ARCHIVED — Vol. 146, No. 27 — July 7, 2012

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Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act

Statutory authority

Species at Risk Act

Sponsoring department

Department of the Environment

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Order.)

Executive summary

Issue: A growing number of aquatic species in Canada face pressures and threats that put them at risk of extirpation or extinction. Many serve important biological functions or have intrinsic, commercial, or recreational value to the Canadian public and require conservation and protection to ensure healthy aquatic ecosystems for future generations.

Description: This Order proposes to add seven aquatic species to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to reclassify two species on Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1). This Order also proposes to amend Schedule 1 by striking out one species previously listed as a single designatable unit and adding two new designatable units of the same species in its place. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment not to recommend the addition of three other aquatic species to Schedule 1. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has further advised the Minister of the Environment to recommend the referral of two species assessments back to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). These amendments are being proposed on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment with advice from the other competent minister, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The addition of species to Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened invokes prohibitions against killing, harming, harassing, capturing, taking, possessing, collecting, buying, selling or trading individuals of these species, and the damage or destruction of the residence of one or more such individuals. SARA also requires the preparation of recovery strategies and action plans to provide for their recovery and survival. When a species is added to Schedule 1 as a species of special concern, SARA requires the preparation of a management plan to prevent the species from becoming endangered or threatened.

Cost-benefit statement: For each of the seven species recommended for addition to Schedule 1, the three species recommended for reclassification and the two species replacing another, socio-economic impacts are estimated to be low and should result in positive net benefits for Canadians. No impacts are anticipated in relation to the species proposed for referral back to COSEWIC. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has also advised the Minister of the Environment not to recommend the addition of three other aquatic species to Schedule 1. For one of these three species, the costs of SARA protection would likely outweigh the benefits to Canadians and more cost-effective measures for protection will be taken under other legal authorities. For the two other species, following extensive consultations and scientific assessment, it has been determined that other measures would be more effective in providing for their protection and recovery. The anticipated costs to Government are expected to be low.

Business and consumer impacts: The potential net impact on fish harvesters and recreational anglers as a result of listing the seven aquatic species in this proposal is low.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: International coordination and cooperation for the conservation of biodiversity is provided through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic coordination and cooperation is covered by several mechanisms developed to coordinate Species at Risk (SAR) Program implementation across the various domestic jurisdictions. These include inter-governmental committees, a National Framework for Species at Risk Conservation (NFSARC), and negotiated species at risk bilateral agreements. The species at risk bilateral agreements foster collaboration in the implementation of SARA and of provincial/ territorial endangered species legislation.

Performance measurement and evaluation plan: Environment Canada and federal partners, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency have put in place a Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (see footnote 1) (RMAF) and a Risk-based Audit Framework (RBAF) for the Species at Risk Program. The specific measurable outcomes for the Program and the performance measurement and evaluation strategy are described in the Species at Risk Program RMAF and RBAF. The latest program evaluation was undertaken in 2011–2012.

Issue

A growing number of wildlife species in Canada face pressures and threats that place them at risk of extirpation or extinction. Canada’s natural heritage is an integral part of Canada’s national identity and history. Wildlife, in all its forms, has value in and of itself and is valued by Canadians for aesthetic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, educational, historical, economic, medical, ecological and scientific reasons. Canadian wildlife species and ecosystems are also part of the world’s heritage. The Government of Canada is committed to conserving biological diversity, through the use of many tools, including the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Background

SARA is a key tool in the ongoing work to protect species at risk. By providing for the protection and recovery of species at risk, SARA is one of the most important tools in the conservation of Canada’s biological diversity. SARA also complements other laws and programs of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments, and supports the efforts of conservation organizations and other partners working to protect Canadian wildlife and habitat. SARA establishes Schedule 1 as the official List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Once a species is listed on Schedule 1, the measures to protect and recover a listed wildlife species apply.

The Governor in Council (GIC) has officially acknowledged receipt of assessments for 16 aquatic species that had been assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Receipt of these assessments initiated the nine-month legislated time period within which the GIC, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, decides whether or not to add these species to Schedule 1 of SARA, or to refer the species back to COSEWIC for further review. Thus, the GIC is required to render a final decision regarding the listing of these species within nine months. This Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) will address these 16 species.

Objectives

The purposes of SARA are

  1. to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct;
  2. to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity; and
  3. to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.

A decision to add a species to Schedule 1 as endangered or threatened would result in the species receiving the benefits of protection and recovery measures required under SARA. Species listed as special concern would receive the benefits of a SARA-compliant management plan. This would result in overall benefits to the environment, in terms of both the protection and recovery of individual species and the conservation of Canada’s biological diversity.

In making a recommendation to the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans considers the following, as appropriate:

  • the purpose of SARA;
  • the COSEWIC status assessment;
  • other available information regarding the status and threats to the species;
  • the results of public consultations with provinces and territories;
  • the results of consultations with appropriate Aboriginal organizations;
  • the results of consultations with any other person or organization that the competent minister considers appropriate;
  • the results of consultations with the appropriate wildlife management board;
  • the social-economic (costs and benefits) and biological impacts from listing the species; and
  • the advice of any other competent minister.

It is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment to make a recommendation to the GIC to

  • (a) accept the COSEWIC assessment and add the specific species to the list;

  • (b) decide not to add the species to the list; or

  • (c) refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

Alternatives to listing are only considered in circumstances where there is a compelling rationale for not listing. A decision not to list species assessed as at risk by COSEWIC to Schedule 1 means that the protection, recovery and management measures under SARA would not apply. In some instances, a species not listed under SARA may be protected through other existing tools, including legislation such as the Fisheries Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. F-14, and non-legislative tools such as government programs and actions by non-governmental organizations, industry, and Canadians, which may provide measures to assist in the protection or recovery of a species that is or is not listed.

The purpose of the proposed Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add seven species to Schedule 1, reclassify two species, and replace a current listed species with two new designatable units. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of Environment to refer two species back to COSEWIC, and that he not recommend three species for addition to Schedule 1. This advice has been based on scientific assessments by COSEWIC and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

Once an aquatic species has been listed as threatened or endangered, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for preparing a recovery strategy which includes, among other things, population and distribution objectives for a species. Depending on the reason for which the species has been reclassified, the recovery strategy and the action plan (if one exists) would be reviewed to ensure that they are still relevant given changes in the risk status. For example, if there is a new threat to the species, this would have to be reflected in the recovery strategy. However, the new risk status does not necessarily change the population and distribution objectives for the future of the species.

Description

Of the 16 species assessments received from COSEWIC, it is proposed that 7 aquatic species be added to Schedule 1, that 2 aquatic species be reclassified under Schedule 1 and that 1 previously listed species be replaced by two new designatable units of the same species. It is also recommended that 2 species be referred back to COSEWIC.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment to recommend that the GIC not add three other aquatic species to Schedule 1.

The risk status as assessed by COSEWIC for the 16 species under consideration is presented in Table 1. The full status assessments, including the reasons for classification and the species range for the 16 species considered in the proposed regulatory actions, are available at www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

Table 1: Status designations of 16 species assessed by COSEWIC and received by the GIC

Species proposed for addition to Schedule 1 of SARA (7)

Fish

1. Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population)

Threatened

2. Spring Cisco

Endangered

Molluscs

1. Brook Floater

Special concern

2. Mapleleaf Mussel (Great Lakes – Western St. Lawrence population)

Threatened

3. Mapleleaf Mussel (Saskatchewan – Nelson population)

Endangered

4. Eastern Pondmussel

Endangered

5. Rainbow Mussel

Endangered


Aquatic species proposed for amending their listing status in Schedule 1 of SARA (2)

Fish

1. Shorthead Sculpin

Threatened to special concern

Molluscs

1. Wavy-rayed Lampmussel

Endangered to special concern


Species where one previously listed species will be replaced with two new populations of the same species in Schedule 1 of SARA (2)

Fish

1. Eastern Sand Darter (Ontario populations)

Threatened

2. Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec populations)

Threatened


Species for which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment that he refer the matter back to COSEWIC (2)

Fish

1. Eulachon (Nass/Skeena Rivers population)

Threatened

Mammals (marine)

1. Humpback Whale (North Pacific population)

Special concern


Species for which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment that he not recommend their addition to Schedule 1 of SARA (3)

Mammals

1. Beluga Whale (Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay population)

Special concern

Fish

1. Striped Bass (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population)

Threatened

2. Cusk

Threatened

SARA includes prohibitions that make it an offence to kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of an aquatic species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA. SARA also includes prohibitions that make it an offence to possess, collect, buy, sell or trade such individuals and to damage or destroy the residence of one or more such individuals.

Under section 37 of SARA, once an aquatic species is listed on Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is required to prepare a strategy for its recovery. Pursuant to section 41 of SARA, the recovery strategy must, among other things, address threats to the species’ survival and to its habitat, describe the broad strategy to address those threats, identify the species’ critical habitat to the extent possible based on the best available information, state the population and distribution objectives that will assist the recovery and survival of the species and identify research and management activities needed to meet the population and distribution objectives. The recovery strategy also provides a timeline for completion of one or more action plans.

Action plans are required to be developed to implement recovery strategies for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Action plans must, with respect to the area to which the action plan relates, identify, among others, measures that address the threats to the species and those that help to achieve the population and distribution objectives for the species and when these are to take place; a species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, based on the best available information and consistent with the recovery strategy; examples of activities that would likely result in the destruction of the species’ critical habitat; measures proposed to be taken to protect the critical habitat; and methods to monitor the recovery of the species and its long-term viability. These action plans also require an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation.

For species listed as special concern, management plans that include measures for the conservation of the species and their habitat must be prepared. Recovery strategies, action plans and management plans must be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry within the timelines set out under SARA.

Recovery and management planning is an opportunity for federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together and to stimulate cooperation and collaboration among a number of partners — including municipalities, Aboriginal organizations and stakeholders — in determining the actions necessary to support the survival and recovery of listed species.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

As required under SARA, on receiving a copy of an assessment from COSEWIC, the Minister of the Environment includes, within 90 days, a report in the Public Registry stating how the Minister intends to respond to the assessment. The receipt of status assessments by the GIC triggers a process in which the GIC may review that assessment and may, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, (1) accept the assessment and add the species to Schedule 1 of SARA; (2) decide not to add the species to Schedule 1; or (3) refer the assessment back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

The first option, to add the species to Schedule 1 of SARA, would ensure that the species receives protection in accordance with the provisions of SARA, including mandatory recovery or management planning.

The second option is not to add the species to Schedule 1. Although the species would neither benefit from prohibitions afforded by SARA, nor the recovery or management planning required under SARA, the species may already be managed under other federal legislation such as the Fisheries Act as well as provincial or territorial species at risk legislation where it exists. When deciding to not add a species to Schedule 1, it is not referred back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

The third option is to refer the assessment back to COSEWIC for further assessment when new information is made available that was not taken into consideration during the original assessment. It would be appropriate to refer an assessment back if, for example, significant new information became available after the species had been assessed by COSEWIC.

If the GIC has not taken a decision in response to COSEWIC’s recommendations nine months after acknowledging receipt of the assessments, the Minister of the Environment must amend the List in accordance with COSEWIC’s assessments.

Consultation

Under SARA, the scientific assessment of species status and the decision whether to add a species to Schedule 1 of SARA are comprised of two distinct processes. This helps ensure that scientists can work independently when assessing the biological status of wildlife species and that Canadians have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process in determining whether or not species would be listed under SARA.

The 16 aquatic species addressed in this document were assessed by the COSEWIC at its meetings between May 2003 and May 2011. Public consultations were conducted following the respective COSEWIC assessments by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) from 2003 to 2011. Consultations were facilitated through mail-outs, meetings, public sessions, consultation workbooks, and other supporting documents which were made available on the Species at Risk Public Registry and other government Internet sites. Consultations were conducted with fish harvesters, industry sectors, recreational fishers, Aboriginal groups, environmental organizations, other levels of government and the public. The consultation results for the individual species are outlined later in this document.

Benefits and costs

Description and rationale

Listing a species on Schedule 1 of SARA entails both benefits and costs in terms of social, environmental and economic considerations, through the implementation of the SARA general prohibitions upon listing and through the recovery planning requirements. This RIAS outlines the estimated benefits and costs associated with adding seven species to Schedule 1 of SARA, amending the listing status of two other species and replacing another with two new designatable units. For consultation purposes, this RIAS also includes the potential benefits and costs associated with three species for which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is considering advising against listing on Schedule 1, and two species for which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is advising to refer the species to COSEWIC.

Upon listing the aquatic species on Schedule 1, individuals of species under consideration would benefit from immediate protection wherever they are found through general prohibitions under SARA. Under sections 32 and 33 of SARA, it is an offence to

  • kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a listed species that is extirpated, endangered or threatened;
  • possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a listed species that is extirpated, endangered or threatened, or its part or derivative; and
  • damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a listed endangered or threatened species or of a listed extirpated species if a recovery strategy has proposed its reintroduction into the wild in Canada.

With respect to Canada’s fisheries and species listed pursuant to Schedule 1 of SARA, the section 32 prohibition will generally require that a species at risk captured as non-directed catch be released alive and unharmed back to the waters from which it was obtained. In all cases where a fishery is likely to interact with a species at risk in a predictable way, a SARA permit is required, or a SARA-compliant authorization, permit, or license pursuant to other federal legislation is required. However, such a permit is dependent upon several factors, including the biology of the fish, the type of gear used, the nature of the fishery, and that the activity of capturing the species at risk does not compromise survival or recovery of the species. In some circumstances, the interaction of the fishery with the species at risk will result in its mortality, and therefore live release is not feasible. Again, in this situation, the issuance of a SARA permit to allow the fishery to interact with the species at risk will be dependent upon the determination that the incidental mortality associated with the capture of the species does not compromise its survival or recovery. Furthermore, in all cases, all reasonable alternatives to the activity will be assessed and all feasible mitigation measures applied to minimize the interaction with the species at risk. In cases where non-directed catch will compromise survival or recovery of the species, pursuant to SARA, no permit can be issued. Under section 32 of SARA all interaction with the species which consists of killing, harming or harassing the species is prohibited. To date, restrictions on non-directed catch are established through SARA-compliant licences issued under the Fisheries Act.

Listing species on Schedule 1 would result in the development and implementation of recovery strategies and action plans or management plans. Recovery strategies must be drafted for all species listed on Schedule 1 as extirpated, endangered or threatened. These are followed by action plans that identify measures to implement the recovery strategy. For species listed on Schedule 1 as species of special concern, management plans that include measures for the conservation of the species and their habitat are required. An assessment of costs associated with the development of management plans and recovery strategies for previously listed species has shown that the average cost for each is approximately $45,000 and $50,000 respectively.

Benefits

For some aquatic species, protection under SARA can lead to direct and indirect economic benefits in the future as populations recover and the commercial or recreational use of the species can be restored. However, protecting species at risk can provide numerous benefits to Canadians beyond direct economic benefits, such as the preservation of essential ecosystem goods and services. Many of the species considered for SARA protection serve as indicators of environmental quality. Various studies show that Canadians place value on preserving species for future generations to enjoy and benefit from knowing the species exist, even if they will never personally see or otherwise enjoy them. Furthermore, the unique characteristics and evolutionary histories of many species at risk make them of special interest to the scientific community.

When seeking to quantify the economic benefits to society provided by a species, the most commonly used framework is the Total Economic Value (TEV). The TEV of a species can be broken down into the following components:

  • Direct Use Value — refers to the consumptive use of a resource, such as fishing;
  • Indirect Use Value — includes non-consumptive activities, such as whale watching, which represents recreational value;
  • Option Use Value — represents the value of preserving a species for future direct and indirect use; and
  • Passive Values (or non-use values) — includes bequest value, which is the value of preserving a species for future generations, and existence value, which represents the altruistic value individuals derive from simply knowing that a given species exists, regardless of potential for any future use.

Passive value is typically an important component of the TEV of species at risk. When a given species is not readily accessible to society, existence value may comprise the major or only benefit of a particular species. Passive values can be estimated by stated preferences surveys that estimate willingness to pay — the amount an individual is willing to pay per year to preserve a species.

Quantitative information is limited regarding Canadians’ willingness to pay for the preservation of species under consideration in this proposed Order. However, studies on other at-risk species indicate Canadians do place substantial economic value upon targeted conservation programs, even for species with which they are unfamiliar. Although specific estimates are not available for the species considered here, it is not always necessary to quantify the benefits of protection in order to determine their likely magnitude in comparison to the costs imposed on Canadians. The analysis in this proposed Order uses the best available quantitative and qualitative information to assess expected benefits.

Costs

The costs of protecting and recovering the species in this proposed Order could be borne by several segments of society. For government, major categories of costs attributed to the proposed Order include compliance promotion, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and enforcement. These costs could arise from the application of SARA, in particular the enforcement of the SARA prohibitions and/or the development and implementation of recovery strategies, action plans, or management plans, depending on the classification of the species. Additional costs to Canadians will usually arise from the changes in economic activity that are required to accommodate species protection, for example reduced harvests or the application of best management practices to preserve habitat or avoid incidental mortality.

The magnitude of costs borne by affected parties (including industries, individuals and different levels of government) varies and would be proportional to some key parameters, such as the classification of the species in Schedule 1, threats to the species, population size and distribution, as well as economic activities involving the species. For example,

  • for the Brook Floater, an aquatic species proposed for addition to Schedule 1 as a species of special concern, the automatic prohibitions under sections 32 and 33 of SARA would not apply. Thus, there are no immediate costs to ensure compliance with legislated prohibitions. Rather, affected stakeholders may incur minimal costs that would stem from the development and implementation of a management plan, as required for species of special concern under SARA;
  • for the species being reclassified from threatened to special concern — Shorthead Sculpin — and the species being reclassified from endangered to special concern — Wavy-rayed Lampmussel — existing prohibitions under SARA would no longer be in effect. Therefore, no new compliance costs are anticipated; and
  • for the species added to Schedule 1 under the extirpated, endangered, or threatened categories, the general prohibitions would be applied automatically upon listing and impacts to Canadians would occur. For these cases, the impacts are detailed below.

Costs arising from the enforcement activities associated with the listing recommendations under this proposed Order are anticipated to be low. While incremental activities related to DFO’s enforcement costs are not expected to create a significant additional burden on DFO, the requirement to develop recovery strategies and action plans in accordance with SARA would result in incremental costs.

The benefits and costs to Canadian society from these actions under SARA have been estimated to the greatest extent practical, according to the 2007 cost-benefit guidelines set out by the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada. Dollar estimates are presented as changes in net economic value (consumer and/or producer surplus) wherever possible. When quantitative estimation was not possible or expected impacts were too low to warrant extensive analysis, the potential impacts are described in qualitative terms.

Aquatic species proposed for addition to Schedule 1 of SARA

Seven aquatic species (two freshwater fish and five molluscs) are proposed for addition to Schedule 1. The Brook Floater is proposed for addition as a species of special concern. Two species — Mapleleaf Mussel (Great Lakes – Western St. Lawrence population) and Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population) — are proposed for addition as threatened. Four species — Eastern Pondmussel, Rainbow Mussel, Mapleleaf Mussel (Saskatchewan – Nelson population), and Spring Cisco — are proposed for addition as endangered.

Brook Floater

The Brook Floater is a freshwater mussel found in 15 scattered watersheds in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Although it has never been abundant in Canada, it has disappeared from approximately half of its locations in the United States; therefore, the Canadian population now represents an important global stronghold for the species. The major threat to the Brook Floater is aquatic habitat degradation resulting from shoreline development, poor agricultural practices, and other water quality issues. COSEWIC assessed the species as special concern in April 2009.

Consultations

A consultation summary on the Brook Floater was prepared and posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry between December 17, 2010, and February 15, 2011. Public notices were posted in four newspapers in the Gulf Region and six in the Maritimes Region. Letters, including the consultation summary and a response sheet, were sent to First Nations and a range of stakeholders, including watershed groups and non-governmental organizations, agriculture and forestry associations as well as provincial and municipal governments.

In total, the Gulf and Maritimes Regions received 11 responses: 6 from watershed groups and ENGOs, 2 from Aboriginal groups, 1 from an agriculture association, 1 from a municipality, and 1 from a member of the public via the public registry. From the 11 respondents participating in the consultations, 8 supported the proposed listing, while 3 were undecided. Both the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have indicated support for the proposed listing.

Benefits

In light of the significant decline in occurrence throughout its global range, the Canadian population now represents a key global stronghold for the species. Overall benefits to Canadians include potential ecological benefits that could arise as a result of listing the Brook Floater as a species of special concern. The Brook Floater and other freshwater mussels play a key role in maintaining water quality and are key indicators of habitat quality. Listing the Brook Floater would lead to the development of a SARA Management Plan which would guide measures to prevent further decline, range loss or worsened status due to human activities. This could lead to increased research, monitoring and assessment of threats, stewardship and outreach and communication activities. In addition, SARA stewardship funding could be considered to promote recovery efforts and restoration projects.

Costs

As prohibitions under SARA would not apply to species listed as a special concern, no significant socio-economic impacts are expected from listing the species. It is anticipated that the proposed listing would not unduly impact sectors (mainly agriculture, forestry and residential development) as the total cost to the industry is anticipated to be minimal. Some costs will be incurred through potential stewardship, outreach and communication activities to increase awareness of the species, improved watershed planning and the implementation of voluntary best management practices.

Rationale

The proposed listing of the Brook Floater as a species of special concern represents the greatest overall benefit to Canadians as it could limit the decline of the species and prevent it from becoming endangered. The total cost to Canadian society of listing the Brook Floater is unknown but is expected to be minimal. The majority of Canadians consulted supported the proposed listing. The investment in a management plan and associated activities could result in important benefits to society and is proportional to the degree of risk.

Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population)

The Alberta population of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout is restricted to southwestern Alberta, primarily the South Saskatchewan River drainage. They tend to inhabit cooler, less productive streams than other closely related species. Native populations have been drastically reduced, by almost 80%, due to overexploitation, habitat degradation and hybridization/competition with non-native trout. Forestry, hydroelectric development, mining, urbanization and agriculture have all contributed to the loss of habitat. COSEWIC assessed the species as threatened in November 2006.

Consultations

From 2007 to 2008, letters and workbooks were sent to 109 First Nation communities and organizations and 42 stakeholders. Public notices were placed in nine newspapers. The stakeholders contacted directly included 3 academics, 2 agricultural organizations, 10 businesses, 15 non-governmental organizations, 9 municipalities, and 3 recreational fishery organizations.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans received a total of 100 responses, 78 of which supported the proposed listing and 14 of which did not support the proposed listing. Five of the responses were from First Nations, 64 from the general public and 31 from stakeholders. The comments in support of the proposed listing underscored the social, cultural and economic significance of the species. The comments that did not support the proposed listing highlighted concerns about potential impacts on businesses and industry, as well as the recreational fishery. Concerns were focused on access to water and water management. Water diversion occurs well downstream of any Westslope Cutthroat Trout populations. Therefore, additional new restrictions relating to water access and water management, impacting the existing irrigation and hydroelectricity generation industries, are not anticipated. It is anticipated that any impacts could be minimized as the recovery strategy would provide for flexible management, particularly through permits authorized by the Act. Furthermore, in recognition of such concerns, DFO is utilizing a broad consultative approach to recovery planning for this species. Many of the parties who raised concerns were invited to participate in the recovery team and are, and will continue to be, actively involved in the development of the recovery strategy.

None of the comments from First Nations indicated a lack of support for the proposed listing. The Province of Alberta has indicated support for the proposed listing.

Benefits

The proposed listing of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population) would provide protection pursuant to SARA (section 32 and 33 prohibitions). Canadians would benefit from the new protection afforded to this species, which would be centred on a collaborative effort with all stakeholders — including industry, non-governmental organizations and local and provincial governments — and First Nations. This approach would create synergies for comprehensive action since this species is presently listed as threatened under the provincial Wildlife Act. A detailed recovery strategy, action plan and subsequent actions to recover Westslope Cutthroat Trout throughout their historic range would have positive benefits as existence values are preserved for future generations. Recovery activities for this population undertaken under SARA would generate broader benefits to the ecosystem, which supports other threatened species.

Costs

No significant socio-economic impacts are anticipated as a result of the proposed listing. All of the water bodies outside national parks where the species is currently found receive protection under the Alberta Water Act. In addition, many of those water bodies are considered to have a heightened level of sensitivity under codes of practice created from the Water Act which regulate industrial operations in those areas. Since prohibitions and restrictions are currently in place under provincial legislation, incremental costs are anticipated to be low.

There is potential for some increased operating and capital costs due to modifications for forestry, recreational, hydroelectricity and oil and gas activities. However, such costs are expected to be low as the recovery team will work collaboratively to ensure that costs are mitigated to the extent possible. The diverse composition of the recovery team, which includes some of the stakeholders and partners who commented on the proposed listing during the initial phases of the process, will help ensure that subsequent measures are well-balanced. Furthermore, since the genetically pure stock of this species is now extremely restricted in its distribution and population sizes, potential impacts to ongoing operations would be minimal. Marginal costs to government would arise from compliance promotion and enforcement activities, and from recovery actions.

It is anticipated that recreational fishing would not be significantly impacted within the flexible management approach envisioned under section 84 of the Act. Notwithstanding this, if limited closures were deemed necessary under the recovery strategy, they would likely only affect portions of a small number of water bodies. Given the abundance of other suitable sites for recreational fisheries in the area, these impacts would likely be negligible.

Rationale

The proposed listing of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Alberta population) as threatened under SARA would result in a positive net benefit to Canadians. The species will receive protection under the Act, and the development of a flexible implementation approach through the recovery strategy would provide for permitting consistent with recovery goals. Historically important in biodiversity and recreational fisheries, this species is now quite restricted in distribution and population size. A recovery strategy and action plan would produce recovery risk assessments for each of the small, largely isolated populations, thus identifying threats to be mitigated and contributing to reversing trends of decline while providing insight into other species facing similar threats.

The scientific assessment of the potential for the recovery of the species provides for some allowable harm from controlled recreational angling as well as from research activities that are beneficial to the species and that will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with a multi-stakeholder recovery team, which has drafted a recovery strategy for the species, addressing the key threats facing the species. As well, it is anticipated that the recovery strategy would provide for the continuation of the recreational fishery in a manner consistent with the scientific advice.

Mapleleaf Mussel (Great Lakes – Western St-Lawrence population)

The Great Lakes – Western St. Lawrence population of Mapleleaf Mussel is confined to larger rivers draining into Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, including the Sydenham, Ausable, Grand and Thames rivers. Overall, the extent of occurrence in Ontario has declined by nearly 50% of its former range. This mussel is threatened by habitat loss and degradation and invasions by zebra and quagga mussels. The Mapleleaf Mussel is listed as threatened under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007, and was assessed by COSEWIC as threatened in 2006.

The proposed listing would require the creation of a recovery strategy and an action plan.

Consultations

In 2006–2007, letters and workbooks were sent out to 11 First Nation communities and organizations, 4 Métis Nation organizations and 137 stakeholders. These stakeholders included 3 academics, 3 agricultural organizations, 48 non-governmental organizations, 2 federal organizations, 5 commercial fishery organizations, 1 industry, 55 municipalities, 1 professional organization, 2 provincial organizations, 9 recreational fishery organizations, 5 recreation organizations and 3 utilities. As well, public notices were posted in five newspapers.

In total, eight responses were received, seven of which supported listing the species as threatened. One response only acknowledged receiving the information. Respondents included three non-governmental organizations, one municipality, and three citizens from the general public. One other stakeholder acknowledged receipt of the workbook, but did not send responses back to the Department. Of these responses, none were received from First Nations or Aboriginals. The province of Ontario has indicated support of the proposed listing.

Benefits

Freshwater mussels play an integral role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems (e.g. nutrient cycling) and as indicators of water quality. Over time, it is anticipated that the present populations of the Mapleleaf Mussel could be stabilized, critical habitat would be protected and recovery actions would be undertaken. This species is already protected in Ontario and the likelihood of species recovery is greater if there are multiple levels of government working together. Recovery will require management and coordination between federal and provincial governments, research and monitoring as well as stewardship, outreach and education. This proposed listing would provide a basis for this type of interjurisdictional collaboration. In addition, stewardship among landowners should be encouraged, especially in areas of intensive agricultural development.

Costs

Minimal to no socio-economic impacts are anticipated as similar prohibitions and restrictions on the activities of stakeholders are already in place under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007, and the Fisheries Act. Impacts on industry are assumed to be negligible as restrictions on the activities of stakeholders (e.g. agriculture, urban development, industry and infrastructure) are due to existing legislation. There are no additional restrictions for industry stakeholders under SARA.

No incremental costs are anticipated to be incurred by the Government regarding compliance promotion and/or enforcement as a number of measures are already in place.

Rationale

Recovery of the Mapleleaf Mussel would benefit from the proposed listing. The status and protection provided to this species by listing it under SARA would match the level of protection provided by the province of Ontario. This would be an important step to supporting the bilateral agreement between the federal government and the province of Ontario and would support the established harmonization committees, which aim to minimize unnecessary duplication and address inconsistencies between the two levels of government.

The scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the species for Mapleleaf Mussel (Great Lakes – St. Lawrence population) provides flexibility which may allow for the issuance of research or incidental harm permits, providing they do not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Mapleleaf Mussel (Saskatchewan – Nelson population)

The Saskatchewan – Nelson population of the Mapleleaf Mussel is predominantly found in the Red-Assiniboine drainage system in Manitoba. Decreased water quality due to point and non-point sources (from agriculture, domestic waste, commercial and industrial activities) is the main threat to this mussel. The species was assessed by COSEWIC as endangered in 2006.

Consultations

In 2006–2007, workbooks along with letters were sent out to 16 First Nations, 5 Métis Nations and 11 stakeholders. The stakeholders included 3 non-governmental organizations, 6 municipalities, 1 agricultural organization and 1 provincial organization. As well, public notices were posted in four newspapers.

In total, six responses were received. Of the six responses, one was received from Métis Nations, one from a non-governmental organization, and four from citizens at consultations held for the general public. Of the responses received, all supported listing the species as endangered under SARA. Of these responses, none were received from First Nations.

Benefits

Freshwater mussels play an integral role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems (e.g. nutrient cycling) and as indicators of water quality, and these ecosystem values will be preserved if the species is listed.

Recovery of the Mapleleaf Mussel requires management and coordination between federal and provincial governments, research and monitoring, as well as stewardship, outreach and education. These measures would be facilitated through the proposed listing. In addition, stewardship among landowners should be encouraged, especially in areas of intensive agricultural development. Canadians and consumers would benefit from listing the species, as the present values of the species would be preserved.

Costs

Limited socio-economic impacts on Canadians, consumers, and First Nations are anticipated for listing the species. There is potential for some costs to industry associated with modifications to urban/industrial development, infrastructure and agricultural activities. These modifications would likely increase operating and capital costs; however, the incremental impacts are anticipated to be low because of current requirements under existing provincial and federal regulations. As well, there would be incremental costs incurred to Government for compliance promotion and enforcement. Precise costs are unknown, but significant costs are not anticipated in line with previously mentioned estimates.

Rationale

Listing the Mapleleaf Mussel as endangered would provide the basis for additional mitigation measures and protection to address anthropogenic threats that are jeopardizing the survival and recovery of the population. Listing under SARA will provide additional protection by enabling the development of a recovery strategy and action plan by a recovery team. The Mapleleaf Mussel and its habitat continue to be protected by the provincial and federal Fisheries Act and the Manitoba Fishery Regulations.

In addition, listing the species will provide resources to undertake recovery actions (research and monitoring) to gain a better understanding of the life history requirements, population, distribution, allowable harm and recovery times of the species.

The proposed listing of the species would generate added benefits as it would receive protection pursuant to SARA. The scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the species has indicated some level of harm could be permitted for this species, providing for the flexibility to issue permits pursuant to section 73 of SARA.

Listing the Mapleleaf Mussel (Saskatchewan – Nelson population) as endangered under SARA is expected to result in overall benefits to Canadians, as listing ensures the benefits of this species are preserved, and the costs to stakeholders of listing are expected to be low.

Eastern Pondmussel

The Eastern Pondmussel was one of the most common species of freshwater mussel in the lower Great Lakes prior to the invasion of the Zebra Mussel. The species has declined dramatically and now only occurs as two small, widely separated populations. The Eastern Pondmussel is listed as endangered under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 and was assessed by COSEWIC as endangered in 2007.

Consultations

In 2007–2008, workbooks along with letters were sent to 33 First Nations communities and organizations and 12 stakeholders. These stakeholders include 7 non-governmental organizations, 3 municipalities and 2 provincial organizations. As well, public notices were posted in four newspapers.

Of the 11 responses received, 4 were from First Nations, 4 from the general public, 2 from provincial conservation authorities, and 1 from a non-governmental organization. All of the respondents supported the listing of the species as endangered. The province of Ontario has indicated support for the proposed listing.

Benefits

Freshwater mussels play an integral role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems through processes such as nutrient cycling, and as indicators of water quality. Such ecosystem values could be maintained at existing levels if the species were listed. As well, the species would still be afforded protection under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007, and other provincial, municipal and federal laws.

It is anticipated that over time, the present populations could be stabilized, critical habitat would be protected and recovery actions would be undertaken. The likelihood of species recovery is greater if there are multiple levels of government working together. Recovery will require management and coordination between federal and provincial governments, research and monitoring, as well as stewardship, outreach and education. In addition, stewardship among landowners should be encouraged, especially in areas of intensive agricultural development.

Costs

No significant socio-economic costs are anticipated to Canadians, consumers, or First Nations. As well, no incremental costs for compliance promotion and/or enforcement are anticipated to be incurred by the Government. There would be minimal to low impacts on industry as restrictions on the activities of stakeholders (e.g. agriculture, urban development, industrial and infrastructure) are already in place due to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (and the FisheriesAct). There are no additional restrictions for industry stakeholders under SARA.

Rationale

This species will receive protection pursuant to SARA, and the development of a recovery strategy and action plan would enable the allocation of resources as appropriate to undertake recovery of this species for the enjoyment of future generations of Canadians.

The status and protection provided to this species by listing it under SARA would match the level of protection provided by the province of Ontario. This would be an important step in supporting the bilateral agreement between the federal government and Ontario and would support the established harmonization committees, which aim to minimize unnecessary duplication and address inconsistencies between the two levels of government.

The scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the Eastern Pondmussel provides for flexibility to allow for the issuance of research or incidental harm permits, providing they will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Rainbow Mussel

The Rainbow Mussel is widely distributed in southern Ontario, but has been lost from Lake Erie, the Detroit and Niagara rivers and much of Lake St. Clair due to the invasion of Zebra Mussels. Although the species still occurs in small numbers in several watersheds, the area of occupancy and the quality and extent of habitat are declining. In addition to Zebra Mussels, threats include habitat loss and degradation. The Rainbow Mussel is listed as threatened under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007. It was assessed by COSEWIC as endangered in 2006.

Consultation

In 2006–2007, consultation workbooks along with letters were sent to 15 First Nations communities and organizations, 5 Métis organizations and 138 stakeholders. These stakeholders included 3 academics, 3 agricultural organizations, 48 non-governmental organizations, 2 federal organizations, 5 commercial fishery organizations, 16 recreational fishery organizations, 54 municipalities, 2 provincial organizations, 1 professional organization, and 3 utility organizations. As well, public notices were posted in seven newspapers.

Of the 10 responses received, 9 supported listing the species as endangered under SARA, and 1 response was an acknowledgement of receipt of information. Of the responses received, none were opposed to the listing. No responses were received from Aboriginal, Métis, or First Nations groups. The province of Ontario has indicated support of the proposed listing.

Benefits

Freshwater mussels play an integral role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems (e.g. nutrient cycling) and as indicators of water quality. Ecosystems values would be maintained at existing levels if the species were listed, which would help support current legislative mechanisms such as Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 and the Fisheries Act.

Over time, it is anticipated that the present populations could be stabilized, critical habitat would be protected and recovery actions would be undertaken. The likelihood of species recovery is greater if there are multiple levels of government working together (federal, provincial and municipal). Recovery requires management and coordination between federal and provincial governments, research and monitoring, as well as stewardship, outreach and education. In addition, stewardship among landowners should be encouraged, especially in areas of intensive agricultural development.

Costs

No significant socio-economic impacts are anticipated to Canadians, consumers, or First Nations. As well, no incremental costs for compliance promotion and/or enforcement are anticipated to be incurred by the Government. There will be minimal to low impacts to industry, as restrictions on the activities of stakeholders (e.g. agriculture, urban development, industry and infrastructure) are already in place under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 and other legislation. There are no additional restrictions for industry stakeholders under SARA.

Rationale

A recovery strategy and action plan will be developed. This species will receive protection pursuant to SARA, while posing a negligible to low risk to the Department. Listing will provide resources to undertake recovery of this species for the enjoyment of future generations of Canadians.

The status and protection provided to this species by listing it under SARA would match the level of protection provided by the province of Ontario. This would be an important step to supporting the bilateral agreement between the federal government and the province of Ontario and would support the established harmonization committees, which aim to minimize unnecessary duplication and address inconsistencies between the two levels of government.

As the Rainbow Mussel was assessed by COSEWIC in April 2006, success in the recovery of the species will be determined in part by the speed at which habitat protection and recovery actions are undertaken.

The scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the Rainbow Mussel provides for some flexibility to allow for the issuance of research or incidental harm permits, providing they do not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Spring Cisco

The only known population of Spring Cisco in Canada is in Lac des Écorces, Quebec. This species has undergone a drastic decline in abundance in the last 15 years. Its main threat is the presence of Rainbow Smelt, an introduced species, as well as habitat degradation (i.e. eutrophication of the lake). A scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the species has determined that recovery is feasible. The risk of extinction for the population is high if the threats are not addressed. The Spring Cisco is listed as a species likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable under Quebec’s AnAct Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species and was recently assessed by COSEWIC as endangered due to its declining indices of abundance, its limited range, and the endemic character of the population.

Consultation

A public consultation on the addition of the Spring Cisco, a species inhabiting only Lac des Écorces in the Laurentian region, took place between February 12 and April 30, 2010. All participants were in favour of adding the Spring Cisco to SARA.

Consultation workbooks were sent to 26 organizations and municipalities to obtain their views on the Spring Cisco’s addition to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. The workbook was also posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry, and advertisements were placed in two local newspapers to inform local residents of the consultations. Three workbooks were returned, all of which were in support of listing the species.

The province of Quebec has indicated support for the proposed listing. A meeting with representatives of the municipalities of Lac-des-Écorces and Mont-Laurier, the MRC [regional county municipality] d’Antoine-Labelle, and the Comité de bassin versant de la rivière du Lièvre was held on June 16, 2010. Following the meeting, participants spoke out in favour of adding the Spring Cisco to SARA. On August 19, 2010, the MRC d’Antoine-Labelle passed a resolution making this support official among its municipalities.

A consultation workbook was sent to the Kitigan Zibi reserve, who confirmed the community’s support for adding the Spring Cisco to SARA.

Benefits

The population currently has no provincial or municipal protection. The Spring Cisco is not well known, and its addition to SARA would do a great deal to increase existing conservation efforts. Although the population has declined, the main threats to the species’ recovery can be mitigated or eliminated. The introduction of Rainbow Smelt can be managed through large-scale removals during the spawning period. Since the appearance of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in Lac des Écorces, water quality degradation has been the focus of provincial and local monitoring and awareness-raising programs. The population’s addition to SARA may help bolster these programs without adding to their costs.

The impacts of listing the Spring Cisco are anticipated to be positive. Any potential resources made available through stewardship programs would result in improvements to the natural environment. The presence in Lac des Écorces of a unique and endangered species may give rise to shoreline and water quality awareness campaigns, and associated improvement to the watershed’s aquatic habitats would represent a net benefit for the community (drinkable water, sport fishing, tourism and recreation activities, etc.).

Costs

The potential socio-economic implications of the proposed listing of Spring Cisco are anticipated to be minimal. Sport and commercial fishing would not be impacted as there are no threats from capture, either controlled or accidental, by sport or subsistence fishers. Stakeholders who would be impacted include holiday resorts, agricultural developers, and housing developers through a more focused application of existing fish habitat laws. The incremental impact is expected to be low as such activities would have to be conducted in compliance with existing legislation.

Minimal incremental costs are anticipated to be incurred by the Government regarding compliance promotion and/or enforcement, especially regarding any recovery program implementation costs (scientific research, increased monitoring, awareness-raising, revegetation, etc.).

Rationale

Listing the Spring Cisco under SARA should more effectively reduce threats to its recovery. The large-scale removal of rainbow smelt from Lac des Écorces should also help curb the population’s decline. Water quality awareness campaigns and shoreline revegetation programs should help preserve the Spring Cisco’s critical habitat. Such improvements could generate benefits for waterfront properties, improve the quality of sport fishing and help preserve the biodiversity of Lac des Écorces.

While it is impossible to assess the population’s abundance at the moment, listing the species should help fill the remaining knowledge gaps regarding the Spring Cisco’s biology, habitat and population status. If the species were listed, a recovery strategy and action plan would be developed.

Aquatic species proposed for amendment to listing status in Schedule 1 of SARA

Two aquatic species (one freshwater fish, one mollusc) are proposed for reclassification in status from threatened and endangered to special concern.

Shorthead Sculpin

The Shorthead Sculpin is a small bottom-dwelling freshwater fish that is endemic to the Columbia River basin in British Columbia. The species was listed as threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA when it came into force. COSEWIC’s reassessment as special concern reflects an increase in the estimate of the number of locations in which this species is found. The most serious threat to the Shorthead Sculpin is habitat loss and degradation from water flow alteration, drought, and pollution. A recovery strategy that includes actions necessary to meet recovery objectives and identifies knowledge gaps was drafted for this species. Critical habitat was not identified; rather, a schedule of studies was developed to lead to its identification. The draft recovery strategy was not posted to the Species at Risk Public Registry before COSEWIC conducted a reassessment of this species.

Consultation

As the Shorthead Sculpin was reassessed by COSEWIC in November 2010, listing consultations were consequently conducted in early 2011. Information was posted on the regional consultation Web site from February 17 to March 14, 2011. During its posting, 143 page views were recorded for the consultation homepage in English, and 20 page views were recorded for the French. A total of 11 page views were recorded for the listing consultation guide.

Along with a consultation Web posting, letters and workbooks were sent out to 28 non-governmental organizations, 21 First Nations groups, and 5 industry groups. A total of 2 groups submitted feedback: one from industry in favour of down-listing the species as special concern, and one from a First Nations group in favour of retaining the current listing of the species as threatened.

Benefits

Down-listing the species would not reduce the potential for survival of the species. The recovery target in the draft recovery strategy is to maintain the long-term viability of the species, which is likely still feasible under the special concern listing.

The scientific benefits in terms of improved understanding and knowledge of the species would not change as a result of listing, and the species would remain the only sculpin in Canada and biologically unique in northwestern North America. As well, it would still be of interest as one of five similar species in the streams of south-central British Columbia. As a species of special concern, actions would continue to preserve this important component of Canada’s biological heritage.

As this is a non-use species, there are no market benefits.

Costs

No socio-economic impacts to stakeholders, user groups and First Nations are anticipated as a result of a listing at the special concern level. Negligible cost savings are expected as a result of listing the species as special concern. Since there would no longer be a need to identify critical habitat, the schedule of studies that would be described in the recovery strategy would no longer be required. Nevertheless, some of the research may still be undertaken to improve knowledge of Shorthead Sculpin as a species of special concern. The habitat for this species would continue to be afforded protection under existing legislation.

The cost impacts of protecting the species’ critical habitat, if it remained listed as threatened, cannot be measured but can range from negligible to significant. With the proposed down-listing of the species, prohibitions on destruction of critical habitat would no longer apply.

Rationale

The ecological risk to the species is equally low whether it is listed as special concern or threatened. It is recommended to accept the COSEWIC reassessment and list this species as special concern. A special concern designation would allow for the development of a management plan, based on the draft recovery strategy, which would outline conservation actions that can be undertaken. These actions would be linked to other recovery efforts for other species in the same geographic area consistent with an ecosystem approach.

Wavy-rayed Lampmussel

This medium-sized freshwater mussel is confined to four river systems and the Lake St. Clair delta in southern Ontario. Although water and habitat quality have declined throughout most of the species’ former range in Canada, there are signs of improvement in some populations. Since the original COSEWIC assessment of endangered status in 1999, surveys have identified previously unknown reproducing populations. Threats include invasive mussels, increased siltation and declining water quality. Currently, the species is listed as endangered under Schedule 1 of SARA, but — in light of the new data — COSEWIC reassessed the species in 2010 as special concern.

Consultation

In 2010–2011, workbooks were sent out to 14 First Nations communities, 2 Métis organizations and 131 stakeholders. These stakeholders included 10 individuals who had attended recovery meetings, 35 non-governmental organizations, 70 municipalities, 13 provincial organizations, 1 academic, and 2 recreational fishery organizations. Along with letters and workbooks, public notices were published in 14 newspapers.

One response received was opposed to the down-listing of the species to special concern.

Benefits

Freshwater mussels play an integral role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems and as indicators of water quality. Negligible benefits are anticipated for the species by revising its status to special concern. Ecosystem values would be maintained at existing levels, and this benefit would be realized regardless of whether the species was listed. It would continue to be afforded protection under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007, and other existing legislation.

As a special concern species, the general prohibitions under SARA would no longer apply, and there would also no longer be a requirement to identify critical habitat or to complete an action plan. However, a management plan would be developed to maintain the long-term viability of the species. The SARA Management Plan would reinforce the protection provided by provincial legislation. It is anticipated that the management plan would recommend actions already outlined in the posted SARA recovery strategy. No benefits are anticipated for industry, Canadians, or Government. Currently, there is no information available on Aboriginal social and cultural values associated with this species, but no changes to any current practices are anticipated.

Costs

Since there would no longer be a need to identify critical habitat, some cost savings are expected. With the proposed change in status, prohibitions on destruction of critical habitat would no longer apply. Hence, any socio-economic impacts of protecting the species critical habitat would not be realized.

Moving from an endangered status to special concern status is expected to result in negligible costs to industry. These costs would be associated with protection of the species habitat as outlined in the Endangered Species Act, 2007 and other legislation. There would also be marginal cost to Government related to the development/implementation of the management plan.

Since there would be negligible costs to industry, no incremental costs are anticipated for Canadians. The impacts to First Nation communities are unknown as no information is currently available on Aboriginal social and cultural values. However, as no changes to any current practices are anticipated, there would unlikely be any impacts on First Nation communities.

Rationale

Based on the new data, including the discovery of new populations in previously unknown watersheds that has resulted in the COSEWIC reassessment, it is recommended that this species be listed as special concern. A special concern designation would allow for the development of a management plan by involved government agencies, stakeholders, partners and Aboriginal groups that would include measures to promote the conservation of the species with the intent of continuing the recovery of the species.

Additionally, DFO now has new abundance and distribution information to allow for monitoring of populations. There are no anticipated socio-economic, industry or Aboriginal concerns.

Aquatic species in which there will be a change in designatable units on Schedule 1 of SARA

This Order proposes to amend Schedule 1 by striking out one species previously listed as a single designatable unit (Eastern Sand Darter) and adding two new designatable units of the same species in its place (Eastern Sand Darter Ontario populations and Eastern Sand Darter Quebec populations).

Eastern Sand Darter

The Eastern Sand Darter is currently listed as threatened under SARA. The species is also listed as threatened under both Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 and Quebec’s An Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. In 2009, COSEWIC reassessed this species and divided it into two designatable units. Both the Eastern Sand Darter (Ontario populations) and the Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec populations) have been assessed as threatened. The official listing process would remove the Canadian population from the list of threatened species under Schedule 1 of SARA and add Eastern Sand Darter (Ontario) and Eastern Sand Darter (Quebec) to the list of threatened species under Schedule 1 of SARA.

Consultation

No consultations were undertaken as there would not be a change in the protection of the species or a change to the impact on stakeholders, Canadians, industry, First Nations or the Government.

Benefits

The benefits that were afforded to the species as one designatable unit would continue to be provided to both population ranges in Ontario and Quebec. No new benefits are anticipated for industry, Canadians, First Nations, or the Government.

Costs

No additional costs are anticipated for industry, Canadians, First Nations, or the Government. The full range of the species (Ontario populations, and Quebec populations) was already protected under SARA as threatened, and now that same range is simply protected as two designatable units at the same status.

Rationale

COSEWIC’s decision to assess the species as two designatable units was provided in the status report on the species and was based on the large range disjunction of over 500 km between the Ontario and Quebec populations, with no possibility of exchange between them.

Aquatic species for which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment that he not recommend their addition to Schedule 1 of SARA

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment that he not recommend the addition of three aquatic species to Schedule 1 of SARA. Of these species, one is a marine mammal, and two are marine fish. With regard to the Beluga Whale (Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay population), it is proposed that the population not be listed as special concern. It is further proposed that both the Striped Bass (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population) and Cusk not be listed as threatened.

A decision not to list a species denotes that the prohibition and recovery measures under SARA would not apply. It is important to recognize that there are a number of legislative and non-legislative tools (e.g. government programs, actions by non-governmental organizations, industry and Canadians) to support species conservation. Depending on the particular needs of a species, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and ultimately, the Governor in Council, may consider these legal tools as more appropriate than SARA to protect and conserve the species.

Beluga Whale (Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay population)

The Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay population of the Beluga Whale, which spends its winter in the Jones Sound – North Water polynya area, does not appear to be adversely affected by exploitation or subject to any other negative anthropogenic impacts. Possible overexploitation outside of Canadian waters is viewed as a concern for the animals that winter in this area. Although commercial fishing for Greenland halibut and pink shrimp, Pandalus borealis, take place in the area occupied by belugas in the winter, potentially harmful effects of competition by fisheries for resources have not yet been studied. In May 2004, COSEWIC assessed this population as special concern.

Consultations

From 2004 to 2005, letters and workbooks were sent out to several Inuit communities and three Inuit organizations that had some interest in possible listing. Public notices were placed in two northern newspapers in English, French and Inuktitut. Every community consulted expressed significant concerns about the listing. Another common theme voiced by consulted communities was that COSEWIC had not adequately considered the full spectrum of threats faced by these populations and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge). Comments also challenged COSEWIC’s population assessments, which are based on results of aerial surveys conducted at specific times and places.

In August 2006, the federal government announced that it would not proceed with the proposed listing at that time in order to consult further with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. All of the information collected as part of the consultation was summarized and made available to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. In July 2010, the Board informed DFO that it did not support listing the Eastern High Arctic/Baffin Bay Beluga Whale population.

Benefits

The benefits of listing the species would be limited. Listing the species as special concern would require the creation of a SARA Management Plan. As there are no known threats in Canadian waters, this management plan would have a limited impact on the population.

Costs

Listing the species as special concern would require the creation of a management plan. This would come at a cost to the Department with respect to staff time and funds and ultimately, would not change the level of harvest in Canadian waters (approximately 100 whales per year).

By not listing the species, no impacts are anticipated for Canadians, Inuit populations, industry or Government.

Rationale

Considering the lack of evidence of threat to the species, it is recommended not to list the species under SARA. There is limited evidence to support listing the species as special concern as the population is only lightly hunted in Canada and there is no evidence of any anthropogenic threat to the Eastern High Arctic/ Baffin Bay population of Beluga Whale or its habitat in Canadian waters. Listing the population would not address hunting outside Canadian waters.

As well, the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Narwhal and Beluga concluded in 2009 that the Canadian population is healthy, and that population modelling of the Greenland portion of the beluga stock (following the reduction in quotas after 2004) suggests a reversal of the previous stock decline.

If the species is not listed, as recommended, management and hunting of the Beluga Whale can continue to be regulated by the Marine Mammal Regulations enacted under the Fisheries Act. Further, the day-to-day management and conservation of the population would fall under the scope of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NCLA) and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board created under the Agreement. The joint wildlife management system is governed by and implements principles of conservation.

Striped Bass (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population)

The Striped Bass (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population) was historically an important commercial and recreational species. Climatic constraints, past overfishing, illegal fishing, incidental catch in commercial fisheries, habitat alteration, and contaminants have all been identified as probable causes to the species’ decline. All commercial fisheries for Striped Bass have been closed since 1996. In addition, all recreational and Aboriginal food, social and ceremonial fisheries have also been closed since 2000. Live release of incidentally caught Striped Bass is also mandatory.

The Striped Bass population of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence was assessed by COSEWIC as threatened in November 2004. Although Striped Bass spawn at a single location, meeting COSEWIC’s endangered criteria for small distribution, it was designated as threatened “because of the high degree of resilience evident from recent spawner abundance estimates.” COSEWIC identified threats that included bycatch in commercial Gaspereau and Rainbow Smelt fisheries as well as illegal harvests.

The scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the species concluded that recovery is feasible so long as no additional activities cause mortality beyond current levels. The implementation of mitigation measures, outlined in the “Rationale” section, should improve this population’s potential to achieve recovery targets for population objectives.

Consultation

Consultations were conducted between 2006 and 2008 with the use of consultation workbooks and public consultation meetings. Stakeholders targeted for these meetings were recreational fishers, commercials fishers, watershed management committees, resource users (forestry, land use) and the general public. Of the 231 consultation workbooks distributed, 65 workbooks were returned to the Department. Of these respondents, 55% strongly disagreed or somewhat disagree with a potential listing, 21% strongly or somewhat agreed with a listing, 9% neither agreed nor disagreed and 15% had no opinion.

Along with consultation meetings, letters were sent to the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. The major concern from two of the provinces consulted was related to the potential impacts that the general prohibitions would have on the recreational fisheries that target other species. As well, listing would also create significant impacts on recreational and commercial fisheries without significantly increasing benefits to Striped Bass beyond the current management regime. Two provinces were in favour of listing the species as it would contribute to the species’ recovery.

The Department consulted with 15 Aboriginal communities in the Maritime Provinces and Quebec, and met with the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council, the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council, the Native Council of Nova Scotia and the Native Council of Prince Edward Island. The response from these communities was a general lack of support of listing the species. Only one response in favour of a listing was received from an Aboriginal organization in Quebec.

Benefits

Striped Bass is currently managed by the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations and Quebec Fishery Regulations, 1990 under the federal Fisheries Act. Also, the province of Quebec has the delegated powers to manage this species. Management measures to limit harvesting levels have been gradually introduced since 1992. The federal Fisheries Act also contains habitat protection provisions that protect fish habitat. Recovery of this species is underway using existing legislation and tools. Continued legal protection under the Fisheries Act would ensure continued protection and recovery of the species.

There would likely be long-term benefits linked to the recovery of this population of Striped Bass. These would include consumptive benefits should the species be once again sustainably harvested. Non-use benefits could also arise as this species has a value associated with the role it may play in the ecosystem.

Costs

Listing the species as threatened would trigger the automatic prohibitions under sections 32 and 33 of SARA, which would create significant socio-economic impacts to communities. The closures of some coastal fisheries would create a loss of profits for fish harvesters, the fish processing sectors and recreational fisheries. It is anticipated that such impacts to the Rainbow Smelt, Gaspereau and American Eel fisheries could generate annual costs to the industry estimated to range from $134,000 to $671,000. Listing the species as threatened with a more flexible harm threshold would mitigate some of these impacts. However, this approach would result in incremental costs related to the development and implementation of the recovery strategy and action plan, and would not result in a substantially different biological outcome in terms of the long-term recovery of the species.

Rationale

Recent studies confirm that the population is recovering under the current restriction against fishing this species. There continues to be no directed fishery for Striped Bass in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Since the last COSEWIC assessment, a number of management measures have been implemented under the Fisheries Act to ensure the species’ recovery. Recovery of this species is underway using existing legislation and tools.

A population recovery target was defined on the basis of adult Striped Bass spawner abundance and a compliance rule of exceeding the target in five out of six years has been set. Recent stock assessment shows that the population has reached this target during the last four years (2007–2010). If the lower confidence limit of the number of spawners that returned to the Northwest Miramichi in 2011 exceeds 31 200 fish, the recovery limit and recovery target would be met.

In the last 18 years, there has been a five-fold increase of spawners abundance (1993–2010). Spawners averaged 35 000 fish annually in the last decade (2001–2010) and 50 000 fish in the last five years (2006–2010).

The scientific assessment of the potential for recovery of the species has identified additional management measures that can be implemented to further reduce incidental bycatch in certain fisheries. DFO intends to move forward with the implementation of these measures to enhance this population’s recent gains and achieve reference levels indicative of long-term recovery.

Furthermore, this assessment has identified the following measures that can sufficiently address the activities associated with the highest mortality ranking:

  • Increased enforcement patrols throughout the fishing seasons along the rivers in the southern gulf to reduce illegal harvesting activities;
  • Yearly area closure for angling activities on the staging and spawning grounds of the Northwest Miramichi River between May 1 and June 30;
  • Delaying the opening of the open water Rainbow Smelt fishery throughout the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to November 1;
  • Reducing the levels of mortality from Aboriginal gillnet activities on the Miramichi River through options of gear change, time change or location change;
  • Additional scientific research activities to provide a better understanding of Striped Bass spatial and temporal distributions and of Striped Bass bycatch levels in various fisheries;
  • Training of harvesters in fisheries with potential Striped Bass bycatch on how to effectively handle and release Striped Bass.

These measures limit access to the staging and spawning grounds during critical times, reduce interactions of Striped Bass with fishing gear, improve release practices and enhance conservation and protection efforts and further research to better understand the species distribution. These measures would provide legally enforceable protection measures to ensure protection and enhance the recovery of this population.

Analysis concluded that listing Striped Bass would offer low added value in terms of new protection except when it comes to the protection of this population’s potential critical habitat (spawning and staging ground). Continued efforts will be undertaken to protect the staging and spawning grounds using existing legislation.

Not listing the species offers the greatest overall benefit at this time because it will provide additional protection and recovery measures for the species without unduly impacting Aboriginal communities, provincial authorities and affected stakeholders. The proposed approach of enhancing management measures under the Fisheries Act is proportionate to the degree and type of risks affecting the population — mainly illegal fishing and incidental catch in other fisheries. These measures are expected to prevent this wildlife species from becoming extirpated or extinct and to provide for its recovery.

Cusk

Cusk is primarily caught as bycatch in the Atlantic Cod, Haddock, Pollock and Atlantic Halibut longline fisheries, although it is also caught as bycatch in lobster and other trap/pot fisheries. There is currently no known way to exclude Cusk from trawls, longlines or traps/pots. There are no estimates of absolute Cusk abundance in Canadian waters. There is consensus that Cusk abundance has declined since the 1970s. However, there is conflicting evidence as to whether Cusk abundance has continued to decline since the 1990s.

Cusk is currently managed under the Groundfish Integrated Fishery Management Plan. Under this management process, there is no directed fishery for Cusk and it can only be landed as bycatch within established caps set for each fleet and area in the groundfish fishery. At the time of the 2007 Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA), Cusk bycatch was estimated at 900 tonnes per year. Since 2007, DFO has lowered the bycatch cap for Cusk to approximately 650 tonnes, and implemented a number of other measures to manage Cusk. No other fisheries are authorized to retain Cusk. Cusk is also harvested under the Native Council of Nova Scotia’s food, social and ceremonial licence and as a bycatch in food, social and ceremonial and Aboriginal commercial fisheries.

Cusk was assessed as threatened by COSEWIC in May 2003. This assessment was resubmitted in 2006, following the referral of the matter back to COSEWIC by the Governor in Council. COSEWIC identified mortality from fishing, both direct and incidental, as the principle threat to Cusk.

The COSEWIC status report relied mainly on survey data of trawling (designed to catch Haddock) that showed declines ranging from 60% to 95.5% in Canadian waters, with the largest declines seen in the Scotian Shelf region. However, there is evidence that the trawl surveys grossly underestimate actual Cusk abundance, as there are issues with the catchability of Cusk in otter trawls and the fact that the trawl surveys do not sample the preferred habitat and depth of Cusk.

Consultations

Consultations were undertaken in 2004 and 2007 with the use of consultation workbooks; public notices in major newspapers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador; and general public meetings. Of the 209 workbooks sent out to target environmental non-governmental organizations, fishing industry, Aboriginal groups, provincial governments, academics and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, 18 workbooks were returned. The majority of respondents did not support the listing and referenced the current management measures as effective. In addition to these workbooks, 22 organizations provided written feedback. The workbooks, public notices and the general public meetings yielded the same response in that the majority of respondents did not support the listing due to concerns with the socio-economic impacts that would be felt if the species were listed.

Nine bilateral meetings were held with the First Nation communities and included multiple responses, most of which did not support listing the species as threatened. Concerns raised by Aboriginal groups during consultations included concerns over the impact on the Marshall Response Initiative on commercial fisheries, impact of listing the species when it is designated as a directed food, social and ceremonial allocation, and questions on whether the species should first be listed as special concern so that a management plan could be developed, thus having a lower socio-economic impact on stakeholders.

Two bilateral meetings were held with a fishermen’s association and a fishery advisory committee. Both stakeholders did not support the listing.

Options considered

Do not list under SARA (Option A): This option is based on a bycatch level of approximately 900 tonnes per year. Under this option, no new management measures were proposed from the base case of managing at 900 tonnes.

List under SARA (Option B): This option is based on a bycatch level of approximately 370 tonnes per year.

Benefits

Based on the results of the Recovery Potential Assessment conducted in 2007, the incremental benefits and costs of listing Cusk as threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA were estimated by comparing the two main options discussed above. The recovery potential for the species includes a model of the estimated increase in Cusk biomass after 15 years, based on different levels of Cusk landings.

Under Option A, the estimated increase in Cusk biomass, based on the model, is

  • 33% probability of a 100% increase in biomass.
  • 53% probability of a 50% increase in biomass.
  • 75% probability of no decrease in biomass.

Under Option B, the estimated increase in biomass would be

  • 50% probability of a 100% increase in biomass.
  • 73% probability of a 50% increase in biomass.
  • 90% probability of no decrease in biomass.

Benefits anticipated for this species include non-use benefits as this species has a value associated with the role it may play in the ecosystem, as well as its conservation for future generations. There may be potential ecological benefits that could arise as a result of the closure of areas (e.g. possibility of the rebuilding of other populations of fish). Benefits may also arise from potential future use of Cusk or other fish. However, non-market (use and non-use) values are difficult to measure because of their subjectivity and, as a result, estimation of non-market values are not available.

Costs

There is no incremental cost associated with Option A with a bycatch of 900 tonnes, as there are no incremental measures imposed over the baseline.

Under Option B, with a bycatch cap in the vicinity of 370 tonnes, incremental costs are expected to total $10.4 million per year in profits lost to producers (i.e. industry). This option estimated the incremental costs compared to a baseline with a bycatch cap of 900 tonnes. Using a long-term period of 15 years and discount rates of 3% and 8%, the total present value of incremental costs for this option is estimated to be approximately $123.9 million (at 3%) and $88.8 million (at 8%).

The following table summarizes the key incremental benefits and costs (quantitatively and qualitatively) that would impact stakeholders.

Cost-benefit statement

Incremental Costs and Benefits Impacts on Stakeholders

Option A
Total Present Value (2007–2022)

Option B
Total Present Value (2007–2022)

Option B
Annualized Value

A. Quantified impacts in dollars

Costs

Commercial groundfish fishery (in thousands of dollars)

$0

$19,143

$2,236.5

Commercial lobster fishery (in thousands of dollars)

$0

$35,860

$4,190

Commercial fisheries processors (in thousands of dollars)

$0

$33,810

$3,950

Total Quantified Costs (in thousands of dollars)

$0

$88,813

$10,376.5

B. Quantified impacts (non-monetary)

Positive impacts

Increase in Cusk biomass

Probability of a 100% increase in biomass after 15 years

33%

50%

-

Probability of a 50% increase in biomass after 15 years

53%

73%

-

Probability of no decrease in biomass after 15 years

75%

90%

-

Negative impacts

Employment

None identified

Approximately 2 900 workers in the fishing and seafood processing industries would be impacted in the short term (to varying degrees and not full-time equivalents). These reductions in employment are expected to result in a loss of at least $27.4 million in earnings. Medium- to long-term impacts could be reduced as some workers find alternative employment.

Regions

None identified

A total of 124 ports would be affected, most of which are located in southwest Nova Scotia. By landings, the top 5 ports affected are Dennis Point, Shelburne, Woods Harbour, West Head, and Clark’s Harbour. Combined, these 5 ports account for half of the projected revenue losses in the commercial fishery that are associated with this scenario.

C. Qualitative impacts

Negative impacts

Groundfish fishery and lobster fishery (LFA 34 and 41)

In addition to the quantitative impacts noted above, these fisheries may incur costs associated with an industry survey and SARA logbook reporting. Though uncertain, these fisheries may also face increased fishing costs associated with avoidance of the Cusk areas (e.g. additional fuel costs).

Processors

Processors may also incur some costs associated with an industry survey. However, these costs are expected to be negligible.

Government

Potential costs to Government include increased enforcement costs, additional administration costs associated with the SARA listing, and costs associated with an industry survey. Although these costs cannot be quantified, the magnitude of this impact is expected to be low. Reduced fishing activity may also lead to a loss of fisheries data which is important for managing the fisheries.

Aboriginal communities

Up to nine Aboriginal communities’ communal commercial fisheries could be impacted.

Aboriginal communities may also have catches of groundfish and lobster for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Due to a lack of data, this impact is not quantified at this time.

Individuals/Consumers

Limited if any impact on Canadian consumers. It is assumed that domestic supply and prices of various species would remain unchanged. It is expected that market demand could be met either through an increase in imports or an increase in domestic fishing of the same species (or a suitable substitute) in another location.

Positive impacts

Observer companies

Observer companies would benefit from an increase in revenue associated with increased observer coverage requirements.

Employment

It is expected that there would be an increase in observer employment, though it is unclear at present how many additional positions or hours of employment, and resulting earnings, would be created.

Other benefits

Various stakeholders (e.g. harvesters and processors) may benefit from the future use of Cusk once the species recovers to a point which permits such activity. Species conservation may also result in non-use benefits (e.g. existence and bequest values) though these values are not quantified based on available information. Other ecological benefits are also possible (e.g. rebuilding of populations of other species), but could not be quantified at this time.

Developments in fisheries management since 2007

In light of the COSEWIC report, DFO has implemented a number of measures since to protect Cusk. Fisheries management is not a static process — managers implement management measures as necessary to respond to current and/or evolving conditions. In the case of Cusk, the Department saw the need to implement changes as quickly as possible to protect Cusk or help it to recover.

New measures that have been put in place include the following:

  • The bycatch cap for Cusk in 4VWX+5 has been lowered to approximately 650 tonnes.
  • If the cap is reached in a given season, DFO provides notice that all Cusk caught must be released.
  • In areas where the incidental catch of Cusk is too high, DFO may close parts of the groundfish fishery in this zone, although this measure is discretionary.

The reduction of the bycatch cap to approximately 650 tonnes will raise the probability of increase in Cusk biomass. Although biomass increases and the probabilities associated with a 650 tonne per year bycatch cap have not been specifically identified in the RPA, a population modelling exercise was undertaken for a bycatch cap of 580 tonnes per year, the results of which showed a 66% probability of a 50% increase in Cusk biomass after 15 years. The population model for a 900 tonnes per year bycatch cap shows a 53% chance of a 50% increase in Cusk biomass after 15 years. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that for a Cusk bycatch cap of approximately 650 tonnes per year the probabilities would range approximately from

  • a 33% to 43% probability of a 100% increase in biomass;
  • a 53% to 66% probability of a 50% increase in biomass; and
  • a 75% to 86% probability of no decrease in biomass.

The lowering of the bycatch cap obviously will come with some incremental costs to industry. Considering the reduced bycatch cap of 650 tonnes, the incremental costs associated with Option B would be lower now than those estimated in the table above. However, it would be reasonable to assume that the level of impact for Option B would still pose a significant and disproportionate economic burden for Maritime communities.

Rationale

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to managing Cusk and has put in place a number of new management measures since 2007, such as the reduction in bycatch cap to 650 tonnes per year. In addition, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to implementing additional measures outlined below as part of the Groundfish Integrated Fisheries Management Plan to manage Cusk in the future.

Evidence from commercial fishery data indicates that there has been no reduction in the distribution of Cusk. Although the research vessel (RV) survey and commercial catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) suggest a decline in abundance, DFO’s interpretation of the data differs from that of COSEWIC. Analyses of the Halibut Longline Survey and commercial landings data in the 2007 Cusk RPA suggested that Cusk were still common and widespread and abundance has fluctuated without trend since the mid-1990s.

During the consultation phase, there was general disagreement with the designation of Cusk as threatened, and many knowledge gaps and management issues were highlighted, such as the following:

  • Cusk is currently only caught as bycatch and there are no known additional controls that could be employed to reduce Cusk bycatch.
  • A total ban on landings of Cusk may not significantly reduce current rates of fishing mortality, given its high rate of bycatch and poor post-release survivorship.
  • Cusk is listed as a food, social, and ceremonial species for the Native Council of Nova Scotia. In addition to impacting the food, social, and ceremonial fishery, listing Cusk under SARA could have an impact on Aboriginal commercial fisheries.

As noted above, since 2007 the bycatch cap has been lowered to approximately 650 tonnes per year. As a consequence, the probabilities associated with the biomass increase would be higher as compared to those estimated under Option A and therefore the incremental benefits of listing on Schedule 1 of SARA would be smaller.

In light of the new management measures implemented, the lack of scientific certainty regarding the decline of the species, the potentially higher probability of an increase in Cusk biomass, the socio-economic impacts and stakeholder concerns discussed above, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has proposed not to list the species under SARA and to continue to manage Cusk under the Groundfish Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.

In addition, DFO is also proposing additional actions that would be undertaken to manage Cusk going forward. These actions include the following:

  • An analysis of bycatch data will be undertaken to assess the conservation risks associated with levels of Cusk discards. Strategies to account for all bycatch and discards will be implemented through the Integrated Fishery Management Plan process and will include the development of improved data collection and monitoring systems to support reporting for landed and discarded Cusk.
  • Groundfish logbooks will be amended to include a column for discards, to improve reporting of discarded Cusk.
  • DFO will develop an abundance index for Cusk, against which a quantitative evaluation of stock status can occur.
  • Depending on the outcome of the abundance index, an assessment will be undertaken to determine the conservation benefits to Cusk of potential closed areas.

Aquatic species that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has advised the Minister of the Environment to refer back to COSEWIC

Humpback Whale (North Pacific population)

The Humpback Whale (North Pacific population) is currently listed as threatened under SARA. This population of the species was reassessed by COSEWIC as special concern in May 2011. The lower risk designation is a result of recent population analyses that indicate an increasing trend in population abundance. In the course of consultations carried out between November 2011 and January 2012, a number of concerns were raised with regard to the structure of the designatable unit in Canada. Some species experts expressed concerns that key data pertaining to the structure of the designatable unit was not considered by COSEWIC, and in their view, such data would justify the identification of two designatable units in Canada. While DFO has not produced science advice on this matter, it recommended that this species be referred back to COSEWIC for further consideration. DFO is committed to working with COSEWIC on this matter.

Eulachon (Nass/Skeena Rivers population)

The Nass/Skeena Rivers population of the Eulachon was assessed by COSEWIC as threatened in 2011. This short-lived species reproduces just once in its lifetime, and is extremely rich in fats. It spends over 95% of its life in the marine environment. Recent data from this area indicate the population is declining and the level of abundance in adjacent areas has declined substantially in the recent past. COSEWIC has advised that, due to new information that was not available when it assessed the Eulachon, Nass/Skeena Rivers population, this species now needs to be reassessed. In light of the need for consideration of new data, it is recommended that this population of the species be referred back to COSEWIC for analysis.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has developed a compliance strategy for the proposed Order amending Schedule 1 of SARA to address the first five years of implementation of compliance promotion and enforcement activities related to the general prohibitions. Specifically, the compliance strategy will only address compliance with the general prohibitions for species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened on Schedule 1 of SARA. The compliance strategy is aimed at achieving awareness and understanding of the proposed Order among the affected communities; adoption of behaviours by the affected communities that will contribute to the overall conservation, protection and recovery of wildlife species at risk; compliance with the proposed Order by the affected communities; and increasing the knowledge of the affected communities.

If approved, implementation of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act will include activities designed to encourage compliance with the general prohibitions. Compliance promotion initiatives are proactive measures that encourage voluntary compliance with the law through education and outreach activities, and raise awareness and understanding of the prohibitions by offering plain language explanations of the legal requirements under the Act. DFO will promote compliance with the general prohibitions of SARA through activities which may include online resources posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry, fact sheets, mail-outs and presentations. These activities will specifically target groups that may be affected by this Order and whose activities could contravene the general prohibitions. These groups include other federal government departments, First Nations, private land owners, recreational and commercial fishers, national park visitors and recreational users on parks lands. The compliance strategy outlines the priorities, affected communities, timelines and key messages for compliance activities.

At the time of listing, timelines apply for the preparation of recovery strategies, action plans or management plans. The implementation of these plans may result in recommendations for further regulatory action for protection of the species and its critical habitat when identified. It may draw on the provisions of other acts of Parliament, such as the Fisheries Act, to provide required protection.

SARA provides for penalties for contraventions to the Act, including liability for costs, fines or imprisonment, alternative measures agreements, seizure and forfeiture of things seized or of the proceeds of their disposition. SARA also provides for inspections and search and seizure operations by enforcement officers designated under SARA. Under the penalty provisions of the Act, a corporation found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $300,000, a non-profit corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000, and any other person is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both. A corporation found guilty of an indictable offence is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000,000, a non-profit corporation to a fine of not more than $250,000, and any other person to a fine of not more than $250,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, or to both.

Contact

Susan Mojgani
Director
Species at Risk Program Management
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Telephone: 613-990-0280
Fax: 613-998-9035
Email: susan.mojgani@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is hereby given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of the Species at Risk Act (see footnote a), proposes to make the annexed Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act.

Interested persons may make representations with respect to the proposed Order within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part Ⅰ, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Susan Mojgani, Director, Species at Risk Program Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E6 (fax: 613-998-9035; email: susan.mojgani@dfo-mpo.gc.ca).

Ottawa, June 19, 2012

JURICA ČAPKUN
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

ORDER AMENDING SCHEDULE 1 TO THE SPECIES AT RISK ACT

AMENDMENTS

1. Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (see footnote 2) is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “FISH”:

Cisco, Spring (Coregonus sp.)

Cisco de printemps

2. Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading “MOLLUSCS”:

Lampmussel, Wavy-rayed (Lampsilis fasciola)

Lampsile fasciolée

3. Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “MOLLUSCS”:

Mussel, Mapleleaf (Quadrula quadrula) Saskatchewan – Nelson population

Mulette feuille d’érablepopulation de la Saskatchewan – Nelson

Mussel, Rainbow (Villosa iris)

Villeuse irisée

Pondmussel, Eastern (Ligumia nasuta)

Ligumie pointue

4. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by striking out the following under the heading “FISH”:

Darter, Eastern Sand (Ammocrypta pellucida)

Dard de sable

Sculpin, Shorthead (Cottus confusus)

Chabot à tête courte

5. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “FISH”:

Darter, Eastern Sand (Ammocrypta pellucida) Ontario populations

Dard de sablepopulations de l’Ontario

Darter, Eastern Sand (Ammocrypta pellucida) Quebec populations

Dard de sablepopulations du Québec

Trout, Westslope Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi) Alberta population

Truite fardée versant de l’Ouestpopulation de l’Alberta

6. Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “MOLLUSCS”:

Mussel, Mapleleaf (Quadrula quadrula) Great Lakes – Western St. Lawrence population

Mulette feuille d’érablepopulation des Grands Lacs – Ouest du Saint-Laurent

7. Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “FISH”:

Sculpin, Shorthead (Cottus confusus)

Chabot à tête courte

8. Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order under the heading “MOLLUSCS”:

Floater, Brook (Alasmidonta varicosa)

Alasmidonte renflée

Lampmussel, Wavy-rayed (Lampsilis fasciola)

Lampsile fasciolée

COMING INTO FORCE

9. This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.

[27-1-o]

Footnote 1
www.sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=12345678-1&xsl=mainhomeitem&xml=D83AEB75-1EB0-4EF2-844A-93DBA88A3B19

Footnote 2
S.C. 2002, c. 29

Footnote a
S.C. 2002, c. 29