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Consultation Workbook on the Addition of Four Aquatic Species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk- Lake Winnipeg Physa snail, Channel darter, Shortjaw cisco, Atlantic Cod (Arctic population)

Part II: Species Proposed For Amendment To The Sara List

ENDANGERED

Freshwater Mollusc

1. Lake Winnipeg Physa snail (Physa sp.)

Status:

Endangered

Last Examination by COSEWIC:

November 2002

Distribution and Biology:

The Lake Winnipeg Physa snail is endemic to Canada and its distribution is confined to Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. There are currently five extant populations occurring in the following localities; (1) Fisher River Indian Reserve, (2) Pebble Beach, (3) Camp Morton, (4) Dunnottar and (5) Sunset Beach. Distribution is fragmented. Biology is unknown.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

Population of this Canadian endemic are confined to Lake Winnipeg where there are continuing declines in extent of occurrence, area of occupancy and extent of habitat due to habitat alteration, human disturbances and quality of habitat. Evidence suggests that nutrients and contaminants from sewage lagoons, industries, waste storage facilities and/or landfills are contributing to the declines.

Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

Legal listing of the Lake Winnipeg Physa snail will invoke the prohibition provisions of SARA. Over the longer term, potential measures may result in management measures that impact on individuals, businesses, and governments.

Examples of potential protective measures may include:

  • Measures to change land and water use activities - these range from the activities of individuals (i.e. recreation users, cottage owners, etc.) to those of commercial entities (i.e. forestry, farming, etc.).
  • Strict guidelines may be established for those who wish to carry out research on the species or in areas of their critical habitat.
  • More research may be carried out on potential threats to the species and the level of impact of various human activities, especially more research on impacts of lake eutrophication and shoreline alteration.
  • More research may be carried out on areas of critical habitat for the species (the process of identifying critical habitat for endangered species is still in the initial stages).

These broad ranges of measures have the potential to impact First Nations activities, cottage owners, recreational users and other industries.

It should be noted that the recovery planning process will involve further consultation.

THREATENED

Freshwater Fish

1. Channel Darter (Percina copelandi)

Status:

Threatened

Last Examination by COSEWIC:

May 2002

Distribution and Biology:

The channel darter, Percina copelandi (Jordan, 1877), is a small benthic species of the perch family. This fish is light sand or olive-coloured with brown speckles on its back. X-shaped markings are scattered over its dorsal surface. A dark spot or bar may be present beneath the eye and extend onto the snout. There are 8-18 brown oblong blotches along the lateral line linked by a thin brown line. Adults are commonly 40 mm in total length. Although the channel darter is uncommon in Canada, disjunct populations can be found in Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, specimens were found in the tributaries to Lake Ontario and along the shores and tributaries of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. In Quebec, specimens of channel darter were captured in the tributaries of the St. Lawrence River in the regions of Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Lanaudière, Mauricie-Bois Francs, Montérégie and the Outaouais.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This species exists in low numbers where found, and its habitat is impacted by siltation and fluctuations in water temperature.

Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

Legal listing of the channel darter will invoke the prohibition provisions of SARA. Over the longer term, potential measures may result in management measures and identification of critical habitat that may impact individuals, businesses, and governments.

Examples of potential protective measures may include:

  • Measures to change land and water use activities – these range from the activities of individuals (i.e. gardening, farming, recreation, etc.) to those of commercial entities (i.e. urban development, farming, ranching, etc.).
  • Measures to improve water quality (i.e. reducing suspended solids and nutrients) and control the timing of water flows into tributaries, aquifers, lakes and rivers.

It should be noted that the recovery planning process will involve further consultation.

2. Shortjaw Cisco (Coregonus zenithicus)

Status:

Threatened

Last Examination by COSEWIC:

May 2003

Distribution and Biology:

The shortjaw cisco is a member of a taxonomically complicated group of closely related ciscoes. Historically, the shortjaw cisco was once an important component of the “chub” fishery on the Great Lakes as well as the “tullibee” fishery on Lake Winnipeg.  The species is now believed to be extirpated from the Great Lakes where it occurred, except Lake Superior where it is currently scarce.  The species has also been documented from a number of other lakes including Lake Attawapiskat , Basswood Lake, Big Trout Lake, Deer Lake, Lake Nipigon, Lac Seul, Lake of the Woods, Lake Saganaga, Loonhaunt Lake, Sandy Lake, Sandybeach Lake, and White Partridge Lake from Ontario; Lake Athapapuskow , George Lake, Lake Winnipeg and  Lake Winnipegosis from Manitoba; Lake Athabasca, Lac la Ronge and Reindeer Lake from Saskatchewan; Barrow Lake from Alberta; and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

What little is known of the life history of the shortjaw cisco generally originates from the Great Lakes.  The species occurs in deep water generally occupying depths of 55m to 144m.  Growth is characterized as rapid during the first year followed by slower growth in subsequent years.  Maximum lengths attained are in the range of 350mm for males and 370mm for females.  Sexual maturity is believed to occur by the fifth or sixth year.  Spawning occurs over a clay bottom where the eggs are abandoned.  A 300mm female may produce as many as 20,000 eggs.  Freshwater shrimp, planktonic crustaceans and insect larvae are the primary food items of adult fish.  Little is known of the early life history for the species.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This species has been extirpated from Lakes Huron and Lake Erie and is in decline in Lake Superior and Great Slave Lake.  It is still present in Lake Nipigon and numerous smaller lakes where its status is not well known. Threats include fishing, introduction of exotics and climate change.

Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

Legal listing of the shortjaw cisco will invoke the prohibition provisions of SARA.  Potential measures could include:

  • Reduction or curtailment of fishing activities if they are deemed to be detrimental to the recovery of the species.
  • Monitoring of fisheries catch and by-catch to determine current and/or allowable levels of harvest.
  • Issuance of permits to allow incidental harvest at prescribed rates.
  • More research directed at better understanding of the taxonomy, life history and habitat requirements of the species. 
  • Continued support for broad based ecosystem and watershed initiatives that will contribute to the recovery of the species.
  • Development of stewardship initiatives that would involve stakeholders in recovery efforts.
  • Continued support for educational awareness programs to inform the public and stakeholders about the shortjaw cisco.
  • Development of recommendations to fisheries management agencies to promote site-specific recovery efforts.

Ultimately some measures may have the potential to impact on commercial, domestic and sport fisheries along with industries or developments that have the potential to adversely affect the species or its habitat.

Any individuals or organizations that may require one-on-one consultations should identify that need in Part III of this workbook.

A recovery strategy, currently under development for the shortjaw cisco, will address any issues that may relate to these provisions. A recovery strategy will also identify measures to further the recovery of the species and will involve further consultations.

It should be noted that the recovery planning process will involve further consultation.

SPECIAL CONCERN

Marine Fish

1. Atlantic Cod (Arctic population) (Gadus morhua)

Status:

Special Concern

Last Examination by COSEWIC:

May 2003

Distribution and Biology:

Arctic populations of the Atlantic cod are confined to a few coastal salt lakes on southeast Baffin Island. Populations are confirmed or thought to exist in only seven lakes. These populations exhibit extreme slow growth and late sexual maturity making them sensitive to exploitation or disturbance.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

Cod in the Arctic occur mostly in a few coastal salt lakes, and numbers of adults may be no more than a few thousand. Uncertainty with respect to the actual number of locales and populations makes it difficult to assign a higher status, but the known populations are sensitive to human activities. Poorly regulated fishing is a potential threat.

Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

Automatic prohibition provisions of SARA do not apply to species of Special Concern

A management plan may include the following protective measures:

  • Restricting recreational fishing in areas where the species is known to occur.
  • Restricting gear type used in the commercial fishery in areas where the species is known to occur
  • Strict guidelines may be established for those who wish to carry out research on the species or in areas or their critical habitat
  • More research may be carried out on potential threats to the species and the level of impact of various human activities

It should be noted that the management planning process will involve further consultation.