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Roseate Tern (Sterna Dougallii)


Environment Canada has developed its recovery strategy for the Roseate Tern, as required by the Species at Risk Act. This proposed recovery strategy has been prepared in cooperation with jurisdictions responsible for the species, as described in the Preface.

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

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


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Environment Canada (Atlantic Region)
Government of New Brunswick
Government of Nova Scotia
Government of Québec



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The Strategy was prepared by Andrew G. Horn and Andrew W. Boyne.



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We would like to acknowledge the significant effort of the members of the Canadian Roseate Tern Recovery Team:

  • Andrew W. Boyne, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service (Chair), Atlantic Region
  • J. Sherman Boates, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
  • Ted C. D’Eon, Local steward, Pubnico, Nova Scotia
  • Marty L. Leonard, Dalhousie University
  • François Shaffer, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Québec Region
  • Rebecca M. Whittam, Bird Studies Canada


We would also like to thank Marty Leonard and Sherman Boates, for information and for feedback on various drafts, and David Currie and Ken Gregoire of the Nova Scotia Bird Society for discussions and information on various points. The environmental assessment group of Environment Canada, Atlantic Region provided wording for sections related to decision making and planning. The cover illustration was provided by the artist, Diane Pierce. Thanks also to Canadian Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Section for their advice and Canadian Wildlife Service Recovery Section for their advice and efforts in preparing this document for posting.



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A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.

This recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Roseate Tern. The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects. Refer to the following sections of the document in particular: Potential management impacts on other species, Species information, Ecological role, and Recommended approach / scale for recovery.



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SARA defines residence as: a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating [Subsection 2(1)].

Residencedescriptions , or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/plans/residence_e.cfm



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The Roseate Tern is a migratory bird covered under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and is under the management jurisdiction of the federal government.  The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. The Roseate Tern was listed as Endangered under SARA in June 2003.  Canadian Wildlife Service – Atlantic Region, Environment Canada led the development of this Recovery Strategy.  All other responsible jurisdictions reviewed and approved the strategy (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Québec). The proposed strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41). It was developed in cooperation or consultation with:

  • All provincial jurisdictions in which the species occurs - New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Québec
  • Aboriginal groups - the Nova Scotia Native Council, the Acadia First Nation, the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq
  • Environmental non-government groups - the Sable Island Preservation Trust, the Nova Scotia Bird Society, the Mahone Islands Conservation Association, Association québécoise des groupes d'ornithologues, Comité ZIP des Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Attention Fragîles, and
  • Industry stakeholders - Guysborough County Regional Development Authority, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board
  • Landowners - Private landowners, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

This first recovery strategy for a migratory bird posted on the SARA Public Registry identifies what is now understood as nesting critical habitat under SARA.