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COSEWIC Annual Report 2003

Appendix III

Revised May 27, 2003
(with new text bolded)








To assess the conservation status of species that may be at risk in Canada, to report the results of its assessments, including their reasons and uncertainties, to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) and to the Canadian public. COSEWIC uses the best available scientific, Aboriginal and community knowledge to assess species. The assessment process is independent and transparent.


On behalf of the CESCC, the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee provides general direction to COSEWIC on matters of organization and procedures, such as membership, structure and criteria. Within this framework, COSEWIC's assessments are carried out and reported in an independent and transparent manner. To determine candidate species for assessment, COSEWIC uses, among other sources of information, the evaluations provided by the National General Status Working Group. COSEWIC documentation is provided to the National Recovery Working Group as a starting point for recovery planning.

Structure and Composition:

COSEWIC includes scientific experts in conservation biology, ecology, taxonomy, wildlife management, stock assessment, population biology, Aboriginal or community knowledge, and related fields. It is composed of experts from each of the provinces and territories (1 each for a total of 13), one from each of four federal agencies/departments (CWS, DFO, Parks Canada, and the Museum of Nature on behalf of the Federal Biosystematics Partnership), their alternates, the Co-Chairs of the Species Specialist Subcommittees, the Co-Chairs of the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee and three Non-government scientific experts. All members are appointed under federal legislation to four-year, renewable terms. Details of member selection are provided in Annex 1. The Chair of COSEWIC is a two-year appointment elected by COSEWIC from among its members by secret ballot.

Species Specialist Subcommittees- Species Specialist Subcommittees (SSCs, Annex 2) include two Co-Chairs and a minimum of five members. They develop status reports for COSEWIC assessments. The need for new Species Specialist Subcommittees is assessed by COSEWIC in consultation with CESCC.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee- The Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee facilitates the incorporation of Aboriginal traditional knowledge into the COSEWIC status assessment process. It is led by two Co-Chairs, selected by the Subcommittee from among its members.

Co-Chairs Subcommittee - The COSEWIC Co-Chairs Subcommittee includes the Co-Chairs of the Species Specialist and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittees, and is chaired by the chair of COSEWIC. It deals with technical aspects of the work of the SSCs and provides advice on such matters to COSEWIC.

Emergency Assessment Subcommittee- The Chair of COSEWIC may set up an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee to deal specifically with a request for Emergency Assessment. An Emergency Assessment Subcommittee includes the Chair of COSEWIC, COSEWIC members from the species' range jurisdictions, the Co-Chairs of the appropriate SSC and other COSEWIC members at the Chair's discretion. The Subcommittee assesses the available evidence and may classify the species into an appropriate risk category. As soon as possible, a report on the species will be examined by COSEWIC at a Species Assessment Meeting and the species will be re-assessed.

Operations and Procedures Subcommittee- This Subcommittee is composed of COSEWIC members and updates the COSEWIC Operations and Procedures Manual as requested by COSEWIC. All substantive changes to the Manual must be approved by COSEWIC.

Secretariat - Administration services and technical support will be provided by a Secretariat funded and staffed by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Mode of Operation:

Assessments are made on the basis of the best available biological information, including scientific, Aboriginal and community knowledge.

COSEWIC will be guided by the precautionary approach as set out in the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada.

COSEWIC meets at least once a year. Quorum is two thirds of the voting membership.

COSEWIC develops its own operations and procedures, including the creation of subcommittees and working groups, recognizing its accountability to the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee.

Assessment decisions are made on the basis of consensus whenever possible. When unanimity is not possible, decisions are based on a two-thirds majority vote.

COSEWIC provides to CESCC and to the public the complete reasons for each status assessment and identifies any uncertainties noted during the assessment.

The Chair of COSEWIC may seek advice from appropriate members on any issue of concern to COSEWIC.



To review and approve candidate and priority lists of species for assessment as submitted by the Co-Chairs Subcommittee.

To assess the status of species using accepted criteria and definitions.

To report its assessments and findings to the CESCC, and to publish its assessments and status reports.

To develop and periodically review scientific definitions, guidelines, standards and criteria to assess the status of wildlife species, to forward them to CESCC for endorsement and to publish them.

To review plans, annual reports, budgets, and activities of COSEWIC and its Subcommittees.

To establish working groups to deal with specific issues.

To provide direction to the Secretariat.

To prepare an annual report of all COSEWIC activities.

To receive unsolicited reports that have been reviewed by the appropriate SSC.

Species Specialist Subcommittees

To establish, with input from the Co-Chairs Subcommittee, priority lists of species to be assessed.

To commission status reports on eligible candidate species.

To review unsolicited reports and ensure that they meet the standards of commissioned reports.

In cooperation with COSEWIC members from range jurisdictions, wildlife management boards and outside experts, to review draft status reports to ensure accuracy, completeness, quality of analysis and application of relevant listing criteria.

To recommend a status to COSEWIC.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee

[The roles and functions of the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommitee are currently being developed.]

Co-Chairs Subcommittee

To recommend priorities for assessments within and among each taxonomic group.

To establish guidelines for the selection of competing bids for status reports, the drafting of status reports, and for the assessment of the quality and suitability of unsolicited reports.

To undertake actions requested by COSEWIC.

To provide advice to COSEWIC on matters related to the work of SSCs.


To provide administrative services, such as organizing and servicing meetings.

To provide administrative and technical support to subcommittees.

To administer financial support for status reports.

To maintain financial records.

To maintain files, records and other archival materials.

To disseminate information to the public, including the publication of status reports in both official languages.



To perform their duties in an independent manner.

To attend COSEWIC meetings, including Emergency Assessment meetings as requested by the Chair.

To review draft and interim status reports and contribute to status assessment deliberations to the best of their knowledge and ability.

For jurisdictional members, to advise writers of status reports of known sources of information, suggest species for the priority list and for status reports, guide report writers to appropriate contacts within their jurisdictions, review draft and interim reports, and provide regional expertise on the status of, and threats to species within their jurisdiction.


To ensure that meetings proceed in an orderly fashion maintaining the principles of independence, transparency, and scientific integrity upon which COSEWIC is based.

To head the Co-Chairs subcommittee.

To initiate Emergency Status Assessments.

To serve as contact person and spokesperson to CESCC, news media, and the general public.


At the discretion of the Chair, observers may attend COSEWIC meetings with advance special permission if their presence assists COSEWIC in fulfilling its mandate. Observers will maintain confidentiality over the proceedings and decisions of COSEWIC.



Selection of COSEWIC membership:

Species Specialist Subcommittee Co-Chairs and Non-government experts are recommended to CESCC by COSEWIC after an open competition. SSC members are selected by the SSC through an open competition. Jurisdictional members are recommended by their jurisdiction to the CESCC. All jurisdictional members of COSEWIC have one Alternate, also recommended by their jurisdiction. Alternates are members of COSEWIC. The Co-Chairs of the ATK Subcommitee are recommended to the CESCC by COSEWIC following nomination by appropriate aboriginal organizations.



COSEWIC Species Specialist Subcommittees:

There are nine* Species Specialist Subcommittees representing birds, terrestrial mammals, freshwater fishes, marine fishes, marine mammals, plants and lichens, amphibians and reptiles, molluscs and arthropods.*

* COSEWIC received approval from the Canadian Wildlife Directors in May 2003 to replace the previous Lepidopterans and Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee with a new Arthropod Specialist Subcommittee and a Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee. All lepidopterans will henceforth be considered by the new Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee.



COSEWIC Membership and voting structure:

Members of COSEWIC include 3 Non-government experts, 18** Co-Chairs of Species Specialist Subcommittees, 2 Co-Chairs of the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee, one Member and one Alternate of the following Federal Agencies: Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, and the Canadian Museum of Nature on behalf of the Federal Biosystematics Partnership. There are one Member and one Alternate from each of the following Provincial and Territorial agencies:
Yukon: Department of Environment
Northwest Territories: Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development
Nunavut: Department of Sustainable Development
British Columbia: Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection
Alberta: Department of Sustainable Resource Development
Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Environment
Manitoba: Manitoba Conservation
Ontario: Ministry of Natural Resources
Québec: (1) Société de la Faune et des parcs du Québec (for animals) and (2) Ministère de l'Environnement (for plants, mosses and lichens)
New Brunswick: Department of Natural Resources and Energy
Nova Scotia: Department of Natural Resources
Prince Edward Island: Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment
Newfoundland and Labrador: (1) Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation (for plants and animals except saltwater fishes) and (2) Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (for saltwater fishes)
There are 30**voting members: the 3 Non-government experts, 1 Co-Chair for each of the 9** Species Specialist Subcommittees, 1 Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee, 1 for each of the 4 Federal agencies and 1 for each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories.

** One each of the Co-chairs of the previous Lepidopterans and Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee will become a Co-chair of the Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee and the Molluscs Specialist Subcommittee, respectively. A call for applications for the remaining two Co-chair positions and any additional members that may be required by the two subcommittees is planned for the fall of 2003.