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Action Plan for the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) in Canada - proposed

4. Socio-economic evaluation

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) requires the responsible federal minister to undertake “an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation”Footnote 16. This section identifies the anticipated socio-economic impacts associated with the proposed action items in this action plan.

As per section 49(1)(e) of the Act, SARA requires a socio-economic evaluation to assess the costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation. For this action plan, costs of implementation of recovery actions borne by government agencies (e.g., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada Agency, Province of B.C.) are evaluated as a reallocation of existing government funds and are not considered additional costs to society. There are opportunity costs associated with these government funded actions. However these are not easily quantified.

The combined activities in this action plan are expected to rebuild the Northern Abalone population in the longer term. This will yield benefits for coastal First Nations due to the long history and significant social, cultural and historical use of the species. Recovery is also expected to provide wider societal benefits as abalone is a regionally iconic species likely to have a substantial non-market value.

Actions to recover Northern Abalone, such as coast-wide fisheries closures, pre-date the listing of the species under SARA in 2003. This evaluation considers recovery activities initiated since Northern Abalone was listed as threatened under SARA. It also considers the new and ongoing activities outlined in this action plan. The socio-economic costs of these actions are addressed below under the strategic objective headings of management, protection, education and awareness, research and rebuilding, and population monitoring.

4.1 Management

Complete fisheries closures were implemented under the Fisheries Act in 1990 as a result of significant conservation concerns for this species. This Action Plan does not propose changes to existing fisheries closures for abalone. The costs associated with the fisheries closures and foregone ability to harvest the species are a consequence of actions other than those in this action plan or a SARA listing. Consequently, no additional socio-economic impacts to the commercial, recreational or First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries are expected as a result of this action plan.

4.2 Protection

Efforts to protect a species-at-risk and to mitigate harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of habitat and critical habitat can result in socio-economic impacts for Canadian society if modifications to existing or future activities are required. However, Northern Abalone is found mostly in environments not suitable for the majority of coastal developments. As such, cost impacts for mitigating habitat threats related to existing development are not expected. In the case of future coastal projects, habitat alterations are expected to be low provided the existing Northern Abalone habitat protection Assessment Protocol is followed (Lessard et al. 2007; Appendix 2). However, the assessment protocol requires that a risk assessment be undertaken prior to any new coastal works or for modification to existing developments. This will result in compliance costs for proponents of such works to undertake dive surveys. No additional socio-economic impacts are expected to the broader Canadian public.

Subject to available resources, compliance promotion and enforcement efforts targeting illegal harvest of abalone will continue to be maintained through existing government programs over the timeframe of the action plan and are not expected to result in any additional costs to Canadians.

4.3 Education and awareness

Illegal harvest is identified as a significant threat contributing to the decline of Northern Abalone in Canada. To address this threat, this action plan calls for the continuation of communications campaigns to increase support for enforcement efforts, encourage public involvement and community stewardship of abalone.

Awareness campaigns targeting illegal harvest of abalone will continue dependent on existing government programs over the timeframe of the action plan and are not expected to result in any additional costs to Canadians. However, in-kind costs related to support to enforcement (e.g., Coast Watch) and stewardship activities have been and will continue to be incurred by First Nations, volunteers and Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) involved in activities funded through the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP) and the Aboriginal Funds for Species at Risk (AFSAR) programs.

Recovery actions related to patrolling, Coast Watch, education and awareness that further First Nations and community involvement have resulted, and are expected to continue to result, in ongoing capacity building and short-term employment opportunities. Some in-kind costs and funds from partners such as First Nations, and non-government funding organizations (see Table 4) are expected.

4.4 Research and rebuilding

Identification of key habitats is highlighted as an important component to abalone research and rebuilding plans. This action plan outlines studies (i.e., research and rebuilding experiments) that were initiated since 2003 and continue dependent on existing government programs over the timeframe of the action plan. This component of this action plan will not result in additional cost impacts for the Canadian public. However, the implementation of this component has resulted in some in-kind costs to First Nations for aggregation studies, hatchery operations and out-planting juvenile abalone studies.

As First Nations have been involved in and will continue to participate and lead in implementing government funded research projects; capacity building and some short-term employment benefits resulting from these activities will continue. Some in-kind costs and funds from partners such as universities, First Nations, volunteers and non-government funding organizations (see Table 4) are expected.

4.5 Population monitoring

Dive survey activities to monitor the status of the population have been ongoing and are expected to continue as outlined in this action plan. The majority of monitoring costs has been and will continue to be borne by Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada Agency. Some in-kind support is provided by First Nations organizations, and is expected to continue. Activities related to dive surveys that further First Nations involvement are expected to continue to result in short-term employment opportunities and capacity building.

4.6 Summary

General approaches to reach the population and distribution objectives outlined in the action plan are: maintain existing fisheries closures; implement a compliance promotion and enforcement plan; implement a communications campaign to stop illegal harvest and raise public awareness; undertake research; support rebuilding initiatives and monitor the status of the population. These activities have been on-going prior to this action plan, and some activities precede even the listing of Northern Abalone under SARA. Since the species was listed in 2003, the majority of the costs of recovery activities related to enforcement, research and population monitoring have been borne by Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada Agency. These agencies will continue to support these activities based on available resources, expertise, and varying species at risk conservation priorities over the timeframe of this action plan.

The protection and recovery of Northern Abalone in Canada depends upon a meaningful collaboration among the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Parks Canada Agency, First Nations, ENGOs and others in the implementation of this action plan. In-kind costs have been incurred and are expected to continue for First Nations and ENGOs participating in action plan activities. As well, some in-kind costs related to stewardship activities and enforcement activities outlined in this action plan are also expected for First Nations organizations that are participating in implementation of government funded recovery activities under AFSAR and HSP programs. In terms of benefits, community and First Nations involvement will result in capacity building and short-term employment.

In the longer term, actions to rebuild the population would likely yield benefits for coastal First Nations due to the long history and significant social, cultural and historical use of the species. Abalone recovery would yield wider societal benefits as abalone is a regionally iconic species and is likely to have a substantial non-market value.

Footnotes

Footnote 16

SARA s.49 (1)(e).

Return to footnote 16