Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards, as per the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

Consultation Workbook on the addition of the Atlantic salmon (Lake Ontario population), Rainbow mussel, Mapleleaf mussel (Saskatchewan-Nelson population) and Mapleleaf mussel (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence population) to the SARA List

poissoncoquillage1coquillage

December 2006

Please send your comments on this consultation to Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Central and Arctic Region at:

    fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Or by regular mail comments should be sent to the following address:

Central and Arctic Region

SARA Coordinator

Freshwater Institute

Fisheries & Oceans Canada

501 University Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3T 2N6  

To request additional copies of the workbook, please call 1-866-538-1609.

For more information on the Species at Risk Act, please visit the Public Registry at

     http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca

For more information on species at risk, please visit the Fisheries & Oceans Canada aquatic Species at Risk website:

    http://www.aquaticspeciesatrisk.gc.ca

or

Environment Canada’s Species at Risk website:

     www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca

Information on species at risk is also available on the website of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):

     www.cosewic.gc.ca

Credits:

Atlantic salmon – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Rainbow  mussel– Philip McColl, Graphics Arts Section, National Water Research Institute

Mapleleaf mussel- Philip McColl, Graphics Arts Section, National Water Research Institute

Introduction

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) was proclaimed on June 5, 2003, by the Government of Canada. SARA provides a framework for actions across Canada to promote the survival of wildlife species and the protection of our natural heritage. It sets out how to decide which species are a priority for action and what to do to protect a species. It identifies ways governments, organizations and individuals can work together, and it establishes penalties for failures to obey the law.

Two federal Ministers are responsible for the administration of SARA. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is the competent Minister for aquatic species. The Minister of the Environment is the competent Minister for all other species at risk, including those found in national parks, national historic sites and other protected heritage areas. The Minister of the Environment is also responsible for the overall administration of the Act.

The Act protects the plants and animals included on a list within SARA (Schedule 1).  Schedule 1 is also referred to as the List of Wildlife Species at Risk and will be referred to as the SARA List in the rest of this workbook. Candidate species are proposed for addition to the SARA List as a result of the work of the scientists and conservationists who are members of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). They conduct scientific assessments of the status of species. Community and Aboriginal traditional knowledge are also included in species assessments when available. The Government then decides which species are added to the SARA List as such action could have economic or social implications.

233 species were included on the SARA List of the Act when Parliament passed SARA in December 2002. COSEWIC had already assessed these species as “at risk” using new updated assessment criteria and current information. When the Act came into force in June 2003, these species were on the initial SARA List.

Since then, COSEWIC has identified more species that are at risk. The Minister of Environment is now considering recommending those species for addition to the SARA List. As part of that process, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is currently carrying out public consultations on the Atlantic salmon (Lake Ontario population), Rainbow mussel, and Mapleleaf mussel (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence population) in Ontario and the Mapleleaf mussel (Saskatchewan-Nelson population) in Manitoba. The purpose of this consultation workbook is to invite Canadians to let us know whether these populations should be added to the SARA List as a species of Special Concern.

Return to Table of Contents

Background

The Species at Risk Act

The Species at Risk Act strengthens the Government of Canada’s ability to protect Canadian plants and animals in danger of becoming extinct. This protection applies only to species which are included on the SARA List. Adding a species to the SARA List requires a two-step process. The first step is identifying a species at risk and the second step is the listing of that species.

Identifying a species at risk

 COSEWIC is an independent group whose mandate is to assess the status of plants and animals in Canada and identify those at risk. The committee is made up of biologists, ecologists, geneticists and individuals with Aboriginal traditional knowledge who are experts on wildlife species at risk. Members come from many areas, including government, universities, Aboriginal organizations and non-government agencies.

COSEWIC assesses the biological status of a species using the best available information on the biological status of the species. It reviews research, considers community and Aboriginal traditional knowledge, and applies strict assessment criteria. COSEWIC meets once a year to assess the biological status of species. Species that COSEWIC considers to be “at risk” are designated to one of the following categories:

Extinct –A wildlife species that no longer exists.

 Extirpated – A wildlife species that is no longer found in the wild in Canada but may be found elsewhere.

Endangered – A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

Threatened – A wildlife species likely to become Endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors threatening it.

Special Concern – A wildlife species that may become a Threatened or Endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Listing a species at risk

The process of listing a species begins when COSEWIC submits its assessment to the Minister of the Environment. Upon receiving the assessment the Minister has 90 days to issue a Response Statement on how he or she intends to respond to the assessment and, to the extent possible, provide time lines for action. The Minister then forwards the species assessment to Governor in Council (GiC)[1]. Nine months after receiving the COSEWIC assessment the GiC, on the recommendations of the Minister of the Environment, can decide to…

  1. Accept the COSEWIC assessment and add the species to the SARA List;
  2. Not add the species to the SARA List; or,
  3. Refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration.

GIC has nine months after receiving the COSEWIC assessment to decide whether the species should be added to the SARA List. If a decision has not been made within that time period, the Minister of the Environment will add the species to the SARA List.

What does it mean when a species or population is added to the SARA List?

The amount of protection the SARA provides depends on the assessed category. It is an offence to kill, harm, harass, possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of an Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species. It is also illegal under the Act to damage or destroy the residences of Endangered and Threatened species, or for Extirpated species if a recovery strategy has recommended the introduction of the species into the wild in Canada.

SARA protects all listed birds covered under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, all listed aquatic species and all listed species on federal lands. The provinces and territories are responsible for making sure that all listed Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species that are located outside federal lands receive adequate protection. However, if that protection is not given, the federal government can intervene, using “safety-net” provisions of SARA, but only after consulting with the province or territory concerned and carrying out public consultations.

The ministers of the Environment and of Fisheries and Oceans can, under special circumstances, make exceptions to SARA. For example, they can issue a permit that would allow a qualified scientist to carry out a research project that benefits a listed species or is required to enhance its chances of survival in the wild.  Exceptions can only be made if all reasonable alternatives have been considered and if the Minister can be assured that the survival or recovery of the species will not be jeopardized.

Recovery strategies and action plans for Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species

If a wildlife species is added to the SARA List as an Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened species, the competent Minister must prepare a strategy for its recovery.  Recovery Strategies must be completed and made available on the SARA Public Registry, for public review, within one year for newly listed Endangered species and within two years for Threatened and Extirpated species. The Recovery Strategy addresses known threats to the species, identifies critical habitat to the extent possible and gaps in knowledge. It also sets a recovery goal. The Recovery Strategy is followed up with one or more Action Plans that identify ways to reduce threats to the species and protect its critical habitat, as well as other measures to be taken to implement the Recovery Strategy.

The Recovery Strategy and Actions Plans are prepared in cooperation and consultation with Wildlife Management Boards, Aboriginal communities that are directly affected by the Recovery Strategy, and jurisdictions such as provincial or territorial governments who are responsible for the management of the species. Landowners and others who are directly affected will also be consulted. Upon completion, the recovery strategy is posted on the SARA Public Registry and the public has 60 days to inform the Minister of their views.

Management plans for Species of Special Concern

If a wildlife species is listed as a species of Special Concern, the responsible Minister must prepare a Management Plan. It must be posted on the SARA Public Registry within three years of the species being added to the SARA List. The Management Plan identifies conservation measures aimed at protecting the species and its habitat. A

Management Plan is prepared in cooperation with groups directly affected by the plans, including Wildlife Management Boards and Aboriginal organizations. To the extent possible, landowners, land users and others who may be directly affected by the plans will also be consulted. Upon completion, the Management Plan is posted on the SARA Public Registry and the public has 60 days to inform the Minister of their views.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION

Why are we having these consultations?

Before the Minister of the Environment makes a recommendation to GIC about whether to add a species to the SARA List, he or she will consider the balance between the social and economic benefits and costs associated with adding the species to the SARA List and the potential consequences for the species and Canadians of not adding it. The Government will meet with wildlife management boards, Aboriginal groups or organizations and other members of the public who have either a direct interest in the species under consideration or wish to comment on the issue. This includes – but is not limited to – landowners, land users, non-government environmental organizations, industries and industry groups. This consultation workbook is another way in which you can let us know what you think.

Comments received from Canadians will be carefully reviewed, evaluated and documented in a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS). The RIAS is an important part of the federal government’s regulatory process. In addition, a draft Order (an instrument that serves notice of a decision taken by the executive arm of government) proposing to add the species to the SARA List is prepared. This draft Order along with the RIAS will be published in the Canada Gazette Part I for a period of time to allow Canadians another opportunity to comment. The Minister of the Environment will take into consideration all received comments before recommending to the GIC whether to add the species to the SARA List or not. The GIC’s decision will be published in the Canada Gazette Part II and made available on the SARA Public Registry.

Invitation to submit comments

Consultations concerning adding species to the SARA List are part of the Government’s commitment to encourage public participation in programs designed to protect Canadian plants and animals and their habitat. The Atlantic salmon (Lake Ontario population) (Extirpated), Rainbow mussel (Endangered), and Mapleleaf mussel (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence population) (Endangered) in Ontario and the Mapleleaf mussel (Saskatchewan-Nelson population) (Threatened) in Manitoba have been recently reassessed by COSEWIC and are being considered for addition to the SARA List. We welcome your comments about whether these populations should be added to the SARA List.

A questionnaire has been provided near the end of this workbook. Please fill it out and mail your answers and comments to

Central & Arctic Region SARA Coordinator
Freshwater Institute
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
501 University Avenue
Winnipeg MB    R3T 2N6

or

fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

The deadline for submission of comments is March 30, 2007.

SARA Public Registry

The SARA Public Registry, available on the Internet, is a complete source of information on topics covered by the Act and offers access to public records concerning the administration of SARA. It is a key instrument that allows the government to respect its commitment to support public contribution in the environmental decision-making process. The Public Registry can be found at the following address:

http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca



[1] Governor in Council is the Governor General of Canada acting on the advice of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada (i.e. Cabinet).

Return to Table of Contents

Atlantic salmon (LakeOntariopopulation)

Status: Extirpated

Last examined by COSEWIC: April 2006

Biology

The Atlantic salmon has a “trout-like” body with an average length of about 457 mm.

The Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario completes its life cycle within the Lake Ontario watershed. Adult salmon migrate to spawning streams as early as March and April. The female selects a nesting site in a gravel-bottom riffle area and then uses her caudal fin to dig a nesting depression. Eggs and sperm are deposited in the depression and then are covered with gravel by the female. The average female deposits approximately 1540 eggs/kg of body weight. Following spawning, any surviving adult fish return downstream and begin feeding. They may return the following or subsequent years to spawn again.

Young salmon remain in the streams where they hatch, for two to three years before they migrate to Lake Ontario where they remain for up to two years.  Once mature, they migrate back to the stream where they hatched, to spawn. The Lake Ontario population was thought to ascend the streams in preparation for spawning in two separate runs, one in early spring (almost immediately following ice out) and another in September and October. East of Toronto, salmon entered streams in the fall during the spawning season in October and November with exceptionally few entering in late September while both the Humber and the Credit rivers are stated to have had both spring and fall runs.

Juvenile Atlantic salmon living in streams feed mainly on aquatic insect larvae. Upon entry to Lake Ontario, the fish feed opportunistically on aquatic insects and fish that are near the water surface. As they grow to adulthood, fish becomes an increasingly dominant component of their diet. In Lake Ontario, the primary forage fish available are two non-native species namely alewife and rainbow smelt. Adults cease feeding when they begin their migration to the spawning grounds.

Where is this fish found?

Atlantic salmon juveniles and spawning adults prefer streams with clean water and temperature that seldom rises above 25°C and naturally graded and stable beds with stony bottoms that range from coarse sand and gravel to large boulders. Little is known about the specific stream or lake habitat required by the Lake Ontario population of Atlantic salmon.

This population is restricted to Lake Ontario.

How many fish are there?

There are no remaining Atlantic salmon that are native to Lake Ontario.

Reports of the historical population levels of Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario have been largely based on casual observations or indications rather than rigorous population studies. Marked decline in large numbers of salmon began in mid-1800s and salmon were no longer present before 1900. Today, the Lake Ontario ecosystem contains apparently suitable habitat for Atlantic salmon; however, attempts at stocking with non-native Atlantic salmon have failed to establish reproducing populations.

Threats to the population

The disappearance of Lake Ontario salmon is mostly attributable to degradation of its habitat caused by the removal of native forests for timber, clearing the land for agriculture, construction of dams for mills across rivers that prevented access to spawning grounds and commercial fishing industry that harvested large quantities of salmon.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

Once a prolific species throughout the Lake Ontario watershed, there has been no record of a wild Atlantic salmon since 1898. The Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon was extinguished through habitat destruction and through overexploitation by a food and commercial fishery. Attempts to re-establish Atlantic salmon through stocking have failed, and the original strain is no longer available.

What will happen if this fish is added to the SARA List?

A recovery strategy will have to be developed within two years of it being added to the SARA List.

Rainbow mussel

Status: Endangered

Last Examination by COSEWIC:  April 2006

Biology

The Rainbow mussel is a small freshwater mussel with an average length of about 55 mm. The shell is yellowish, yellowish-green, or brown (in old specimens) with numerous narrow and/or wide broken dark green rays that cover the whole surface of the shell.

The Rainbow mussel is a long-term brooder. Adults spawn in late summer and females brood the young from egg to larval stage in their gills over the winter months. In the spring, when the larvae are mature, they are released into the water and when they encounter a suitable fish host, will attach themselves onto the gills of the fish. Eventually the larvae are encased onto the gills and proceed to undergo a period of development into juveniles. Juveniles eventually drop off the fish host and grow to adulthood. In Canada, suspected fish hosts include striped shiner, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, green sunfish, greenside darter, rainbow darter and yellow perch but no testing has been done to confirm these host(s) with certainty.

Rainbow mussels feed on algae, bacteria and other organic material filtered from the water column and sediment. Juveniles live completely buried in the sediment where they feed on similar food items obtained directly from the sediment or water column.

Where is this mussel found?

The Rainbow mussel is most abundant in small to medium-sized rivers, in or near riffles and along the edges of emergent vegetation in moderate to strong current. It occupies sediment mixtures of cobble, gravel, sand and occasionally mud or boulder and is most numerous in clean, well-oxygenated water of less than 1 metre. It can also be found in inland lakes in shallow nearshore areas of firm sand or gravel.

The Rainbow mussel is found only in southern Ontario in the Grand, Maitland, Moira, Saugeen, Sydenham, Thames and Trent Rivers and Lake St. Clair delta. The species appears to have been lost from the lower Great Lakes and connecting channels.

How many mussels are there?

A very small population, estimated at 7,200 individuals, occupies the Canadian waters of the Lake St. Clair delta, but it is declining at an estimated rate of 7% per year based on data collected from 9 sites in 2001 and 2003. Populations in the Ausable, Grand, Saugeen and Sydenham Rivers are small. The population in the East Sydenham River consists of an estimated 18,900 individuals, but appears to be declining. The upper Thames River population is estimated at 40,000 mussels, but may also be declining. The Maitland River supports the largest and healthiest population.

Threats to the population

The Rainbow mussel has been lost from the lower Great Lakes and connecting channels due in large part to impacts of the zebra mussel. If zebra mussels become established in the reservoirs of impounded rivers, they could pose a threat to riverine populations of this and other native mussels. Zebra mussels have already been found in 2 reservoirs in the Thames River. Heavy loadings of sediment, nutrients and toxic substances from urban and agricultural sources have degraded mussel habitat throughout southern Ontario. Studies have shown that the Rainbow mussel is particularly sensitive to copper and ammonia.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This attractive yellowish green to brown mussel with green rays is widely distributed in southern Ontario but has been lost from Lake Erie and the Detroit and Niagara rivers and much of Lake St. Clair due to Zebra mussel infestations. It still occurs in small numbers in several watersheds but the area of occupancy and the quality and extent of habitat are declining, with concern that increasing industrial agricultural and intensive livestock activities will impact the largest population in the Maitland River.

What will happen if this mussel is added to the SARA List?

A recovery strategy must be prepared within one year of it being added to the List.

 

Return to Table of Contents

Mapleleaf mussel (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence population)

Status: Endangered

Last examined by COSEWIC: April 2006

Biology

The Mapleleaf mussel is a medium to large freshwater mussel that can be recognized by two bands of nodules extending in a V-shape from the beak to the edge of the shell (see cover page). The shell is thick and ranges in colour from yellowish green through light brown to dark brown. Canadian specimens reach 125 mm in length, 100 mm in height and 50 mm in width.

Females brood the young from egg to larval stage in their gills. Mature larvae are released into the water and when they encounter a suitable fish host, will attach themselves onto the gills of the fish. Eventually the larvae are encased onto the gills and proceed to undergo development into juveniles.  After a period of about 50-60 days. the juveniles drop off the fish host and grow to adulthood. In Canada, the only known fish host is the channel catfish.

The Mapleleaf mussel feeds on algae and bacteria filtered from the water column and sediment. It is a long-lived species with individuals from Manitoba living up to 64 years of age. The average life span is 22 years.

Where is this mussel found?

It is most typically found in medium to large rivers in firmly packed coarse gravel and sand to firmly packed clay/mud sediment.

This population of Mapleleaf mussel is found only in Ontario and restricted to a few rivers draining into Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. The rivers include Ausable, North Sydenham, East Sydenham, Thames and Grand.

How many mussels are there?

The population size in East Sydenham is estimated to be 261,600 animals and for the North Sydenham it is estimated to be 25,600 animals. It is likely that the Grand and Thames River populations are an order of magnitude larger and the Ausable River population an order of magnitude smaller than the population in the Sydenham River. This would result in an overall estimate of approximately 5.5 million individuals.

Threats to the population

This population is threatened by habitat loss, degradation and effects of exotic species, particularly the zebra and quagga mussels. It occurs in areas of high human population that are affected by industrial and municipal pollution and agricultural runoff.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This heavy shelled mussel that is shaped like a maple leaf, has a very small area of occupancy in watersheds dominated by agriculture with past and continuing declines due to habitat loss and degradation. Although the mussel has been lost from the Great Lakes and connecting channels due to zebra mussels, the numbers of mature individuals appear to be very large in two of the watersheds and three of five watersheds have recovery teams in place for aquatic species at risk. Zebra mussels continue to be a potential threat in watersheds that have numerous impoundments.

What will happen if this mussel is added to the SARA List?

A recovery strategy must be developed within two years of it being added to the SARA List.

Mapleleaf mussel(Saskatchewan-Nelson population)

Status: Threatened

Last examined by COSEWIC: April 2006

Biology

The Mapleleaf mussel is a medium to large freshwater mussel that can be recognized by two bands of nodules extending in a V-shape from the beak to the edge of the shell (see cover page). The shell is thick and ranges in colour from yellowish green through light brown to dark brown. Canadian specimens reach 125 mm in length, 100 mm in height and 50 mm in width.

Females brood the young from egg to larval stage in their gills. Mature larvae are released into the water and when they encounter a suitable fish host, will attach themselves onto the gills of the fish. Eventually the larvae are encased onto the gills and proceed to undergo development into juveniles.  After 50-60 days, the juveniles drop off the fish host and grow to adulthood. In Canada, the only known fish host is the channel catfish.

The Mapleleaf mussel feeds on algae and bacteria filtered from the water column and sediment. It is a long-lived species with individuals from Manitoba living up to 64 years of age. The average life span is 22 years.

Where is this mussel found?

It is most typically found in medium to large rivers in firmly packed coarse gravel and sand to firmly packed clay/mud sediment.

This population is found only in Manitoba in the Roseau, Red, Bloodvein and the lower reaches of Assiniboine rivers.

How many mussels are there?

The population in the Assiniboine River is estimated to be between one and four million animals. It is not known if there are viable populations in the Red and Roseau rivers due to the current lack of extensive search effort. Only one specimen has been collected from the Bloodvein River.

Threats to the population

This population is threatened by habitat loss and degradation. It occurs in areas of high human population that are affected by industrial and municipal pollution and agricultural runoff.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

Small area of occupancy; all localities but one are in one system, the Red Assiniboine drainage, and a major event could extirpate the population; no evidence for recruitment (few small individuals); numerous threats including degrading water quality from agriculture, domestic waste, commercial and industrial activities.

What will happen if this mussel is added to the SARA List?

A recovery strategy must be developed within one year of it being added to the SARA List

Return to Table of Contents

Part 3:  Let us know what you think

By answering the following questions you will help the federal government understand the benefits and impacts of adding the fouraquatic populations -  the Atlantic salmon (Lake Ontario population), the Rainbow mussel and the Mapleleaf mussel (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence population) in Ontario and the Mapleleaf mussel (Saskatchewan-Nelson population) in Manitoba - to the SARA List.

Please fill out the questionnaire that follows and send us your answers either by mail

Central and Arctic Region
SARA Coordinator
Freshwater Institute
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
501 University Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3T 2N6
by fax (204) 983-5192
or by e-mail fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

The deadline for receiving comments is March 30, 2007.

For questions or comments concerning the Species at Risk Act or concerning this consultation process, please write to us at the address given above or call us at (204) 984-0599.

Thank you

Return to Table of Contents

Your name (optional):

Population of interest:  Atlantic salmon (LakeOntariopopulation)

Why is Atlantic salmon important to you? 

Please choose an option that best reflects your level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements.

What is your interest in Atlantic salmon?

 Strongly disagreeSomewhat disagreeNeither agree nor disagreeSomewhat agreeStrongly agreeI have no opinion
I think that Atlantic salmon are valuable because they play an important role in maintaining a healthy Lake Ontario ecosystem      
I think that Atlantic salmon will be valuable to future generations      
I think that many people in Canada value Atlantic salmon even though they may never personally see one      
I think Atlantic salmon are valuable because they provide commercial and recreational benefits      
Other (please specify)      

1)  Are you in favour of the Government of Canada adding the Atlantic salmon to the SARA List?

 Yes ­­                     No                                      Undecided

Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

2a) Based on what you have learned about the Species at Risk Act, do you think adding Atlantic salmon to the SARA List would affect your activities?

 Yes ­­                     No

b)   If “Yes”, do you see these effects as a cost or benefit to you, and in what way?

 

 

 

 

c) If you think adding Atlantic salmon to the SARA List will have a negative effect on you or your activities, can you suggest ways to reduce the impact?

 

 

3.   Do you think you could contribute to the conservation of Atlantic salmon as an individual or organization? Can you give a few examples of activities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    To be effective, the recovery or conservation of a species at risk must be a cooperative process that includes organizations and individuals with knowledge of the population and the threats it faces.  Please tell us which organizations or individuals you think should be involved in the recovery or conservation of Atlantic salmon.

 

 

 

 

 

5.   Please add any other comments or concerns (include additional sheets, if necessary).

 

 

 

 

PLEASE SUBMIT COMMENTS BY March 30, 2007

Return to Table of Contents