopting an adaptive management approach to recovery for iBoF Salmon will be essential to ensure the survival of the species within its existing habitat, success of recovery efforts, and to address threats. SARA requires that the implementation of an action plan and its ecological and socio-economic impacts be assessed and reported on five years after the plan comes into effect. Accordingly, a 5-year report will be developed at that time to address a review of activities completed or ongoing which will assist in reviewing progress on implementing this Action Plan and ensure any new information or changing conditions are taken into account. DFO and PCA will continue to work cooperatively with the iBoF Salmon Recovery Team and any other stakeholders, First Nation, Aboriginal organizations, and other interested parties towards the recovery of iBoF Salmon.
An evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the Action Plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation was completed. The evaluation showed that many of the measures included in this Action Plan represent a continuation of current activities or responsibilities and commitments of DFO and/or other groups into the foreseeable future, such as those related to the Live Gene Bank program. Therefore these measures are unlikely to result in additional costs over and above what is already planned. However, certain measures, such the acoustic smolt tracking work and work in the areas of tidal and freshwater habitat improvements, may require large scale investments in excess of $100,000 each. Additional research and analysis may each require investments in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. For several of the measures, insufficient information is available to provide an assessment of potential costs, therefore the total cost of fully implementing this Action Plan can not be assessed at this time.
If fully implemented, it is anticipated that this Action Plan will benefit the iBoF Salmon as well as other species located within the inner Bay of Fundy area, in particular other populations of Atlantic Salmon. The potential for effects on other species have been considered (Appendix A). Additionally, as Canadians have been shown to value the conservation and preservation of species in and of themselves, it is anticipated that this Action Plan will contribute positively to the livelihoods and the quality of life of all Canadians by promoting self-sustaining and healthy ecosystems.
1. Recovery Actions
1.1 Context and Scope of the Action Plan
The scope of this Action Plan includes the recovery measures necessary to address the entire Canadian distribution of Atlantic Salmon, inner Bay of Fundy populations. The Action Plan addresses all five of the recovery objectives and corresponding approaches identified in the Recovery Strategy, and seeks to build on previous and ongoing activities that address these objectives.
The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is a medium-sized anadromous fish (meaning it migrates up rivers from the sea to spawn in fresh water) endemic to temperate waters in the northern hemisphere. The inner Bay of Fundy populations of Atlantic Salmon (iBoF Salmon) are considered a Designatable Unit (DU) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the entire iBoF Salmon DU exists within Eastern Canada. It includes 50 named rivers draining into the inner Bay of Fundy, starting with the Mispec River (northeast of the Saint John River in New Brunswick (NB)) to the Pereaux River (in the Minas Basin northeast of the Annapolis River in Nova Scotia (NS)) (Figure 1). Adult iBoF Salmon are reported to have inhabited from 32-42 rivers in that area. Two of these watersheds, the Upper Salmon and Point Wolfe, are primarily contained within Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. IBoF Salmon populations are categorised as a DU because they possess distinct genetic traits and unique life history characteristics, including maturity after one winter at sea and a localized sea migration. IBoF Salmon stay mainly within the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine area, compared to other Atlantic Salmon populations which migrate to the north Atlantic.
The collective populations of iBoF Salmon may have numbered as many as 40,000 adults earlier in the 20th century and returned to approximately 40 rivers. They have been reduced to as few as 100 adults returning to a small number of rivers in recent years. Although the populations have historically fluctuated widely, the populations have declined to critically low abundance levels and the DU is currently at imminent risk of extinction.
The causes of the decline of iBoF Salmon are not well understood. Potential threats have been identified in both the freshwater and marine environments and are outlined in the Recovery Strategy. A growing body of evidence suggests that the sharp decline of iBoF Salmon is primarily due to low marine survival; the causes of which are not well understood. Populations are currently maintained through a Live Gene Bank (LGB) program3, which is a captive breeding and rearing program (see Appendix D for a summary and schematic of the iBoF Salmon LGB program). This Action Plan recommends that this program continue, while efforts are made to identify and remedy the causes of low marine survival or until alternative strategies can be identified, evaluated and supported.
Figure 1. Location of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon DU and approximate location of the 50 rivers referred to in this document. Orange denotes rivers containing critical habitat. The darkened green parcel represents the location of Fundy National Park.
Long Description for Figure 1
Figure 1 is a map outlining the location of the 50 named rivers of the inner Bay of Fundy.Each river is numbered on the map starting with the Pereaux River in the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia and progressing around the inner Bay to the Mispec River, northeast of the Saint John River in New Brunswick. The ten rivers containing critical habitat are coloured in orange. Fundy National Park is represented by a green parcel. A small insert in the top left hand corner shows the location of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon designatable unit.
COSEWIC assessed the iBoF Salmon as Endangered in May of 2001 (COSEWIC 2001). This status was re-examined and confirmed in both April, 2006 and November, 2010 (COSEWIC 2006, 2010). The collective populations of iBoF Salmon were included as Endangered under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) when the Act was proclaimed in June 2003.
A Recovery Strategy for iBoF Salmon was co-developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Parks Canada Agency (PCA), who has jurisdiction for the species within Fundy National Park, in cooperation and consultation with the long-standing multi-stakeholder, multi-interest Recovery Team. The “Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations”(the “Recovery Strategy“) was published on the federal Species at Risk Public Registry (the “Registry“) in May 2010 and sets out the broad strategies and approaches needed for the species’ recovery (DFO 2010). This Action Plan builds upon those identified approaches to address the species’ entire Canadian distribution and implement the Recovery Strategy to achieve the overall goal for iBoF Salmon recovery, namely to:
“re-establish wild, self-sustaining populations as required to conserve the genetic characteristics of the remaining anadromous iBoF Atlantic Salmon.”
Despite threats in freshwater that have contributed to the decline of iBoF Salmon, it is recognized that factor(s) limiting population recovery of iBoF Salmon currently occur primarily in the marine environment, and the species’ survival is contingent on the LGB program. Given this, both short and long term population and distribution objectives were set in the Recovery Strategy. The short term target is set at the conservation levels4 within the ten rivers that contribute to the LGB program (namely, the Gaspereau, Stewiacke, Debert, Folly, Great Village, Portapique, Economy, Upper Salmon, Point Wolfe and Big Salmon). The longer term target, should marine survival improve, is defined as the conservation levels within an additional set of nine rivers important for the long term population self-sustainability, namely the Shubenacadie, Salmon, North, Bass, Chiganois, Harrington, Apple, Maccan and Petitcodiac.
This Action Plan specifically outlines the recovery measures required to implement the five prioritized recovery objectives and associated approaches identified in the Recovery Strategy as outlined below.
Objective 1: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers.
- 1.1 Provide iBoF Salmon with appropriate genetic characteristics for re-colonization of iBoF rivers designated for recovery.
- 1.2 Conserve the genetic characteristics of the residual populations from the Chignecto Bay and the Minas Basin (specifically Gaspereau, Stewiacke, Debert, Folly, Great Village, Portapique, Economy, Upper Salmon, Point Wolfe and Big Salmon).
- 1.3 Use LGB strategies to conserve iBoF genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations in iBoF rivers.
Objective 2: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment.
- 2.1 Determine marine habitat quality, quantity and use by iBoF Salmon populations.
- 2.2 Preserve and recover marine habitat.
- 2.3 Identify and evaluate marine threats that could limit iBoF Salmon survival and/or recovery.
- 2.4 Reduce or mitigate marine threats that could limit iBoF Salmon survival and/or recovery.
Objective 3: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment.
- 3.1 Continue to review and determine freshwater habitat quality, quantity and use by iBoF Salmon populations.
- 3.2 Preserve and recover freshwater habitat.
- 3.3 Identify and evaluate freshwater habitat threats that could limit iBoF Salmon survival and/or recovery.
- 3.4 Reduce or mitigate freshwater threats that could limit iBoF Salmon survival and/or recovery.
Objective 4: Assess population status, sustainability and recovery feasibility.
- 4.1 Continue to review and update the annual status of populations where information is available.
- 4.2 Periodically evaluate recovery success, review progress towards attaining self-sustainable populations and assess the feasibility of recovery.
Objective 5: Communicate and increase the awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon.
- 5.1 Involve governments, non-government and conservation organizations, other stakeholders, Aboriginal Peoples, industry and the general public in the planning and conduct of recovery initiatives.
- 5.2 Communicate with the relevant stakeholders on the status of recovery efforts in a manner that demonstrates how their behaviours can affect recovery.
The Recovery Strategy provides more details on the strategic direction for recovery of iBoF Salmon, as well as further information on the species’ biology and needs, its threats and the identified critical habitat.
No other action plans related to iBoF Salmon have been published or submitted for inclusion on the Registry. However, the following additional document can be associated with implementation of the Recovery Strategy.
- Petitcodiac River Renaissance Plan5: A three-year plan developed by the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper which contains a number of priorities, including the completion of the Petitcodiac River Restoration Project and implementation of a native fish recovery strategy by 2015.
1.2 Recovery Measures
The recovery measures presented in this Action Plan outline the current understanding of what needs to be done to promote the recovery of iBoF Salmon, including achieving the population and distribution objectives and addressing the threats. The measures are meant to facilitate the recovery planning process by identifying activities that can be used to guide not only activities to be undertaken by DFO and PCA, but also those for which other jurisdictions, organizations and individuals committed to iBoF Salmon recovery have a role to play. This Action Plan builds upon many successful activities already underway while at the same time recognizing that other measures need to be undertaken or enhanced.
These measures address each of the Recovery Strategy’s five objectives and respective approaches. The rationale for each recovery objective is outlined in the Recovery Strategy. The recovery measures are presented in a chronological order under, and in the same order as, the corresponding Recovery Strategy objective. The associated narrative below provides details on each of the recovery measures and links to the subsequent Implementation Schedule in Section 1.3, which identifies the participating partners and timelines. Each measure is numbered consecutively and this number relates to the measure’s location within the relevant table. For additional ease of reference the table number (Table 1, 2 or 3) has been included in brackets alongside each measure title. Measures that consist of sub-activities within a measure or sub-measures which may appear in more than one of the tables were labelled a, b, c accordingly. Monitoring methods have been provided where possible. It is acknowledged that recovery measures and the manner in which they are conducted are adaptively managed. That is, as new information and techniques become available they are considered and incorporated as appropriate into the program methodology.
Federal funding programs for species at risk that may provide opportunities to obtain funding to carry out some of the outlined activities include the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk6, the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk Program7, and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund8. The Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program9 may also provide funding opportunities to those interested in undertaking activities to restore fisheries habitat. Funding opportunities for fish and/or their habitat also exist within both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, such as the Nova Scotia Salmon Association’s Adopt-a-Stream program10, and New Brunswick’s Wildlife Trust Fund11. Other sources of funding, such as the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation Fund12 also exist and partners are encouraged to seek those funding sources out.
Recovery Objective 1: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers.
1. Continue the iBoF Salmon Live Gene Bank (LGB) program with ongoing activities at the Mactaquac and Coldbook Biodiversity Facilities. (Table 1)
Live Gene Banks (LGBs) have been established for the iBoF Salmon for nearly 15 years (initiated in 1998) and activities are currently centered at the DFO Mactaquac and Coldbrook Biodiversity Facilities, in New Brunswick (NB) and Nova Scotia (NS) respectively (see Appendix D for a summary and schematic of the iBoF Salmon LGB Program). The purpose of this program is to maintain the potential for iBoF Salmon recovery by preserving the genetic base thought to be representative of the populations. The LGB program has been used to maintain the persistence of iBoF Salmon to date and a plan to continue for a further 5 years is currently under development. The program will, however, continue to be periodically reviewed and re-evaluated, with adjustments made as appropriate to accommodate new information and changing conditions.
The LGB program is currently focused on four rivers: the Stewiacke and Gaspereau in NS, and the Big Salmon and Point Wolfe in NB. LGB fish have also, however, been released into the Upper Salmon, Weldon Creek, Demoiselle, Petitcodiac, Black, Economy, Great Village, Debert, Folly, Salmon (Colchester), Cornwallis, and Portapique rivers.
- The LGB program should continue to provide river-specific and locally-adapted iBoF Salmon to the four principal iBoF rivers: the Stewiacke and Gaspereau in NS, and the Big Salmon and Point Wolfe in NB.
- The LGB program should continue to provide iBoF Salmon to other rivers with priority given to those identified in the Recovery Strategy’s short term target: Debert, Economy, Folly, Great Village, Portapique, and Upper Salmon. Juveniles should also be provided for release into select iBoF rivers to maximize juvenile production and smolt output, and for research opportunities (e.g., Petitcodiac River; See Measure 8 below for detail on the cross-breeding experiment).
2. Undertake genetic analyses of adult returns to the Big Salmon and Gaspereau rivers to assess origin of spawners. (Table 1)
DFO carries out a genetic assessment of Big Salmon and Gaspereau River adult Salmon returns. Results on the Gaspereau River are used to estimate whether individual suspect returns (candidate spawners in the Gaspereau River program) are of native origin or either aquaculture strays or non-native wild Salmon, and to pedigree (i.e., determine the ancestry) native Salmon. Pedigree information on presumed native Gaspereau River Salmon is then used in the LGB both to prioritize Salmon for spawning, and to minimize inbreeding in the next generation. Information on Big Salmon River adult returns is being used to assess the efficacy of different LGB management strategies in the context of marine survival, reproductive success, and overall fitness (life time reproductive success), and to provide information on the offspring of adult returns (offspring of a portion of adult returns are later captured as out-migrating smolt, brought back into Mactaquac and considered for spawning). Information on the Big Salmon River adult returns can help place wild-produced smolt into population-specific pedigrees, which in turn can help minimize inbreeding, loss of genetic variation, and (potentially) loss of fitness due to adaptation to captive conditions. The monitoring activities outlined in relevant measures under Objective 4 (Measures 27 and 30) will provide the genetic samples for undertaking this measure.
3. Optimize LGB mating strategies to improve the marine survival component of fitness. (Table 1)
Returning adult iBoF Salmon possess genetic characteristics that are important for survival at sea. Their genes should therefore be incorporated into the LGB to ensure that these successful characteristics are represented in future LGB offspring and thus optimize mating strategies to improve fitness (ability to survive and reproduce in their natural habitat). This is particularly true when the number of returning adults is low.
Only a small number of adults return to the Gaspereau River, therefore integrating those few survivors into the LGB mating strategy is important. Confirmed ancestry iBoF Salmon adult returns to iBoF rivers will also be evaluated and prioritized for incorporation into the LGB mating plan.
The steps required to accomplish this measure are as follows:
- Capture the genetics of iBoF Salmon that survived at sea or were progeny (i.e., descendant or offspring) of those that returned from sea.
- Incorporate those individuals (i.e. their representative genetics) into the mating plan.
- Collect and spawn offspring of known multiple-recruit spawners.
The monitoring activities outlined in relevant measures under Objective 4 (Measures 27 and 30) will provide the genetic samples for undertaking this measure.
4. Annually collect wild-exposed13 iBoF Salmon to maintain a large effective population size for each of the four principal LGB populations. (Table 1)
The LGB is designed to have multiple year classes (a “year class” being those fish in a population born in the same year) of each of the principal LGB populations. A minimum number of individuals (parr or smolt) are either collected annually from the wild or reared in captivity. The number integrated into the LGB for each population annually is 200-300 fish, which is sufficient to ensure an appropriate effective population size14. This approach is precautionary and within practical limits for management of the LGB. This measure is currently accomplished for three of the four principal LGB rivers (Big Salmon, Gaspereau, and Stewiacke) and should be maintained.
A similar approach was previously accomplished for the Point Wolfe River (which contained a mix of Big Salmon River and Point Wolfe River stock), but since 2010 a different recovery program approach is being undertaken by PCA to preserve the unique genetic stock found in the Point Wolfe River. Collection for LGB activities will continue as per usual practice once both Fundy National Park rivers contain only this unique genetic stock. See Measure 5 below for the specific details on this new program and activities required to implement it. Measure 31 provides details on assessing the success of this new recovery program for Fundy National Park rivers.
5. Maintain new LGB approach for Fundy National Park rivers: the Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon. (Table 1)
Prior to 2010, adult Salmon, which were collected as juveniles from either Big Salmon River or Point Wolfe River were released into the Point Wolfe River to spawn naturally, and contribute to the production of the next generation of iBoF Salmon. Fundy National Park initiated a change to its iBoF Salmon recovery program in 2010 based on evidence suggesting that the unique Point Wolfe River genetic stock was being lost over generations of mating Big Salmon River and Point Wolfe River Salmon. The new program focuses on Point Wolfe River ancestry Salmon selected from the mixed groups to minimize further loss of this unique genetic strain. Referred to as the Point Wolfe River High Ancestry Program15, the new program will produce high ancestry stock for release at various stages into Park rivers. Until remnant mixed stock migrates from Upper Salmon and Point Wolfe rivers, high ancestry stock produced in captivity will also be released as unfed fry into vacant habitat in Dickson Brook to gain wild exposure. This approach is expected to continue until both Park rivers contain only the unique Point Wolfe River high ancestry stock for broodstock collection.
In addition to the approach above which is designed to maintain the unique Point Wolfe River stock, program managers at Fundy National Park continue to adapt strategies to improve fish fitness. To this end, and as resources permit, high ancestry fish surplus to the above approach will be reared to adults for release back into Fundy National Park rivers to spawn naturally in order to produce progeny free of captive exposure to supplement Park’s in-river populations.
The new approach involves undertaking the following activities:
- Continue to spawn Salmon with high levels of Point Wolfe River ancestry and release juvenile progeny back into Fundy National Park rivers as described above.
- Continue to collect sufficient numbers of wild-exposed high ancestry stock from Fundy National Park rivers for future broodstock with a target of 100 annual matings.
- Continue to release surplus high ancestry broodstock fish at various stages including adults to produce future generations of captive-free juveniles to supplement populations.
- Assess the Point Wolfe River high ancestry captive stock as required to monitor genetic variation and inform strategy direction and/or the development of captive mating plans.
- Continue to adapt strategies to favor recovery based on current state of scientific knowledge.
6. Annually collect and analyze tissue samples to monitor the rate of loss of genetic variation16 for Big Salmon, Gaspereau and Stewiacke river populations. (Table 1)
Atlantic Salmon were collected from the wild in the late 1990s and into 2001 from several iBoF rivers to establish the iBoF Salmon LGB. At the time, these founder fish were tissue sampled and their genetic diversity estimated using established techniques. Tissue samples are taken annually from fish collected from the wild to maintain the LGB (see Measures 27 and 30) and analyzed to assess the genetic variation that remains in the LGB populations. This activity is ongoing and the results are used to plan ongoing collections and mating strategies.
7. Develop annual mating plans for the three principal LGB rivers managed by DFO. (Table 1)
Mating plans are developed annually for the three principal LGB river populations managed by DFO (Stewiacke, Gaspereau, and Big Salmon) to minimize the risk of losing genetic variation and to avoid inbreeding (i.e., mating of genetically, closely-related individuals). Genetic data is used to determine which fish comes from which family and a mating plan is developed to avoid the mating of related individuals. Mating plans include a family equalization process (process that equalizes each mating cross to a known number; thus giving each family an equal opportunity for survival). This approach will limit the influence that differential survival would have in a captive rearing environment, thus potentially reducing adverse effect on fitness. Mating plans related to the fourth principal LGB river (i.e., Point Wolfe) is described in Measure 5 above.
8. Examine the role of the Petitcodiac River in the recovery of iBoF Salmon.
It has long been hypothesized that Salmon from the Petitcodiac River played a key role in maintaining the overall stability of iBoF Salmon populations. This metapopulation theory (i.e., theory that suggests that smaller populations depend on immigrants from larger populations for their persistence) was recently reiterated in a publication by Fraser et al. (2007). Prior to the construction of a causeway in 1968, Atlantic Salmon from the Petitcodiac River, NB contributed significantly to both commercial and recreational fisheries within the iBoF region. The causeway obstructed the passage of adult Salmon and smolt for 42 years until the gates were opened in spring 2010 as part of a larger plan to restore tidal flow and fish passage on the Petitcodiac River (see Actions Completed or Underway in the Recovery Strategy for further detail). The loss of the Petitcodiac as a Salmon production river remains an unproven but potential contributor to the decline or prolonged poor recovery of the iBoF Salmon populations. Because the iBoF Salmon Recovery Strategy was completed prior to the opening of the causeway gates, no specific recovery efforts for the Petitcodiac River were included at the time. However, given that the gates are now opened, the opportunity to direct recovery efforts toward the Petitcodiac River can be re-examined. Additional information regarding the historical importance of the Petitcodiac River can be found in Section 1.7.4 (Freshwater Threats) of the Recovery Strategy.
Re-establishing Salmon on the Petitcodiac River would require a source of donor stock given that Salmon have been extirpated on this river. To date, iBoF Salmon LGB recovery activities have aimed to maintain the genetic diversity of single-river populations, each with presumably local adaptations. The success of using any such river-specific population to attempt restoration in the Petitcodiac is uncertain (i.e., there is little reason to believe that introduction from a nearby river will lead to higher survival than is presently occurring in the Petitcodiac). Alternatives may, however, exist.
A research project (hereafter “the cross-breeding experiment”) was initiated in 2010 to evaluate the use of cross-bred Salmon populations (i.e., populations resulting from cross-breeding Salmon from various iBoF rivers: e.g., Big Salmon River x Point Wolfe River crosses, Gaspereau River x Stewiacke River crosses, North Minas Basin rivers x Stewiacke or Gaspereau River crosses) in iBoF recovery efforts by comparing the survival rates of cross-bred populations with those of single-river populations. The genetic diversity of the cross-bred populations would include a variety of local adaptations from the various parent fish originating from the different iBoF rivers. It is possible that within this more diverse gene pool, there may be characteristics more suitable to successful survival and recovery in the current environment. The Petitcodiac River was used as the study site for this experiment since, as mentioned, no native Salmon population is present in this river. Part of this project involved releasing progeny (i.e., unfed fry) of cross-bred fish into the Pollett River, a tributary of the Petitcodiac River, in 2011 and 2012. The results of this research will be used to inform future iBoF Salmon recovery efforts including any that may be specific to the Petitcodiac River.
The following activities are required to evaluate the success of the cross-breeding experiment and to inform any future recovery efforts on the Petitcodiac River. Further evaluation of the historical importance of the Petitcodiac Salmon population to the persistence of the entire iBoF Salmon collective populations is also valuable as was recommended by Fraser et al. (2007).
a. Evaluate marine and freshwater survival rates of the various cross-bred groups in the cross-breeding experiment.
- i. Monitor and collect tissue samples from emigrating smolts and adult returns. (Table 2)
Various monitoring activities should be undertaken to provide the information needed to evaluate the fitness of the different cross-bred groups from the cross-breeding experiment:
- Emigrating smolt were monitored using a rotary screw trap from 2013 to 2015.
- Adult Salmon returning from sea were monitored using a combination of trapnet and dive surveys from 2014 to 2015 and this monitoring will continue in 2016.
- Tissue samples needed for genetic analysis described in Measure 8a(ii) below were collected from all smolts and adults captured during the above monitoring activities.
To provide an estimate of total number of migrants, mark and recapture techniques will continue to be used where feasible during both of the above monitoring activities.
- ii. Analyse tissue samples collected in 8a(i). (Table 1)
A one-time genetic analysis of all the tissue samples collected from the emigrating smolt and adult returns (mentioned above in Measure 8a(i)) will be undertaken and the results compared with the freshwater and marine survival rates of wild-origin and LGB-origin progeny on the Big Salmon River (mentioned in Measure 27) to gain additional insight into the freshwater and marine survival rates of the various cross-bred groups.
b. Examine the feasibility of iBoF Salmon recovery options for the Petitcodiac River and develop and implement a recovery plan as appropriate.
- i. Determine the most appropriate recovery option for the Petitcodiac River. (Table 1)
Informed by the outcome of Measures 8a(i) and (ii), examine the feasibility and determine the most appropriate of various Salmon recovery options for the Petitcodiac River. Possible options could include simply waiting for natural recolonization to occur, continued opportunistic release of surplus Big Salmon River LGB stock into the Petitcodiac (as outlined in Measure 1) or a focused and specific Petitcodiac River restoration effort.
- ii. Develop and implement a recovery plan for the Petitcodiac River as appropriate. (Table 2)
Pending the review and determination of option in Measure 8b(i) above, a plan to implement the chosen option should be undertaken and developed between DFO and the appropriate stakeholder groups (e.g., the Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition).
c. Conduct analysis of historical data to evaluate the metapopulation theory of the Petitcodiac River. (Table 3)
Theimportance of the Petitcodiac River to the health of the iBoF Salmon populations is not well understood, but historical abundance information and the fact that the Petitcodiac includes approximately 20% of the freshwater habitat in iBoF rivers suggests it was very important to iBoF Salmon. One hypothesis poses that the Petitcodiac River Salmon population was a key driver in the persistence of the overall iBoF Salmon populations (Fraser et al. 2007). Conducting an analysis of historical data may provide some evaluation of the metapopulation theory that the Petitcodiac anchored the iBoF Salmon and contributed to recovery of some of the smaller rivers when localized populations declined.
9. Collect wild-exposed individuals from the cross-breeding experiment on the Petitcodiac River for possible integration into the NB portion of the LGB. (Table 1)
The results of the Petitcodiac cross-breeding experiment (outlined in Measure 8 above) will not be known until adults return in future years. These results (as determined from the tissue sample analysis in Measure 8a(ii)) may indicate that there are benefits to using cross-bred Salmon in recovery efforts rather than single-river stocks, and may indicate that certain crosses are more genetically valuable for recovery than others. This information could be applied to both restoration efforts on the Petitcodiac River (as outlined in Measure 8b) and to improving recovery rates in the principle LGB rivers.
If results of the cross-breeding experiment on the Petitcodiac suggest that the genetic potential of NS river crosses is high, there will be a need to include populations from these NS river crosses into the LGB program at the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility in NB for use in future cross-breeding mating plans. There are, however, significant logistical issues related to fish health requirements in moving Salmon across provincial boundaries. The Salmon released in the Petitcodiac River that were the result of cross breeding with NS origin Salmon are a source of the NS genetic component and are now present in an NB river (i.e. the Petitcodiac River). Wild-exposed emigrating NS cross-bred smolts (as determined from the tissue samples collected and analyse in Measure 8a) were collected in 2013 for possible integration into the NB portion of the LGB maintained at the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility. Individuals collected were maintained in separate tanks at the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility until maturity. A decision will be made with respect to their integration into the LGB or other options for these fish.
Recovery Objective 2: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment.
10. Identify areas of marine and estuarine critical habitat for iBoF Salmon and outline any research activities that need to be undertaken in the Recovery Strategy’s Schedule of Studies. (Table 1)
According to SARA, critical habitat for endangered species must be identified and subsequently protected. The published Recovery Strategy for iBoF Salmon identifies freshwater critical habitat and includes a Schedule of Studies that outlines the research activities required to identify estuarine and marine critical habitat (see DFO 2010, Section 2.5). A DFO Science peer review process in November 2012 updated and synthesed information on important marine and estuarine habitat for iBoF Salmon. This advice is summarized in a Science Advisory Report (DFO 2013) and is being used by DFO to:
- Inform the identification of marine and estuarine critical habitat in an amended Recovery Strategy. This work is underway and is scheduled for completion in 2015/16.
- Update the Schedule of Studies in the amended Recovery Strategy to outline any additional research activities required to further refine knowledge of iBoF Salmon habitat use in the Bay of Fundy. These activities will be undertaken according to the timelines laid out in this schedule.
See also Section 2 in this document for further information on critical habitat for iBoF Salmon.
11. Undertake acoustic smolt tracking and analysis to better understand current marine habitat use and threats. (Table 2)
While the LGB maintains the persistence of iBoF Salmon, adult returns to iBoF rivers are significantly lower than the number of smolts exiting the rivers. Low survival from the smolt-to-grilse stage (i.e., survival during first winter at sea) has been identified as the main reason for the decline of iBoF Salmon. How and when they are dying during the marine portion of their life cycle remains unclear.
Within the past decade, acoustic tracking and marine trawl research has been undertaken to better understand the at-sea migration behaviour of iBoF Salmon. While this research has identified post-smolt habitat from May to August, habitat use from September until the adult Salmon return to their natal rivers remains unknown. Implementation of this project includes both a tracking and data analysis component as described below.
Smolt tracking: The Atlantic Salmon Federation is leading an expanded effort to track smolts/post-smolts throughout the Bay of Fundy using acoustic tracking technology that has previously been successfully used to track wild Atlantic Salmon. Using an expanded network of receivers, smolts exiting a sub-set of iBoF rivers will be tracked in the marine environment over the course of one year. This research will build upon previous work to identify important feeding areas in the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine and to identify potential causes of Salmon mortality.
Multi-stakeholder collaborations and a multi-species (or ecosystem) approach will be sought using the receiver array infrastructure deployed by the Ocean Tracking Network17 (OTN). In this way, tracking results from different species (e.g., fish/mammals that are known predators of Salmon) may provide valuable information on iBoF Salmon and vice versa.
Data Analysis: The tracking data will be analysed to examine smolt and post-smolt habitat use (feeding areas and migration routes) and the duration of time spent in specific areas. This analysis may provide important information on the location and timing of threats encountered by smolts and post-smolts in the marine environment.
12. Examine long-term changes in environmental conditions in the Bay of Fundy and compare with past and present habitat use and anthropogenic threats to identify possible relationships. (Table 3)
Over time, changes in marine environmental conditions (biological, chemical and physical) resulting from anthropogenic (resulting from human activities) or natural sources can make habitat more or less suitable for Salmon. These changes in habitat suitability (quality and quantity of habitat) may limit the survival and recovery of a species. Past and present environmental conditions can be compared to identify trends and major changes. These patterns can be correlated with current habitat use and known anthropogenic threats and impacts to identify possible causal relationships.
The following activities would be involved in undertaking this measure:
- Collect and analyse past and present prey abundance and distribution data in the Bay of Fundy. Historical information can be gathered via literature review of historic prey base information. Current information can be gathered via targeted research surveys.
- Collect and analyse past and present chemical and physical habitat quality characteristic data (i.e. water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, etc.) of the Bay of Fundy. Data can be gathered via consulting existing databases and additional current data can be collected during ongoing projects (e.g., acoustic smolt tracking outlined in Measure 11).
- Correlate findings from “a” and “b” with current iBoF habitat use information collected in Measure 11 to identify any relationships between current habitat use and past changes in the marine environment.
- Identify any areas where ongoing or proposed anthropogenic activities may threaten habitat quality or quantity.
13. Remove/modify tidal barriers in iBoF Salmon estuaries to restore connectivity.
Over time the building of dykes, dams and the development of hydroelectric generating facilities has created barriers to fish passage, caused the degradation and loss of tidal wetland habitat, and led to changes in the dynamics and distribution of sediments in the Bay of Fundy. Modern tidal barriers such as coastal roads and highways, and their associated causeways, culverts and bridges have also had a significant impact on coastal wetlands, tidal rivers and fish passage. As a result, migrating species, such as iBoF Salmon, have likely lost access to potential freshwater and estuarine habitat and historical migration routes.
A collaborative tidal barrier audit conducted in the Bay of Fundy in the early 2000s by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Ecology Action Centre (on the NS side of the Bay) found that a significant percentage of rivers were partially or completely blocked by tidal barriers and that a large proportion of the tidal wetlands have been lost. A collaborative project headed by the Department of Geography at Saint Mary’s University subsequently consolidated and packaged the results from these audits into a single source. A report was produced (van Proosdij and Dobek 2005), a summary website18 developed, and information from these audits transposed into a comprehensive digital spatial database. These data are available by contacting the Department of Geography at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS.
The information in the Tidal Barrier Database could be valuable to restoration groups interested in removing barriers and/or improving fish passage to restore connectivity (i.e., conditions that allow fish and other aquatic organisms to move freely upstream and downstream within a watercourse) to upstream habitat in iBoF estuaries.
The following activities should be undertaken to restore connectivity in iBoF Salmon estuaries. Measure 21 addresses specific activities aimed at improving/restoring connectivity in freshwater habitat.
- a. Regularly update, improve and share the Bay of Fundy Tidal Barrier Database. (Table 2)
Improvements to the Tidal Barrier Database recommended in the 2005 report should be explored. Consideration should also be given to expanding the database to include information on dykes and aboiteaux (i.e., earthen dyke equipped with a wooden gate constructed to stop high tides from inundating marshland) in the Bay. This database should be updated regularly to ensure restored areas are reflected and provided to groups interested in restoring/improving connectivity in iBoF estuaries.
- b. Explore opportunities to plan and implement tidal barrier remediation at priority sites. (Table 3)
Implementing tidal barrier remediation should be undertaken in collaboration with landowners and other partners, with priority to iBoF Salmon critical habitat rivers and secondarily to other priority rivers as outlined in the Recovery Strategy and the “Context and Scope” section of this Action Plan. Funding sources and regulatory permissions will have to be sought in advance. One potential manner to implement tidal barrier remediation projects is through offsetting measures19 when they are required as a result of Fisheries Act regulatory reviews. The priority iBoF Salmon remediation sites will be identified as regional restoration priorities within the DFO Fisheries Protection Program (FPP; the DFO sector responsible for the implementation of offsetting measures).
14. Quantify, monitor and explore further mitigation options for bycatch in marine fisheries. (Table 3)
Bycatch of migrating Salmon smolts in American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) and Atlantic Herring (Clupea harengus) marine fisheries was identified as a threat to iBoF Salmon in the Recovery Strategy. Although Salmon captures in these fisheries are believed to be low and measures to minimize incidental catch and mortality of iBoF Salmon have been implemented (e.g., season and area restrictions, enforcement, live release requirements and mechanisms), the overall impact of even small bycatch amounts on the low iBoF Salmon population size is uncertain. Quantifying iBoF Salmon bycatch in marine fisheries is challenging, but there should be some attempt to review available information to provide an estimate, target relevant fisheries for increased monitoring and explore further options to minimize bycatch as needed.
A number of activities are needed to better quantify bycatch in marine fisheries.
- Correlate current and historical fisheries data including gear used, and Salmon bycatch records with current iBoF Salmon habitat use (as determined in Measure 11) to identify possible high risk areas for fishery interactions.
- Increase monitoring of relevant fisheries in targeted areas to quantify actual bycatch.
- Depending on the outcome of “b” above, undertake an assessment of potential additional mitigation options to minimize bycatch in high risk areas in collaboration with fishers. This Action Plan does not prescribe specific types of mitigation measures (voluntary or regulatory) needed to reduce bycatch levels at this time, but the selection of specific potential future mitigation measures will rely upon the outcome of the quantification of iBoF Salmon bycatch levels and collaboration with relevant fishers.
The monitoring of bycatch in “b” will further support Measure 16 by providing samples of emigrating smolts caught as bycatch in targeted fisheries for inspection of their exposure to diseases and parasites.
15. Improve understanding of marine predation on iBoF Salmon populations. (Table 3)
Marine predation on Salmon, specifically the predation of smolts entering the marine environment, may be affecting the marine survival of iBoF Salmon. A study in the Gulf of Maine (Friedland et al. 2011) reported an increase in several pelagic predatory fish species over the last number of years, such as Silver Hake (Merluccius bilinearis), Red Hake (Urophycis chuss), and Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias), in the areas that serve as migration corridors for post-smolts. There has also been an increase in the abundance of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and gray seals (Halichoerus grypus).
Changes to the spatial distribution of predators (leading to increased interactions with iBoF Salmon) or an increase in predator abundance could potentially be linked to the increase in marine mortality observed in the past two decades. Recent satellite tagging studies have indicated high mortality of kelts (surviving post-spawned adults) in the marine environment that has been linked to large pelagic predators (e.g., Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus); Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus); Lacroix 2014), however this study notes that the impact of large pelagic predators on the potential for recovery of Endangered Salmon populations merits further investigation. The analysis of data from existing acoustic arrays and species tracking projects (e.g., see Measure 11) established within the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine should be completed to continue to improve our understanding of habitat overlap between iBoF Salmon (post-smolts, kelts and adults) and potential predators.
16. Investigate the effects of disease and parasite load on the survival and recovery of iBoF Salmon. (Table 2)
A number of iBoF rivers are known to have endemic fish health issues e.g., the Big Salmon River is a positive river for bacterial kidney disease (BKD). Disease, parasite loading and potential transport/transmission of disease via parasites are considered potential issues affecting the survival rates of iBoF Salmon. The increase of sea cage Salmon aquaculture in the Bay of Fundy has generated questions regarding the impact of fish farming on wild Salmon health, though outbreaks of diseases like furunculosis and infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN) have also occurred in areas where no aquaculture occurs.
To investigate the effects of disease and parasite load on the survival and recovery of iBoF Salmon, the Atlantic Salmon Federation is planning to work with partners in taking the following two-step approach to addressing this question:
- Assess the feasibility of non-lethally testing smolts exiting rivers and adults returning to rivers for indicators of existing health issues / exposure to disease that may be playing a role in poor survival in the marine environment.
- If non-lethal testing is feasible, conduct a focused study to determine whether disease is an obstacle to iBoF Salmon recovery.
17. Examine the relationship between the growth of Salmon aquaculture activities in the Bay of Fundy and iBoF Salmon survival rates. (Table 3)
Although populations of Salmonids (Salmon and Sea Trout/Brook Trout [salvelinus fontinalis]) are seen to naturally fluctuate, a connection between the recent declines in wild Salmon populations and the development of the aquaculture industry in various locations has been hypothesized. Understanding the extent of any relationship between the growth of the Salmon aquaculture activities in the Bay of Fundy and iBoF Salmon survival rates could help reduce any risk this activity may present to the survival or recovery of iBoF Salmon.
The following activities should be undertaken:
- Undertake a comprehensive literature review of the temporal and spatial growth of Salmon aquaculture activities in the Bay of Fundy.
- Examine the temporal and spatial environmental differences between Salmon farm locations and over time (informed in part by Measure 11).
- Analyse information for correlations between historic changes in iBoF Salmon population distribution and abundance and environmental changes in areas of Salmon aquaculture activities.
The implementation of this measure could also have potential relevance to other Salmon populations in the Bay of Fundy.
18. Improve monitoring and management of sea lice.
- a. Continue to use and improve fish farm sea lice mitigation, monitoring and management measures. (Table 2)
The New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries (NB DAAF) and DFO led the development of an Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPMP) for sea lice in NB. The goal of the IPMP is to provide a framework for the prevention, research, monitoring and control strategies required to manage sea lice. The IPMP includes a data collection and analysis component, and a sea lice monitoring program that, among other things, helps ensure that potential impacts to marine resources are reduced.
The IPMP for sea lice provides a comprehensive, strategic framework for minimizing potential impacts to wild aquatic resources in the surrounding environment of fish farms in NB. It is reviewed annually to ensure that goals and principles continue to be met, and a yearly performance report is developed, completed and made publically available. Via the IPMP, the management and mitigation of sea lice in NB should continue to be improved as new information and technology becomes available. Information on this integrated approach to sea lice management in NB is available on the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association website20.
- b. Improve understanding of sea lice abundance and distribution in Bay of Fundy and effects on wild Salmon in the waters outside fish farms. (Table 3)
Outside the immediate environs of Salmon farms there is no monitoring program for wild Salmon or any other potential sources of sea lice. The infectiveness of sea lice varies with larval development stage, time and sea water temperature. Their long distance transport on ocean currents and the extended viability of these parasites in cold sea water allows sea lice to be well situated for possible encounters with seaward migrating Salmon smolts.
Little is known about the temporal and spatial distribution of infective sea lice throughout the Bay of Fundy and their potential impact on wild Atlantic Salmon. Literature and field research is required to assess the distribution and thus potential impact of sea lice propagules (juvenile and egg life stages that aid in the dispersal of the species) in the Bay of Fundy on wild iBoF Salmon. Research should be focused on iBoF Salmon migratory corridors during the mid-April/early-July period when Salmon smolts are most vulnerable to infestations and include the areas near Digby, St. Mary’s Bay and Shelburne in NS. Tracking studies have found that Salmon move up the shore in these areas before re-entering the Bay of Fundy during the feeding migration (Lacroix 2012).
Establishing a sea lice monitoring program in waters outside of fish farms, using a proxy fish species, would also help to better understand sea lice levels and assist in determining the degree to which Salmon farms influence sea lice levels in the Bay of Fundy. Existing sea-lice monitoring programs outside of fish farms in other countries should be examined to help inform the best approach for the Bay of Fundy.
The implementation of this measure could also potentially benefit other Salmon populations in the Bay of Fundy area.
- c. Develop sea lice data-sharing protocol from all sources. (Table 3)
A protocol for sharing sea lice data from all sources (industry, government, non-government) should be developed. Data sharing would facilitate analysis and improvement of farmed Salmon mitigation strategies.
19. Prevent and mitigate impacts of escaped farmed Salmon
- a. Periodically review and improve escapee management regimes for marine finfish farms. (Table 2)
A Code of Containment for Culture of Atlantic Salmon in Marine Net Pens in New Brunswick (the “code”) has been developed by the Salmon farming industry (i.e., the New Brunswick Salmon Grower’s Association21(NBSGA) 2008) in collaboration with NB DAAF and DFO. Complementing the code is the New Brunswick Governance Framework for Containment Management of Marine Salmonid Farms, developed by the NB DAAF and DFO. These documents are aimed at preventing farmed Salmon escapes from marine aquaculture sites in NB, and establishing protocols, requirements and recapture mechanisms to be followed in the event of escapes. Reviewing the existing escapee management regimes in these documents on a periodic basis is a collaborative process, during which all aspects of net pen location and infrastructure, equipment standards, inspection and maintenance, protocols and reporting are discussed and updates are made to the documents as necessary. A review of the documents was completed in 2014-15. This collaborative periodic review process should continue and improvements to the documents should be undertaken as new relevant information and technologies become available.
- b. Develop a code of practice for identifying farmed Salmon escapes. (Table 3)
The possible impacts of aquaculture escapes on wild populations of Atlantic Salmon are outlined in the Recovery Strategy. Farmed Salmon escapes can occur through low-level “leakage” and events such as storms which can cause containment pen breaches. Farmed Salmon have escaped fresh water hatcheries and marine net pen sites (sea cages) in the Bay of Fundy and it is suspected that they have remained in or ascended iBoF rivers. Historically, farmed escapes were identified by “broom” tails and gross fin erosion, but the identification of farmed escapes based on external appearance is becoming increasingly difficult as a result of improved industry rearing practices. New codes of practice (possibly genetic or physical marking programs) are needed for the definitive identification of farmed Salmon escapes.
20. Continue to improve the planning and operation components of aquaculture facilities to mitigate potential threats to iBoF Salmon. (Table 2)
Over time there have been improvements to aquaculture planning and operations practices. With respect to planning, risk assessments to determine appropriate donor stock and site selection for hatcheries and Salmon farms are ongoing and should continue as new information, methods and technologies are acquired. Regarding operations, improvements to monitoring and management of sea lice, and the prevention and mitigation of escaped farmed Salmon are outlined in previous measures. Improvements to other aspects of aquaculture operations including containment, fish health management, effluent management, education and training for aquaculture workers and measures to reduce the impacts of predators, is also ongoing and should continue as new information, methods and technologies are acquired. The implementation of the above approaches aimed at improving planning and operations will require collaboration between multiple agencies and groups.
The implementation of this measure will also have potential benefits to other Salmon populations in the Bay of Fundy.
Recovery Objective 3: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment.
A wide range of ecological effects on rivers, including effects on habitat quality and quantity are believed to be caused by barriers in freshwater. Several measures within this Action Plan are aimed at addressing these effects by improving freshwater habitat quantity (i.e., restoring connectivity) (Measure 21), improving freshwater habitat quality (Measure 22), and supporting work of multi-stakeholders forums in assisting groups in freshwater habitat restoration initiatives (Measure 23).
21. Improve / restore connectivity to iBoF Salmon freshwater habitat
Although low marine survival is believed to be the leading cause of iBoF Salmon population declines and the main factor hindering recovery, factors acting during the freshwater phase of the life cycle, such as barriers and their impact on habitat connectivity, may also impair recovery.
A number of specific activities should be undertaken to improve connectivity in iBoF Salmon freshwater habitat and these can be divided into the three sub-measures outlined below. The implementation of this measure may be a valuable precursor to Measure 22 which speaks to improving freshwater habitat quality, particularly at priority sites. Restoration of tidal barriers in iBoF Salmon estuaries is addressed in Measure 13.
- a. Map and prioritize sites for remediation. (Table 2)
With priority to iBoF Salmon critical habitat rivers and the lower segments of other priority watersheds as outlined in the Recovery Strategy and the “Context and Scope” section of this Action Plan, existing watercourse crossings should be:
- Digitally mapped and described, and their passability to juvenile and adult Salmon assessed.
- Assessed for impacts on watershed connectivity using established tools and methods (e.g. Côté et al. 2009).
- Using the above information, prioritize barrier sites for remediation. The prioritization planning should include consideration of the cost of remediating each crossing as well as any need to restrict the spread of invasive species and/or increase the productivity of native forage species for iBoF Salmon such as gaspereau (Alosa spp.).
- b. Explore opportunities to plan and implement barrier remediation at priority sites. (Table 2)
Implementing barrier remediation will typically involve collaboration with landowners and other partners. Funding sources and regulatory permissions will have to be sought in advance. As outlined in Measure 13b for tidal barrier remediation, offsetting options and identified DFO FPP priorities is one potential manner to implement freshwater barrier remediation projects.
- c. Maintain connectivity at new watercourse crossings. (Table 1)
Connectivity should be maintained at all new watercourse crossings by undertaking the following activities:
- Consider the use of new and improved watercourse crossing designs when feasible.
- Share information about optimal crossing designs with proponents.
- With priority to critical habitat rivers, undertake compliance monitoring at watercourse crossings during and after construction to ensure that new structures are properly designed and installed.
22. Improve freshwater habitat quality.
Many iBoF headwater streams flow through lands used for farming, forestry, commercial or residential purposes. Freshwater habitat in iBoF Salmon rivers is threatened by the effects of agriculture, urbanization, poor forestry practices, mining, road building and other factors related to human activities (DFO 2010). Some of the effects from these human activities could include direct sediment entry into iBoF rivers leading to impacts on iBoF Salmon (i.e., embedding spawning sites and suffocating eggs) and degradation of riparian zones (i.e., interface area between land and the river or stream) resulting in the destabilization of stream banks, increased water temperature and increased sediment loading. Although the Recovery Strategy indicates that freshwater habitat quality is sufficient to maintain populations despite ongoing degradation, effects from local conditions may act on populations within individual rivers and could impact recovery if survival in the marine environment increases. Efforts to minimize local effects to fish habitat, particularly in critical habitat and other identified priority rivers should be undertaken.
The following specific activities are needed to improve freshwater habitat quality.
- a. Identify and prioritize areas that would benefit from improved habitat quality. (Table 3)
Specific problem areas needing habitat restoration work (e.g., areas affected by sedimentation, areas requiring riparian revegetation) should be identified, described in terms of their specific issue and needs, mapped and prioritized for restoration. Priority should be given to iBoF Salmon critical habitat rivers and other identified priority rivers.
- b. Implement projects and initiatives to restore habitat quality in identified priority sites in iBoF watersheds. (Table 2)
Implementing freshwater habitat quality restoration projects will typically involve collaboration with landowners and other partners. Restorative works have been conducted to date in iBoF watersheds by various non-government organizations, industry and Aboriginal groups with guidance from provincial and federal regulatory bodies. As outlined in Measure 13b and 21b, funding sources and regulatory permissions will have to be sought in advance, and offsetting options and identified DFO FPP priorities is one potential manner to implement freshwater habitat restoration projects. Work should be undertaken in collaboration with implementation of Measure 21 to ensure correspondence between the identification of priority areas for restoration and the greatest benefit is achieved.
- c. Develop and distribute public education materials on how to maintain habitat quality. (Table 3)
Educational materials could be created and distributed to landowners, industry, and local watershed user-groups to encourage the use of best management practices designed to maintain water quality.
23. Continue the work of multi-stakeholder forums that develop and share information to support stakeholders in leading restoration and enhancement activities. (Table 2)
Many different groups and organizations are involved in watercourse enhancement/rehabilitation initiatives in both NB and NS. An organizational structure, such as a multi-stakeholder forum, is helpful in enabling the various freshwater recovery initiatives to proceed in an efficient, collaborative, standardized and prioritized manner.
Since 2006, the Fundy Model Forest, a not-for-profit registered organization aimed at enhancing and restoring healthy forest ecosystems, has led the multi-stakeholder Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Habitat Stewardship Forum. This Forum is focused on iBoF Salmon and general Atlantic Salmon freshwater habitat issues, and includes participants from government organizations, non-government organizations, First Nations, Aboriginal organizations, industry, research organizations and other stakeholders.
The objectives of the Forum are to build capacity among its members, identify collaboration opportunities, fulfill communication and training needs and develop and deliver tools for data collection and analysis for planning and restoration initiatives. To date, the Forum has delivered workshops in NB and is partnering with Adopt-A-Stream to deliver workshops in NS. The Forum’s activities should progress to be more “hands-on” as they work to develop and share standardized data collections and best practices, exchange knowledge and assist groups with habitat stewardship activities focused on iBoF Salmon critical habitat rivers and other identified priority iBoF watersheds.
24. Examine whether smolts are leaving iBoF rivers earlier and at a smaller size than in the past. (Table 3)
Recent studies have raised concern that smolts are leaving some rivers earlier, and at a smaller size than in the past and thus missing the “optimum environmental migration window” (Friedland et al. 2012, Russel et al. 2012). Data analysis should be initiated to examine whether this is occurring in iBoF rivers by comparing the run timing of smolt on the Big Salmon River in the late 1960s early 1970s to those in the 2000s. If this phenomenon is observed, further work should be initiated to identify what factors might be causing earlier migration, whether this might be limiting iBoF survival and recovery, and what actions may be required to address this concern.
25. Explore and implement measures to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species. (Table 3)
Invasive species can negatively impact local fish populations through various means, including direct predation, competition, habitat displacement, alteration of the forage base and disease. Although invasive species are not specifically identified as a threat in the iBoF Salmon Recovery Strategy, the Recovery Team has raised concerns. Invasive species have been observed in areas identified as critical habitat for iBoF Salmon, e.g., Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are present in Folly Lake (part of Folly River, NS).
Existing federal and provincial measures can be used to control the movement of invasive species. The federal Fisheries General Regulations (section 56), whose application follows the National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms (PDF 198,86 KB)22, regulates the movement of fish in general and has application for invasive species. NS has new regulations (Live Fish Possession Regulations23) that prohibits the moving of live fish and an initiative to develop the same is underway in NB.
Despite this, additional measures are needed and could include: legislation to support the mandatory destruction or retention of any individual aquatic invasive species captured, development of early detection mechanisms for invasive species before populations are established, and implementation of control techniques/ mechanisms with a high potential for success based on proven research and feasibility. Problem areas for implementation should be prioritized for iBoF rivers containing critical habitat and other identified priority rivers. The successful implementation of this measure would require dialogue, engagement and collaboration between fisheries managers, non-government organizations and recreational anglers.
26. Undertake research that examines freshwater threats related to changes in environmental conditions, contaminants and depressed population phenomena. (Table 3)
In addition to those addressed above, the iBoF Salmon Recovery Strategy outlines a number of other freshwater threats to the survival and recovery of the species. These include changes in environmental conditions, contaminants and depressed population phenomena (e.g., abnormal behaviour due to low abundance or inbreeding depression). Research in these areas should be undertaken to learn more about these threats, identify which factors are most limiting to iBoF Salmon recovery and which mitigation options would provide the most effective improvements.
Recovery Objective 4: Assess population status, sustainability and recovery feasibility.
27. Assess annual status of Big Salmon River wild Salmon population.(Table 1)
The status of iBoF Salmon populations has typically been assessed using data from the two most studied rivers: Big Salmon River and Stewiacke River. Salmon assessment activities on the Big Salmon River have been ongoing since the mid-1960s and are important to determine the status, sustainability and recovery feasibility of wild Big Salmon River Salmon, as well as to make inferences about the status of the broader iBoF Salmon population assemblage. The Big Salmon River is currently the only river for which wild iBoF Salmon abundance is assessed annually. Assessment activities on these other rivers are undertaken mainly to evaluate the LGB program’s success (see measures under Objective 1). However, returning adult Salmon on the Gaspereau River have been annually captured, sampled and genotyped similar to the Big Salmon River assessment.
Completing the Big Salmon River assessment involves monitoring activities (i.e., capturing and estimating smolt and adult Salmon abundance) as well as genetic analysis to determine origin (wild or LGB). The monitoring activities and genetic analysis undertaken to complete the assessments described in both this measure and Measure 29 below are one in the same and are described below.
- Smolt monitoring: Smolts exiting the Big Salmon River are monitored using a rotary screw trap. A portion of the smolts captured during the entire smolt migration period (early-May to mid-June) are retained for the LGB program. All retained smolts are tissue sampled and tagged for later identification. The genetic analysis provides the information necessary to determine the origin of the migrating smolts (whether they are the progeny of wild individuals or from the LGB program). A portion of the remaining captured smolts are also marked before release to provide a population estimate via mark recapture methods.
- Adult monitoring: the number of wild adult Salmon returning to the Big Salmon River is estimated annually based on diver observation counts of Salmon in the major holding pools. If a sufficient number of returning adults are observed, these holding pools are seined and fish are tissue sampled and marked before release. In the fall (typically mid-to-late October), divers swim the river and count the number of marked vs unmarked fish. The divers’ observation rates obtained by this mark recapture technique provide an estimate of adult returns. Genetic material is also collected and analysed from all captured adults to determine their origin (wild or LGB).
- Return rates: The mark recapture results, and the results of the genetic analysis, are used to determine a population estimate of the wild origin smolts exiting the Big Salmon River, as well as a population estimate of wild returning adults. The information is used to determine yearly smolt-to-adult return rates (i.e. marine survival – how many smolts survive in the marine environment and return as adults to the river).
28. Assess success of various LGB strategies on the Big Salmon River (Table 1)
The success of the various LGB strategies being used on the Big Salmon River must be evaluated to inform recovery efforts on this river and throughout the iBoF and thus recovery feasibility overall. This work is ongoing and required for as long as the LGB program is needed to ensure the survival and recovery of iBoF Salmon.
Wild and wild-exposed LGB Salmon are monitored as migrating smolts during the smolt monitoring activities described in Measure 27. Genetic sampling and analysis is used to determine the life history stage at which the LGB fish were released into the river, and from which family they originated. This information is used to determine optimal release strategies and families.
LGB return adults are also monitored during the adult monitoring described in Measure 27. Genetic sampling and analysis of all captured adult returns is used to determine their origin (family and release strategy) to assess which LGB Salmon were most successful in surviving to the marine phase.
Marine survival rates of LGB origin Salmon can then be estimated using the population estimates of LGB origin smolts and returning LGB origin adults in a given year.
29. Conduct a range-wide juvenile electrofishing survey in iBoF rivers. (Table 3)
Abundance of iBoF Salmon in other rivers has typically been assessed by electrofishing to monitor juvenile abundance. The last range-wide electrofishing surveys were carried out from 2000 to 2003. The results of those surveys suggested ongoing river-specific extirpations or abundances so low they could not be detected. It is thought that juvenile abundance in iBoF rivers remains well below recovery targets. A more current range-wide juvenile electrofishing survey in a large subset of iBoF rivers would provide an assessment of abundances relative to the last broad scale juvenile electrofishing survey. This work would provide another index to assess the overall status of iBoF Salmon by comparing with population abundance information gathered on the Big Salmon River and the past range-wide electrofishing surveys. This information would also assist in evaluating progress toward recovery (i.e., establishment of self-sustaining populations).
30. Determine the best LGB strategy for recovery in Nova Scotia iBoF rivers. (Table 1)
The Stewiacke and Gaspereau rivers are the two principal LGB rivers in NS. The LGB strategy on the Stewiacke River has consisted of releasing Salmon of various life stages, and collecting parr in the fall by electrofishing at targeted sites. Fish collections for the LGB on the Gaspereau River are undertaken using fyke nets and by collecting smolts captured in the White Rock fish ladder downstream bypass at the Black River hydroelectric facility.
Recent analysis indicates that parental origin and numbers of parents contributing to adult returns in these two watersheds can be estimated using these data. However, the analysis is based on only a few sites.
Determining the best LGB strategy for NS iBoF rivers will involve the following activities:
- Conduct a synoptic juvenile electrofishing survey of the Stewiacke River. This would provide information on numbers of LGB parents contributing to the Stewiacke River LGB and inform future decisions on LGB activities aimed at maintaining the fitness of iBoF Salmon on this river.
- Continue to collect smolts on the Gaspereau River as described above.
- Undertake an analysis (to be completed in 2016) of Gaspereau and Stewiacke river data.
31. Assess the success of LGB strategies in the Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon rivers. (Table 1)
This measure is similar to Measure 27 for the Big Salmon River, as Fundy National Park operates rotary screw traps (RST) and monitors adult returns on the Upper Salmon and Point Wolfe rivers to assess populations in each river as well as the effectiveness of release strategies.
In addition to an assessment tool to estimate in-river survival of various release strategies and inform adult return rate estimates, RSTs are also used to collect smolts for LGB and/or other supportive rearing programs to produce fish for later release back into Fundy National Park rivers.
The following activities will continue to assess the status of populations on the Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon rivers and contribute to the LGB program in Fundy National Park rivers.
- Smolt monitoring to assess release strategy effectiveness and overall river population condition.
- Annual adult return monitoring via snorkel surveys to estimate rates of marine survival for migrating smolts.
Objective 5: Communicate and increase the general awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon.
32. Encourage the involvement of new and existing partners in recovery efforts. (Table 1)
Existing Recovery Team members are actively engaged in iBoF Salmon recovery efforts. There may, however, be other potential partners interested in participating in recovery efforts. Efforts should be made to engage new potential partners via promoting media coverage of recovery efforts and projects, and through targeted direct communication (e.g., emails, phone calls, and letters) with specific groups (e.g. recreational watershed users).
33. Promote and host Recovery Team meetings as opportunities for communication and collaboration among all team members. (Table 1)
The Recovery Team, first formed in 2000, continues to meet twice annually and meetings are an opportunity for members to share information and ideas on current and planned recovery measures, as well as to discuss emergent issues. Topic-specific working groups are occasionally assembled to address specific issues and a DFO Science-led Planning Group reviews specific scientific projects. A summary of the Recovery Team’s key functions are outlined in the Recovery Strategy, and current Recovery Team membership is included in Appendix C.
Given the potential listing of other populations of Atlantic Salmon in the Maritimes Region of DFO, the structure, function and scope of the Recovery Team may need to be re-evaluated in coming years.
34. Encourage compliance and voluntary stewardship actions. (Table 1)
Communication tools (e.g., pamphlets, signage placed near rivers) should be developed that are specifically designed to encourage compliance among those engaged in activities directly impacting iBoF Salmon and its habitat. These communication tools should aim to change behaviours and encourage voluntary actions that would benefit the species.
35. Communicate key milestones in recovery and new knowledge and discoveries. (Table 2)
Many different organizations contribute to the protection and recovery of iBoF Salmon and it is important for everyone, including the general public, to be aware of significant developments. Information about key recovery efforts and milestones should be communicated (e.g., media coverage and/or annual newsletters) to raise awareness among interested parties, to focus and encourage the efforts of those involved in recovery efforts and to encourage new partners to become involved.
1.3 Implementation Schedule
The Implementation Schedule presents the recovery measures to be taken to implement the Recovery Strategy and are organized within three tables (Tables 1, 2 and 3) depending on identified responsible party and/or collaborators. To facilitate linkages, the recovery measures described in each table are organized in the same numerical order as the corresponding measures presented in the preceding section.
Table 1 identifies the recovery measures to be led by DFO or PCA, though these may involve participation or collaboration from other parties. Table 2 identifies the recovery measures to be led by other parties, though DFO or PCA may be involved as a participant or collaborator. Where available, these tables include additional details such as proposed monitoring methods, priority of each measure, threat(s) or concern(s) being addressed and the status and timeline for completion of each measure. Some measures are multi-faceted and collaborative in nature and can only be successful if a range of participants are involved. Consequently certain measures are split into sub-measures which appear in more than one of the tables. Table 3 presents those measures which would be desirable to undertake in support of the species’ survival or recovery, but which currently have no identified lead or partners. These activities may offer good opportunities for interested groups to become involved in the recovery of iBoF Salmon. If your organization is interested in participating in one of these measures, please contact the Species at Risk Maritimes Region office at firstname.lastname@example.org; 1-866-891-0771.
Table Column Headings:
Recovery Measures: The Recovery Measures column lists the activities or actions that will be taken to implement the Recovery Strategy, including those to achieve the population and distribution objectives and address the threat(s) or concern(s) to the species. They are linked directly to the recovery objectives and approaches provided in the Recovery Strategy and are relevant to the geographic scope of the Action Plan. Where appropriate, it includes the method for monitoring the recovery measure.
Recovery Approach: The Recovery Approach column lists the numbered approach(es) to which the stated recovery measure relates. The numbers correspond to those outlined in Section 1.1 of this plan.
Lead and Partners: The Lead and Partner column lists the organization expected to implement the stated recovery measures whether as a lead or as a partner. This Action Plan is also intended to encourage other groups to become involved and these future partnerships may not be completely captured within this document at this time. The following is a list of acronyms used in Implementation Tables 1 and 2.
- AAS: Adopt-A-Stream
- ACFFA: Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association
- ASF: Atlantic Salmon Federation
- BSR: Big Salmon River
- CBWES: CB Wetlands and Environmental Specialists
- DFO: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- FFFN: Fort Folly First Nation
- FMF: Fundy Model Forest
- GASP: Gaspereau River
- NBDAAF: New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries
- NGO: Non-government Organization
- NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- NSDFA: Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
- NSPI: Nova Scotia Power Incorporated
- NSSA: Nova Scotia Salmon Association
- NSTIR: Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
- OTN: Ocean Tracking Network
- PCA: Parks Canada Agency
- PFRC: Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition
- PWR: Point Wolfe River
- SMU: Saint Mary’s University
- STEW: Stewiacke River
- USR: Upper Salmon River
Priority: Priority levels (low, medium or high) are assigned to reflect the direct contribution a recovery measure is expected to have on addressing the stated threat or concern under the relevant recovery objective, and thus the degree to which the activity, if completed, is expected to contribute to the survival or recovery of iBoF Salmon. It does not take into account the priorities and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations, but may be used to inform decisions on funding as well as departmental and conservation priorities.
- High priority measures are considered those most likely to have an immediate and/or direct influence on attaining the recovery objective for iBoF Salmon and thus considered to be most urgently needed to ensure the species’ survival or of highest importance for the species’ recovery. In some cases, a high priority action may be an essential precursor to a measure that contributes to the recovery of the species.
- Medium priority measures may have a less immediate or less direct influence on reaching the recovery objectives, but are still important for recovery of iBoF Salmon populations.
- Low priority recovery measures will likely have an indirect or gradual influence on reaching the recovery objectives, but are considered important contributions to the knowledge base and/or public involvement in, and acceptance of, measures required for iBoF Salmon survival and recovery.
Threats or concerns addressed: The Threats or concerns addressed column includes the main threat to the survival or recovery of the species or concern being addressed by the stated recovery measure.
Status/Timeline: The Status and Timeline column reflects whether an activity has been initiated (i.e., underway), or is a new activity, and the estimated timeline to complete the measure from the date of publication of the final Action Plan or whether the measure is meant to be ongoing over time (i.e., continuous).
Long Description for Table 1
Table 1, titled Recovery measures for iBoF Salmon to be led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or Parks Canada Agency, identifies the recovery measures to be led by DFO or PCA, though these may involve participation or collaboration from other parties as identified in the table. The table is comprised of seven columns. Column headings, from left to right, are: Number, Recovery Measures, Recovery Approach, Lead and Partner, Priority, Threats or Concerns Addressed, and Status and Timeline. The table also contains a single row for each of the eighteen recovery measures outlined, which are grouped, as appropriate, under one of the five relevant recovery objectives of the Recovery Strategy. The table is read horizontally. Broad Strategy 1 is to: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers. It includes nine measures: #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8aii & bi, and 9. Broad Strategy 2 is to: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment. It includes one measure: #10 – identify areas of marine and estuarine critical habitat for iBoF Salmon. Broad Strategy 3 is to: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment. It includes one measure: #21c – maintain connectivity at new watercourse crossings. Broad Strategy 4 is to: Assess iBoF Salmon population status, sustainability, and recovery feasibility. It includes four measures: #27, 29, 30, and 31. Broad Strategy 5 is to: Communicate and increase the general awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon. It includes three measures: #32, 33, and 34.
|#||Recovery Measures||Recovery Approach||Lead and Partner||Priority||Threats or concern addressed||Status / Timeline|
|Recovery Objective 1: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers.|
Continue the iBoF Salmon Live Gene Bank (LGB) program with ongoing activities at Mactaquac and Coldbrook Biodiversity Facilities.
DFO – BSR, STEW and GASP
PCA – PWR
Recovery Team members
(partners on project specific basis)
|High||Conserve the genetic characteristics of iBoF Salmon;|
Depressed population phenomenon
|Underway / Continuous|
Annual assessment activities and program reviews on a 5-year cycle
|2||Undertake genetic analyses of adult returns to the Big Salmon River and Gaspereau River toassess origin of spawners.||1.2; 4.2||Lead|
DFO – BSR, and GASP
Various Recovery Teammembers
|High||Minimize the loss of fitness; Minimize loss of genetic variation; Maintaining local adaptations||Underway|
Optimize LGB mating strategies to improve the marine survival component of fitness.
Fort Folly First Nation; Nova Scotia Salmon Association
|High||Minimize loss of fitness; maintain wild adaptations||New / Developmental with research trials likely over the next 3 years|
|4||Annually collect wild-exposed iBoF Salmon to maintain a large effective population size for each of the four principal LGB populations: Big Salmon, Stewiacke, Gaspereau and Point Wolfe rivers||1.3||Lead|
DFO – BSR, STEW and GASP
PCA – PWR
|High||Loss of genetic diversity; maintenance of minimum effective population sizes; depressed population phenomenon||Underway / Annually|
Maintain new LGB approach for Fundy National Park rivers, PWR and USR.
|a. b. c. High|
d, e Medium
|Loss of fitness; extinction/extirpation of iBoF Salmon populations||Underway / Continuous|
|6||Annually collect and analyze tissue samples to monitor the rate of loss of genetic variation for Big Salmon, Gaspereau, and Stewiacke river populations.||1.3||Lead|
DFO – BSR, STEW and GASP
|Medium||Loss of genetic diversity||Underway / Annually|
|7||Develop annual mating plans for the three principal LGB populations managed by DFO: Big Salmon, Gaspereau, and Stewiacke rivers.||1.3||Lead|
|High||Risk of inbreeding; loss of genetic diversity||Underway / Annually|
Examine the role of the Petitcodiac River in the recovery of iBoF Salmon
|Conservation of the genetic characteristics of iBoF Salmon; loss of fitness; extirpation of iBoF Salmon from the Petitcodiac River||a. Not Started / within 2-5 years|
b. Not Started / within 2-5 years
|9||Collect wild-exposed individuals from the cross-breeding experiment on the Petitcodiac River for possible integration into the NB portion of the LGB.||1.3||Lead|
|Medium||loss of adaptive traits by inbreeding / outbreeding depression; loss of distinct populations||Completed|
|Recovery Objective 2: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment.|
Identify areas of marine and estuarine critical habitat for iBoF Salmon in an amended Recovery Strategy
|2.1 and 2.2||Lead|
|Lack of knowledge of estuarine and marine habitat characteristics; destruction of habitat||a. Underway / 2015/16|
b. Not started / 5 years
|Recovery Objective 3: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment.|
Improve / restore connectivity to iBoF Salmon freshwater habitat
NGOs; Industry; PCA; Landowners
|High||Freshwater barriers to fish passage||Underway / Ongoing until completed|
|Recovery Objective 4: Assess iBoF Salmon population status, sustainability, and recovery feasibility|
Assess annual status of the Big Salmon River wild Salmon population.
|High||Assessment of population sustainability and progress towards recovery||Underway / Continuous & annual|
|28||Assess the success of various LGB strategies on the Big Salmon River.||4.2||Lead|
|High||Conservation of the genetic characteristics of iBoF Salmon||Underway (frequency needs to be evaluated)|
Determine the best LGB strategy for recovery in Nova Scotia iBoF rivers by:
|4.2||Lead (a, b, c)|
|Conservation of the genetic characteristics of iBoF Salmon; loss of fitness||Underway (completion in 2016)|
Assess the success of LGB strategies in Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon rivers by
|a. b. High||Extinction/extirpation of iBoF Salmon populations||Underway / frequency to be evaluated|
|Recovery Objective 5: Communicate and increase the general awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon|
|32||Encourage the involvement of new and existing partners in recovery efforts.||5.1||Lead|
Other government partners and Recovery Team members
|Low||Lack of public awareness and involvement||Underway /|
|33||Promote and host Recovery Team meetings as opportunities for communication and collaborations among all team members||5.2||Members of the Recovery Team; DFO||High||Extinction of iBoF Salmon populations||Underway / Continuous|
|34||Encourage compliance and voluntary stewardship actions.||5.2||Lead|
Members of Recovery Team
|Low||Lack of public awareness and compliance||Underway /|
Some new tools to be developed
Long Description for Table 2
Table 2, titled Collaborative recovery measures for iBoF Salmon to be led by other parties but where Fisheries and Oceans Canada or Parks Canada Agency may be partner, identifies the recovery measures to be led by other parties, though DFO or PCA may be involved as a participant or collaborator. Table 2 has the same layout to Table 1. It is comprised of seven columns with the following headings, from left to right: Number, Recovery Measures, Recovery Approach, Lead and Partner, Priority, Threats or Concerns Addressed, and Status and Timeline. The table also contains a single row for each of the eleven recovery measures outlined, which are grouped, as appropriate, under one of the five relevant recovery objectives of the Recovery Strategy. The table is read horizontally. Broad Strategy 1 is to: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers. It includes one measure with two subcomponents which aim to examine the role of the Petitcodiac River in the recovery of iBoF Salmon. Broad Strategy 2 is to: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment. It includes six measures: #11, 13a, 16, 18a, 19a, and 20. Broad Strategy 3 is to: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment. It includes three measures: #21a&b, 22b and 23. There are no collaborative measures under Broad Strategy 4 which is to: Assess iBoF Salmon population status, sustainability, and recovery feasibility. Broad Strategy 5 is to: Communicate and increase the general awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon. It includes one measure: #35 which is to communicate key milestones in recovery and new knowledge and discoveries.
|#||Recovery Measures||Recovery Approach||Lead and Partner||Priority||Threats or concern addressed||Status / Timeline|
|Recovery Objective 1: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers.|
Examine the role of the Petitcodiac River in the recovery of iBoF Salmon
ASF, AMEC (for NB DELG), DFO
|Extirpation of iBoF Salmon from the Petitcodiac River; loss of genetic diversity||a. Underway / Continue through to 2016|
b. New / pending outcome of 8b(i)
|Recovery Objective 2 : Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment.|
|11||Undertake acoustic smolt tracking and analyze data to better understand current marine habitat use and threats.||2.1 and 2.3||Lead|
OTN, FFFN, PCA, NOAA, University partners, DFO
|High||Environmental shifts / changes impacting feeding areas, migration routes and at-sea survival||New / 2014-2018|
Remove / modify tidal barriers in iBoF Salmon estuaries to restore connectivity
|a. Medium||Barriers to fish passage||New / Continuous|
Investigate the effects of disease and parasite load on survival and recovery of iBoF Salmon by:
University partners, DFO
|a, b. High||Endemic diseases in iBoF rivers; disease outbreaks on aquaculture farms; transmission of disease via parasites||New / 4 years starting in 2015|
Improve monitoring and management of sea lice
NSDFA, ACFFA, ASF, pharmaceutical industry
|High||Presence of sea-lice at aquaculture farms||Underway / long-term|
Prevent and mitigate impacts of escaped farmed Salmon
|2.4||ACFFA, NBDAAF, NSDFA, ASF, DFO||Medium||Aquaculture escaped Salmon interbreeding with wild iBoF Salmon||Underway / 1 year for current review, periodically thereafter|
|20||Continue to improve the planning and operation components of aquaculture facilities to mitigate potential threats to iBoF Salmon.||2.4||Lead|
Aquaculture industry; DFO
|Medium||Farmed / wild Salmon interactions||Underway / Continuous|
|Recovery Objective 3: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment.|
Improve / restore connectivity to iBoF Salmon freshwater habitat
NGOs; Industry; PCA; Landowners
|High||Freshwater barriers to fish passage||Underway / Ongoing until completed|
Improve freshwater habitat quality
NGOs, industry, Aboriginal groups
|Low||Degradation and decreased carrying capacity of freshwater habitat||Underway / Continuous (Annually)|
|23||Continue the work of multi-stakeholder forums that develop and share information to support stakeholders in leading restoration and enhancement activities.||3.2||Lead|
|Medium||Degradation of freshwater habitat||Underway / Continuous|
|Recovery Objective 5 : Communicate and increase the general awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon|
|35||Communicate key milestones in recovery and new knowledge and discoveries.||5.1||Members of the Recovery Team||Low||Lack of public awareness / knowledge||Underway /|
Long Description for Table 3
Table 3, titled Remaining opportunities for work to contribute towards iBoF Salmon recovery objectives, identifies the recovery measures which would be desirable to undertake in support of the species survival or recovery but which currently have no identified lead or partners. Table 3 has a similar layout to Table 1 and 2 however it is comprised of only four columns with the following headings, from left to right: Number, Recovery Measures, Recovery Approach, and Threats or Concerns Addressed. The table contains a single row for each of the thirteen recovery measures outlined, which are grouped, as appropriate, under one of the five relevant recovery objectives of the Recovery Strategy. The table is read horizontally. Broad Strategy 1 is to: Conserve iBoF Salmon genetic characteristics and re-establish self-sustaining populations to iBoF rivers. It includes one measure: #8c which aims to conduct analysis of historical data to evaluate the metapopulation theory of the Petitcodiac River. Broad Strategy 2 is to: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment. It includes seven measures: #12, 13b, 14, 15, 17, 18a&b, and 19b. Broad Strategy 3 is to: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the freshwater environment. It includes four measures: #22a & c, 24, 25 and 26. Broad Strategy 4 is to: Assess iBoF Salmon population status, sustainability, and recovery feasibility. It includes one measure #28 which aims to conduct a range-wide juvenile electrofishing survey in iBoF rivers. There are no remaining opportunities identified under Broad Strategy 5 which is to: Communicate and increase the general awareness of the status and recovery of iBoF Salmon.
|#||Recovery Measures||Recovery Approach||Threats or Concern Addressed|
Examine the role of the Petitcodiac River in the recovery of iBoF Salmon
|1.1||Extirpation of iBoF Salmon from the Petitcodiac River; loss of genetic diversity|
|Recovery Objective 2: Identify and remedy anthropogenic threats limiting survival and/or recovery of iBoF Salmon in the marine environment.|
Examine long-term changes in environmental conditions in the Bay of Fundy and compare with past and present habitat use and anthropogenic threats to identify possible relationships.
|2.1||Environment and ecological community shifts impacting habitat quality|
Remove / modify tidal barriers in iBoF Salmon estuaries to restore connectivity
|2.3||Barriers to fish passage|
Quantify, monitor and explore further mitigation options for bycatch in marine fisheries.
|2.3||Incidental catches of iBoF Salmon in marine and estuarine fisheries|
|15||Improve understanding of marine predation on iBoF Salmon populations.||2.3||Ecological community shifts impacting at-sea survival|
Examine the relationship between the growth of Salmon aquaculture activities in the Bay of Fundy and iBoF Salmon survival rates.
|2.3||Interactions between wild iBoF and farmed Salmon; potential for disease/sea-lice transmission and genetic interbreeding|
Improve monitoring and management of sea lice
|2.2||Presence of sea-lice outside aquaculture farms|
Prevent and mitigate impacts of escaped farmed Salmon
|2.4||Aquaculture escapes interbreeding with wild iBoF Salmon|
Improve freshwater habitat quality.
|3.1||Degradation of habitat and water quality|
|24||Examine whether smolt are leaving iBoF rivers earlier and at a smaller size than in the past.||3.3||Unknown freshwater threats to survival and recovery|
|25||Explore and implement measure to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.||3.4||Competition and predation by non-native species|
|26||Undertake research that examines freshwater threats related to changes in environmental conditions, contaminants, and depressed population phenomena||3.1, 3.3 and 3.4||Lack of understanding of freshwater threats to iBoF Salmon survival and recovery|
|Recovery Objective 4: Assess iBoF Salmon population status, sustainability, and recovery feasibility|
|29||Conduct a range-wide juvenile electrofishing survey in iBoF rivers.||4.1||Extinction of iBoF Salmon populations|
2. Critical Habitat
2.1 Identification of the Species’ Critical Habitat
Critical habitat is defined under section 2 in the SARA as the “habitat necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species”.
Habitat of aquatic species at risk is further defined under subsection 2(1) in the SARA as:
“spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply, migration and any other areas on which aquatic species depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes, or areas where aquatic species formerly occurred and have the potential to be reintroduced”.
Critical habitat for iBoF Salmon has been identified to the extent possible in Section 2.5 of the Recovery Strategy (DFO 2010). The Recovery Strategy identifies freshwater critical habitat areas in ten rivers: Gaspereau, Stewiacke, Debert, Folly, Great Village, Portapique, Economy, Upper Salmon, Point Wolfe and Big Salmon rivers. The Recovery Strategy also contains details about this identified critical habitat including its geographical location and biophysical functions, features and attributes. A Schedule of Studies (Section 2.5.3 of the Recovery Strategy) outlines research activities required to help identify potential areas of estuarine and marine critical habitat.
Since the publication of the Recovery Strategy in 2010, DFO has undertaken a science peer review process in November 2012 to provide an update and synthesis of information to help inform on important marine and estuarine habitat for iBoF Salmon. A Science Advisory Report was produced (DFO 2013). Advice from this process is being used to inform the development of an estuarine and marine critical habitat identification and a revised Schedule of Studies to be included in an amended Recovery Strategy. This work is underway. See Recovery Measure 10.
2.2 Examples of Activities Likely to Result in Destruction of Critical Habitat
Examples of activities likely to result in the destruction of freshwater critical habitat are outlined in Section 2.5.2 of the Recovery Strategy (DFO 2010). Examples of activities likely to results in the destruction of estuarine and marine critical habitat will be included with the identification of this critical habitat in the amended Recovery Strategy.
2.3 Proposed Measures to Protect Critical Habitat
Under SARA, critical habitat for aquatic species must be legally protected within 180 days after it is identified in a recovery strategy or action plan included on the Registry. The final iBoF Salmon Recovery Strategy was published to the Registry in May 2010. Accordingly, as required by SARA, on August 7, 2010 the Minister of the Environment published a SARA subsection 58(2) description for those portions of critical habitat within Fundy National Park (namely in those sections of the Point Wolfe and Upper Salmon rivers within the park boundaries) in the Canada Gazette thereby invoking the SARA subsection 58(1) prohibition against the destruction of the identified critical habitat (PCA 2010). This prohibition came into effect on November 5, 2010.
Pursuant to SARA subsection 49(1)(c) an action plan must include an identification of any portions of the species’ critical habitat that have not been protected. With respect to the protection of all other iBoF Salmon critical habitat outside Fundy National Park, it is anticipated that DFO will accomplish this by making a SARA subsections 58(4) and (5) Critical Habitat Order, which will invoke the prohibition in subsection 58(1) against the destruction of the identified critical habitat. Once the Critical Habitat Order has been made, all identified iBoF Salmon critical habitat will be legally protected. Notwithstanding this, it is important to note that existing tools already available under various other federal, provincial, and municipal legislation or regulations continue to be relevant with respect to iBoF Salmon critical habitat.
3. Evaluation of Socio-Economic Costs and of Benefits
The Species At Risk Act requires that an action plan include an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation (SARA 49(1)(e), 2003). This evaluation addresses only the incremental socio-economic costs of implementing this Action Plan from a national perspective as well as the social and environmental benefits that would occur if the Action Plan were implemented in its entirety, recognizing that not all aspects of its implementation are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It does not address cumulative costs of species recovery in general nor does it attempt a cost-benefit analysis. Its intent is to inform the public and to guide decision making on implementation of the Action Plan by partners.
In Canada, the iBoF Salmon was listed in 2003 as endangered under the Schedule 1 of SARA. As such, the species benefits from legal protection and mandatory recovery requirements which are administered by DFO (Government of Canada 2003).
A summary of recovery progress and the activities completed is available on the SARA Public Registry (Government of Canada 2012). As noted in Section 1.3, much of this progress has been made possible by successful collaborations among governments, industry, environmental organizations, universities and other organizations/groups. Future recovery efforts, such as those detailed in this Action Plan, are dependent upon the continued collaboration among these many organizations and groups. For each measure contained in this Action Plan, a list of the groups currently or potentially involved is provided in Tables 1, 2 and 3.
SARA requires the responsible federal minister to undertake “an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation”(Government of Canada 2002). This section identifies the anticipated socio-economic impacts associated with the proposed measures listed in Tables 1, 2 and 3. The evaluation attempts to address the costs and benefits that would be anticipated to occur if the Action Plan is fully implemented. The analysis only considers costs and benefits which are incremental to the baseline (e.g., costs/benefits associated with new activities or enhancements to existing activities that are above-and-beyond what is part of current practice or formal commitments). Costs and benefits that are real or reasonably expected to occur are included while those of a highly speculative or uncertain nature are not. An order-of-magnitude estimate of potential costs and benefits is provided where sufficient information is available to provide an evaluation. Otherwise, a qualitative statement regarding potential impacts is provided.
Costs and benefits associated with the identification and protection of critical habitat for the iBoF Salmon are not considered in this evaluation. A detailed analysis of the incremental impacts associated with the protection of iBoF Salmon critical habitat will the completed as part of the regulatory process associated with the Critical Habitat Order (see Section 2.3).
3.3 Costs of Implementation
Many of the measures listed in this Action Plan represent a continuation of current activities or responsibilities and commitments of DFO and/or other groups into the foreseeable future (i.e., designated as underway). Many of these actions are related to the Live Gene Bank program (LGB), salmon population monitoring activities and actions associated with ongoing activities of the Recovery Team. Unless there is an indication that these activities would cease in the absence of this Action Plan they are considered to be a continuation of the baseline. It is assumed that these activities would carry no incremental costs.
Certain measures may require large scale investments in excess of $100,000 each. This includes the costs associated with the acoustic smolt tracking work (action item 11) as well as the total costs of the numerous activities that could be undertaken to increase activity or enhance work currently underway in the areas of: the removal / modification of tidal barriers (action item 13), the improvement / restoration of connectivity of iBoF Salmon freshwater habitat (action item 21) and the improvement of freshwater habitat quality (action item 22).
A large number of the measures which related to undertaking additional research and analysis may each require smaller-scale investments in the range of tens of thousands of dollars by DFO, the fishing industry, environmental groups, or other organizations to enhance current knowledge. Examples include research undertaken to examine the role of the Petitcodiac River in the recovery of iBoF Salmon (action item 8), the investigation of the effects of disease and parasite load on survival and recovery of iBoF Salmon (action item 16), as well as a number of research related items listed throughout Table 3.
For several of the listed measures, insufficient information is available to provide an assessment of potential costs. For example, the costs of the measures associated with aquaculture operations (action items 18, 19, and 20) are not known at this time as specific new activities have not been identified. Similarly, the cost of any potential mitigation options to minimize bycatch in high risk areas (action item 14) are unknown at present, as are the costs of specific measures to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species (action item 25). As a result, costs associated with full implementation of this Action Plan can not be assessed at this time.
3.4 Benefits of Implementation
The overall goal of the iBoF Salmon recovery is to re-establish wild, self-sustaining populations as required to conserve the genetic characteristics of the remaining anadromous iBoF Salmon. It is expected that the implementation of this Action Plan would result in an important contribution towards this goal. The re-establishing of iBoF Salmon populations would be facilitated by achieving the five prioritized recovery objectives outlined in Section 1.1. Detailed descriptions and explanation of each of the identified recovery measures is provided in Section 1.2.
This Action Plan may also result in benefits to other species and the ecosystem as a whole. In particular, many of the stated measures would be beneficial to other populations of Atlantic Salmon as well as other species located within the inner Bay of Fundy area.
Many of the benefits derived from biodiversity conservation, including the protection and recovery of species at risk, are non-market commodities that are difficult to quantify. SARA recognizes that “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” (SARA Preamble, S.C. 2002, c. 29). A review of the literature confirms that Canadians value the preservation and conservation of species in and of themselves. Actions taken to preserve a species, such as habitat protection and restoration, are also valued. In addition, the more an action contributes to the recovery of a species, the higher the value the public places on such actions (Loomis and White, 1996; Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2008). Self-sustaining and healthy ecosystems, with their various elements in place, including species at risk, contribute positively to the livelihoods and the quality of life of all Canadians.
3.5 Distributional Impacts
As outlined in Section 1.2 and 1.3, implementation of this Action Plan will require collaboration among many organizations and groups not only Fisheries and Oceans Canada but also other jurisdictions, organizations and individuals. This includes contributions from various levels of government, non-governmental organizations, the fishing and aquaculture industries, Aboriginal groups, universities and others. It is also possible that new groups would become involved in future recovery efforts. Probable partners for each measure are noted in Tables 1 and 2. However, at this time it is not possible to determine the extent to which each of these groups would contribute (financially or otherwise) to this Action Plan. Likewise, precise benefits to individual groups cannot be estimated at this time, but are discussed broadly in Section 1.2.
4. Measuring Progress
The performance indicators presented in the associated iBoF Salmon Recovery Strategy provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives.
Reporting on implementation of the Action Plan (under section 55 of SARA) will be done by assessing progress towards implementing the recovery objectives.
Reporting on the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the Action Plan (under section 55 of SARA) will be done by assessing the results of monitoring the recovery of the species and its long term viability, and by assessing the implementation of the Action Plan.
COSEWIC. 2001. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar (Inner Bay of Fundy populations) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vi + 52 pp.
COSEWIC. 2006. COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Atlantic Salmon (Inner bay of Fundy populations) Salmo Salar in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. viii + 45 pp.
COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Atlantic Salmon Salmosalar (Nunavik population, Labrador population, Northeast Newfoundland population, South Newfoundland population, Southwest Newfoundland population, Northwest Newfoundland population, Quebec Eastern North Shore population, Quebec Western North Shore population, Anticosti Island population, Inner St. Lawrence population, Lake Ontario population, Gaspé-Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population, Eastern Cape Breton population, Nova Scotia Southern Upland population, Inner Bay of Fundy population, Outer Bay of Fundy population) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xlvii + 136 pp.
Côté, D., Kehler, D.G., Bourne, C., and Wiersma, Y.F. 2009. A new measure of longitudinal connectivity for stream networks. Landscape Ecology 24: 101-113.
DFO. 2008. Estimation of the Economic Benefits of Marine Mammal Recovery in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Policy and Economics Regional Branch, Quebec 2008.
DFO. 2010. Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), inner Bay of Fundy populations. In Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada. xiii + 58 pp. + Appendices.
DFO. 2013. Important Marine and Estuarine Habitat of Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2013/054.
Fraser DJ, MW Jones, TL McParland, JA Hutchings. 2007. Loss of historical immigration and the unsuccessful rehabilitation of extirpated Salmon populations. Conservation Genetics8:527- 546.
Friedland K.D., J.P. Manning, J.S. Link, J.R. Gilbert, A.T. Gilbert and A.F. O’Connell Jr. 2011. Variation in wind and piscivorous predator fields affecting the survival of Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar, in the Gulf of Maine. Fisheries Management and Ecology 19: 22-35.
Friedland K.D., J.P. Manning and J.S. Link . 2012. Thermal phenological factors affecting the survival of Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar, in the Gulf of Maine. In: R. Stephenson, J. Annala, M. Hall-Arber & J. Runge (eds) Advancing ecosystem research for the future of the Gulf of Maine. Besthesda, MD: American Fisheries Society, Symposium
Government of Canada. 2002. Species at Risk Act S.C. 2002, c.29.
Government of Canada. 2003. Species at Risk Act, A Guide. ISBN 0-662-67439-1 Cat. No. CW 66-225/2003.
Government of Canada. 2012. Species at Risk Public Registry. Species Profile: Atlantic Salmon Inner Bay of Fundy population.
Lacroix, G.L. 2012. Migratory strategies of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) postsmolts and implications for marine survival of endangered populations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 70(1): 32-48.
Lacroix, G.L. 2014. Large pelagic predators could jeopardize the recovery of endangered Atlantic Salmon. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 71(3): 343-350.
Loomis, J.B. and D.S. White. 1996. Economic Benefits of Rare and Endangered Species: Summary and Meta-analysis. Ecological Economics, 18: 197-206.
New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association. June 2008. Code of containment for culture of Atlantic Salmon in marine net pens in New Brunswick. Version 1.0. 17pp.
O’Reilly, P.T. and C.C. Kozfkay. 2014. Use of microsatellite data and pedigree information in the genetic management of two long-term Salmon conservation programs. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. DOI 10.1007/s11160-014-9347-9
Parks Canada Agency. 2010. Description of critical habitat of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon in Fundy National Park of Canada. Canada Gazette 144(32): 2160-2161.
van Proosdij, D. and P. Dobek. 2005. Bay of Fundy Tidal Barriers GIS Database Development (PDF 8,48 MB). Final Report prepared for Environment Canada, Atlantic Division and Gulf of Maine Council for the Marine Environment. 38 pp.
Appendix A: Effects on the Environment and Other Species
A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals24. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or achievement of any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy’s25(FSDS) goals and targets.
Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that implementation of action plans may inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the Action Plan itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.
While the implementation of this action plan is anticipated to benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the iBoF Salmon, the potential for the plan to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. No such adverse effects were identified. This Action Plan is expected to benefit other species and the ecosystem as a whole. In particular, many of the stated measures would be beneficial to other populations of Atlantic Salmon, as well as other species located within the inner Bay of Fundy area. The reader should refer to the sections of the document outlining the recovery actions for specific details on potential environmental benefits of this Action Plan. Furthermore, implementation of the recovery measures in this Action Plan will contribute to achieving the following FSDS goal: Conserving and restoring ecosystems, wildlife and habitat, and protecting Canadians – resilient ecosystems with healthy wildlife populations so Canadians can enjoy benefits from natural spaces, resources and ecological services for generations to come.
Appendix B: Record of Cooperation and Consultation
To assist in the recovery of iBoF Salmon and the development of this Action Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Maritimes Region collaborated with Parks Canada Agency (PCA) who is responsible for the recovery of this species in the two watersheds contained mainly within the boundaries of Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. DFO also drew upon the expertise and interest of the long-standing multi-stakeholder, multi-interest Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team (the “Recovery Team”). DFO hosted a one-day workshop on November 7, 2012 with interested members of the Recovery Team to provide input and advice into the Implementation Schedule and supporting narratives which were used as a basis for further development of the Action Plan. Active members involved in the development, review or participating in the implementation of this Action Plan can be found in Appendix C.
The early draft Action Plan was reviewed by relevant DFO sector representatives in Maritimes, Gulf and National Capital Regions, as well as relevant Atlantic regional PCA staff. All comments received during these reviews were considered and addressed as appropriate.
This version of the draft Action Plan is now being shared with targeted groups for jurisdictional review and external comment. It is being shared with the Recovery Team, in addition to other relevant stakeholder and parties as outlined below. All comments received during this review will inform the final version of the document.
In addition to those provincial representatives on the Recovery Team, the draft Action Plan is being shared with all relevant provincial governments of Nova Scotia (NS) and New Brunswick (NB), including NB and NS Natural Resources, NB Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, NS Fisheries and Aquaculture, NS Agriculture, NB and NS Transportation and Infrastructure, NB and NS Environment. The document is also being shared for comment with other relevant federal departments including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Aboriginal Peoples have representation on the Recovery Team and their input has been sought through the Recovery Team process. The draft Action Plan is now being circulated more broadly for comment to all relevant First Nations and other Aboriginal organizations in NB and NS. All comments received during this review will inform the final version of the document.
The proposed Action Plan will be published on the Species at Risk Public Registry for a 60-day public comment period. All comments received during both the targeted consultations on the draft Action Plan and the publication of the proposed Action Plan to the Public Registry will inform the final version of the Action Plan.
Appendix C: Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team
Appendix C is titled Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team. It consists of a single table with two column headings, which are, from left to right: Organization and Active Members. The organizations represented on the iBoF Salmon Conservation and Recovery Team are listed alphabetically and include: AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc., New Brunswick Salmon Council, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq – Mi’kmaw Conservation Group, DFO Aquaculture Management, DFO Conservation and Protection, DFO Communication, DFO Policy and Economics, DFO Resource Management, DFO Science, DFO Species at Risk Management, DFO Area Director Office Southwest New Brunswick, DFO Fisheries Protection Program, Fort Folly First Nation, J.D. Irving Limited, Kings County Wildlife Association, Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council, Nashwaak Watershed Association Inc., New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Nova Scotia Power, Nova Scotia Salmon Association, and Parks Canada Agency – Fundy National Park.
|AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc. and New Brunswick Salmon Council||Bagnall, John|
|Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia||Goodfellow, Danielle|
|Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association||House, Betty|
|Atlantic Salmon Federation||Carr, Johnathan (Research and Environment)|
Dupuis, Todd (Regional Programs)
Giffin, Geoff (New Brunswick Programs)
Hinks, Lewis (Nova Scotia Programs)
|Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaw Conservation Group||Coppaway, Clayton|
|DFO – Aquaculture Management||Cline, Jeff|
|DFO – Conservation and Protection||Bieren, Stacey|
|DFO - Communications||Gaulton, Luke|
|DFO – Policy and Economics||MacIntosh, Robert|
|DFO – Resource Management||Stevens, Greg|
|DFO – Science||Claytor, Ross|
Whitelaw, John (Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility)
Lenentine, Beth (Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility)
|DFO – Species at Risk Management||Robichaud-LeBlanc, Kimberly|
|DFO – Area Director Office SWNB||Millar, Harvey (Chair)|
|DFO – Aboriginal Fisheries||Howe, Tom|
|DFO Fisheries Protection Program||Savoie, Fernand (New Brunswick)|
Delaney, Leanda (Nova Scotia)
|Fort Folly First Nation||Knockwood, Joseph|
Epworth, Wendy (Habitat Recovery Program)
Robinson, Tim (Habitat Recovery Program)
|J.D. Irving Limited||Gilbert, John|
|Kings County Wildlife Association||Cook, Scott|
|Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council||Hunka, Roger|
McNeely, Joshua (IKANAWTIKET – Regional Facilitator)
|Nashwaak Watershed Association Inc.||Salonius, Peter|
|New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries||Coombs, Karen|
|New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council||Wysote, Nathalie|
|Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources||Elderkin, Mark|
|NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture||LeBlanc, Jason|
|Nova Scotia Power||Nicolas, Jean-Marc|
|Nova Scotia Salmon Association||Purcell, Carl|
|Parks Canada Agency, Fundy National Park||Clarke, Corey|
Appendix D: Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Live Gene Bank Program
The iBoF Salmon Live Gene Bank (LGB) program is a captive breeding and rearing program initiated by DFO in 1998 to reduce the probability of extirpation of iBoF Salmon. This program is unique, and its development has been influenced by a number of factors, including the species’ genetic uniqueness, their imminent risk of extinction, the unknown causes but high level of marine mortality, and the need to harbour and protect the remaining populations.
IBoF Salmon currently appear to be extirpated from most or all non-supported iBoF rivers, and the number of adults returning to any individual river are extremely low. Given that freshwater habitat of iBoF rivers is thought to be of good quality and capable of supporting iBoF Salmon through the freshwater phase of their life cycle, but that marine mortality is high and due to one or more unknown causes, captive rearing is only essential for the marine phase of the life cycle. The current emphasis of the LGB program is therefore not population supplementation, but rather (1) minimizing loss of genetic variation and (2) reducing rates of adaptation to captive conditions, so that population restoration might be feasible at some point in the future if and when marine conditions improve. In other words, the main purpose of the LGB program is to maintain the potential for iBoF Salmon recovery by preserving the genetic base thought to be representative of the population.
The iBoF Salmon LGB program was initiated in 1998. Originally, approximately 1,000 wild parr were collected from the two rivers with the principle Salmon populations representative of the two ecologically distinct halves of the iBoF basin, the Big Salmon River, New Brunswick (NB) and the Stewiacke River, Nova Scotia (NS). These parr were reared to maturity in a biosecure environment in fresh water, mated according to a prescribed mating strategy to limit losses in genetic diversity, and the progeny released broadly throughout suitable native river habitat for exposure to wild river conditions. Additional fish were collected and released in select rivers in subsequent years to either broaden the program or for research purposes. The LGB program is currently focused on four principle rivers: the Stewiacke and Gaspereau in NS, and the Big Salmon and Point Wolfe in NB with associated activities currently undertaken at the DFO owned and operated Mactaquac and Coldbrook biodiversity facilities, in NB and NS respectively.
The program consists of two components: captive and “in-river” live gene banks. These components can be broken down into the following broad steps: the collection of wild-exposed juveniles and their rearing to maturity in captivity, the spawning of adults in captivity, rearing of offspring in captivity, release of offspring into rivers, subsequent recapture of wild-exposed juveniles, return of recaptured juveniles to biodiversity facility for rearing alongside of captive-reared siblings, spawning of mature captive-reared and wild-exposed siblings, and production of offspring and the next generation of Salmon to be released into the wild. See Figure 2 below for a schematic of these steps.
Since the onset of the program (the first releases from the iBoF LGB occurred in 2001), the release of Salmon into iBoF rivers has been part of the “in-river” component of the program, where juvenile Salmon of various ages are released into native river habitat for exposure to the natural environment to allow natural selection to occur. After residing in natural river environment for one to two years for “wild exposure”, a portion of these fish (parr and smolts) is then recaptured by sampling multiple locations throughout the watershed using electrofishing methods, and rotary screw traps located downstream of release locations. These fish are brought back to the biodiversity facility for more captive rearing (i.e., incorporation back into the captive component of the LGB program and reared through to maturity). When mature, a subset of captive-reared and wild exposed siblings is selected for broodstock based on a number of criteria, and mated according to a prescribed strategy for the production of the next generation of iBoF Salmon. To complete the program cycle, the progeny from these crosses are distributed three ways: 400 offspring per family (enumerated and equalized after hatch) are transported and strategically released into a select isolated area of the watershed for incorporation into the “in-river” component of the program, five offspring per family for a total of ~500 individuals are retained for the captive component of the program, and the remaining offspring are released throughout the selected river for supplementation purposes. In this way, Salmon populations are being maintained through supportive rearing while attempting to limit the effects of domestication and selection of deleterious traits during the freshwater phase of the iBoF Salmon life cycle.
Figure 2. Schematic depicting the general operations of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Live Gene Bank (LGB) program.
Long Description for Figure 2
Figure 2 is a schematic of the general operations of the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Live Gene Bank program. It is a visual representation of the program description provided in the text already read. It includes both visual and textual information on both the captive and in-river components.
Since the first generation of captive-reared Salmon were genotyped (determination of the genetic constitution of an individual) and pedigreed (determination of the recorded ancestry of an individual), and estimates of family size and the recapture of families from captive and wild environments became available, a number of changes to the demographic or genetic management of the program have taken place and others continue to evolve (e.g., use of ranked mean kinship26 in prioritizing and pairing spawners) in efforts to increase the spawning preference given to wild-exposed fish over captive-reared Salmon.
Further details on the evolution and both the demographic and genetic management of the iBoF Salmon LGB program can be found in O’Reilly and Kozfkay (2014).
3 The iBoF Salmon Live Gene Bank (LGB) program is a pedigree-supported spawning and rearing program designed to minimize the loss of genetic diversity and fitness in the remaining populations. Capturing a subset of the population and removing it from its normal marine phase is seen as a means of preventing the species from going extinct until such time as the unknowns surrounding low spawner returns from the ocean can be determined. Further details of the LGB program can be found in the Recovery Strategy and in Appendix D.
4Conservation levels: the number of Salmon required to produce an egg deposition of 2.4 eggs/m² of habitat; a value thought to optimize juvenile production in freshwater.
13Wild-exposed Salmon: progeny resulting from mating crosses undertaken in captivity that have been released into the wild and subject to natural selection.
14Effective population size: Average size of a population in terms of the number of individuals that can contribute genes equally to the next generation.
15High Ancestry is a unique genetic strain of Point Wolfe River Salmon that are known to have a high proportion of signature iBoF Salmon mitochondrial DNA. The High Ancestry Program focuses on available high ancestry stock found at the LGB beginning in 2011 and is based on crosses from this stock conducted each year to produce high ancestry juveniles.
16Genetic variation: neutral molecular genetic variation and adaptive quantitative trait variation.
19Offsetting measures, also known as offsets, are measures that are undertaken to counterbalance unavoidable serious harm to fish resulting from a project, with the goal of maintaining or improving the productivity of the commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery (as defined in the Fisheries Productivity Investment Policy of the Fisheries Act.
21Now known as the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association
26Mean Kinship (MK) is a measure of genetic importance. An MK value is calculated for each animal in a population using a formula and gives a numerical value to how closely related each animal is to the population as a whole. This provides an important measure of just how rare an individual animal's unique combination of genes is in the entire population. Ranked MK compensates for large family size.
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