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Recovery Strategy for Cultus Pygmy Sculpin

Recovery

7. Recovery Goal

The recovery goal for Cultus pygmy sculpin is to ensure the long-term viability of the population in the wild.  This taxon is likely to remain at an elevated risk due to the population’s extremely limited distribution.

8. Recovery Objectives

Recovery objectives are stated as follows:

  1. Foster awareness of Cultus pygmy sculpin and its conservation status. Encourage active local involvement in stewardship and habitat protection.
  2. Maintain, and where possible enhance, the ecological integrity of habitat for Cultus pygmy sculpin.
  3. Increase scientific understanding of Cultus pygmy sculpin through additional investigation of its natural history, critical habitat and threats to its persistence.

9. Approaches to Meeting Recovery Objectives

The general approaches recommended in this recovery strategy include:

  • establish and support stewardship initiatives,
  • undertake specific research activities to fill knowledge gaps and clarify threats,
  • delineate and protect[1] key habitats,
  • minimize impacts from land and water use, and
  • design and implement sound monitoring programs.

A description of the recommended strategies and approaches is presented in Table 1.  These approaches will be further detailed in one or more Action Plans, to be developed with the participation of a Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) or alternative working group.  Further plans and decisions may require involvement of stakeholders and participants including government agencies, First Nations, private land owners, industry and local stewardship groups.

Table 1.  Prioritized strategies and recommended approaches for the recovery of Cultus pygmy sculpin.

Priority[2]StrategyApproachesPerformance Measure [3]
NecessaryEstablish and support a Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) or alternative working group for Cultus pygmy sculpin.
  1. Invite stakeholders and interested parties to participate in a RIG.
  2. Encourage local governments to have membership or representation on RIGs to facilitate Recovery Action Plan communication and implementation. 
  3. Establish the RIG leadership (chair, facilitator, etc.), develop terms of reference, and obtain necessary funding to support RIG activities. 
  4. Develop and implement one or more Action Plans, which are to be guided by the Recovery Strategy.
Has a RIG or working group been established?  Is the RIG adequately supported with funding and technical expertise?  Has an Action Plan been developed?  Is the RIG achieving the goals outlined in the Recovery Strategy?
NecessaryAssess taxonomic status of Cultus pygmy sculpin.Undertake phylogenetic studies to clarify taxonomic status relative to C. aleuticus.Has taxonomic status of Cultus pygmy sculpin been clarified?
NecessaryAddress information gaps that inhibit conservation of Cultus pygmy sculpin.

Address key information gaps including:

  1. habitat use and requirements, in particular spawning habitat
  2. life history information, in particular differences with C. aleuticus
  3. causes of mortality (e.g., temperature, pollutants, predation, siltation of incubation habitat, etc.)
  4. limiting factors to population growth.
  5. adult diets
Are there key information gaps that inhibit conservation of Cultus pygmy sculpin?
PrimaryClarify and address threats to Cultus pygmy sculpin.  

Undertake appropriate research to clarify threats, including:

  1. Assess threats from non-native species.
  2. Assess implications for Cultus pygmy sculpin from recovery actions aimed at Cultus sockeye.
  3. Assess effects of land and water use.
Have threats been clarified and assessed?  Are threats being mitigated?
PrimaryConduct studies to help define critical habitat for Cultus pygmy sculpin.Undertake necessary research to define critical habitat and to delineate it in the wild.  See Section ‎6.2 for a list of necessary research activities.Has critical habitat been defined for Cultus pygmy sculpin?
PrimaryDevelop and implement a long-term monitoring program.

Recovery Team and RIG to develop a monitoring program to assess population response to management activities or threats.  Monitoring may include:

  • trends in abundance of Cultus pygmy sculpin and its prey species,
  • trends in abundance and distribution of non-native species that pose threats to Cultus pygmy sculpin
  • trends in habitat quantity and quality,
  • water quality,
  • and use, and
  • water use.

Exercise care to ensure that census methods do not impact the population.

RIG will need to secure long term funding to ensure implementation of an effective monitoring program.  Monitoring priorities will need to be set within the constraints of available budget.

Have monitoring programs been implemented?

How long has a monitoring program been in place?  Is it effective?  Is it a benign activity for the population? Is funding secure for the long term?

Secondary Develop a watershed-scale land use plan that identifies and protects key areas, and ensures that cumulative impacts of development in the watershed do not adversely impact key habitats. RIG will work with stakeholders to ensure that watershed development plans for the drainage protect key habitats.  Carefully consider threats to Cultus pygmy sculpin, and exercise caution (in favour of conservation) when planning/regulating/enforcing land development, water use and fisheries regulations. Have key areas in the watershed (i.e., those that are disproportionately important for maintaining habitat) been identified?  Has a watershed plan that recognizes these habitats as important been developed? Have key habitats been effectively protected?
SecondaryEstablish water quality and water use objectives for Cultus Lake.
  1. Current provincial water quality standards for the protection of aquatic life are likely appropriate guidelines for basic parameters of water quality (see http://srmwww.gov.bc.ca/risc/pubs/aquatic/interp/index.htm).  
  2. Assess the need for species-specific water quality objectives.
  3. Communicate objectives to appropriate authorities and stakeholders
  4. Assess the need for a comprehensive water management plan for Cultus Lake.
Have water quality and water use objectives been established and communicated to relevant regulators and stakeholders?
SecondaryInform and educate stakeholders and the general public about the species and general biodiversity values.

RIG to work with government agencies and educators to develop

  1. educational material (e.g., an educational brochure, web-based material) to explain the general biology of the species, its biodiversity values and threats to its persistence.  Consider developing material for project WILD http://www.hctf.ca/wild/about.htm
  2. ducational material for use in public schools, particularly schools in the vicinity of Cultus Lake.
  3. educational signage for placement at specific locations (e.g., road crossings, habitat enhancement projects, etc.).  Obtain funding for sign construction and maintenance.
Have educational materials been produced? Has public perception and awareness been affected?  How many classes have received educational presentations?
Secondary Jointly develop land management strategies for crown and private lands.Develop criteria for assessing effects of land developments on aquatic habitats and develop guidelines for good stewardship.  For private lands, work with land owners to encourage good stewardship. Develop and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs), as needed.  Develop and use conservation covenants and stewardship agreements where useful.Have land management criteria been developed?  Is land development meeting the criteria? Have BMPs been developed and communicated? Is there compliance with BMPs?
SecondaryDevelop sound protocols for scientific investigations (e.g., limit number of fish collected each year, etc.)Recovery Team to work with government agencies to set boundaries for experimental work and collection activities.  Note: SARA permits are required to legally collect and undertake research on a listed wildlife species.Have scientific investigation protocols been set and communicated?  Have they been implemented?



[2] Priority has been assigned based on professional judgement into one of three groups, from highest to lowest: necessary, primary, secondary.

[3] Performance measures plot the progress toward meeting the stated objectives.  The performance measures are presented here as questions, the answers to which can be plotted in time to monitor progress.



[1] Protection can be achieved through a variety of mechanisms including: voluntary stewardship agreements, conservation covenants, sale by willing vendors on private lands, land use designations, and protected areas.