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Recovery Strategy for the Atlantic Whitefish

Appendix C: Record of Consultations

 The Atlantic whitefish is an aquatic species under the federal jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. There are few people in Canada with scientific, traditional or local knowledge of this species as its known historical distribution is limited to two watersheds in southwest Nova Scotia, and its present distribution is now limited to three small connected semi-natural lakes in the Petite Rivière watershed (Minamkeak, Milipsigate and Hebb lakes).  An attempt to establish a back-up population of hatchery-reared Atlantic whitefish is also underway in Anderson Lake, N.S.; however, the success of this endeavor has yet to be determined.   

To assist in the development of this recovery strategy, DFO brought together a group of experts and representatives from multiple levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal), environmental non-government organizations, academia, and industry groups. Specific members of the Atlantic Whitefish Conservation and Recovery Team and their affiliations can be found on pages v - vi of the preamble to this recovery strategy.

Comments on the proposed draft strategy were sought from all members of the Recovery Team.  The strategy was also reviewed by relevant provincial government Directors from the province of Nova Scotia. 

Recreational anglers were surveyed in preparation for the Atlantic whitefish Allowable Harm Assessment (Bradford et al. 2004a).  This assessment, summarised in Section 2.7 (Allowable Activities) of this strategy, was subject to a full peer review through the Canadian Science Advisory process (DFO 2004a).

Communications regarding Atlantic whitefish were made regularly with theYarmouth/ Shelburne County Gaspereau Advisory Committee and the Queens/ Lunenburg County Gaspereau Advisory Committee, and particularly during the formation of the Recovery Team.  These advisory committees are chaired by DFO and deal with the commercial and recreational gaspereau fisheries.

Provincial Recreational Fisheries Advisory Councils (RFAC) held public consultations over the past four years in the RFAC 3 area (Lunenburg and Halifax counties) on all initiatives that restricted angling in an attempt to prevent harm to Atlantic whitefish.  Those initiatives included the delayed opening (June 30 instead of April 1) of the angling season in the waters of Minamkeak, Milipsigate and Hebb lakes, the extension of that angling closure to an unnamed tributary to facilitate enforcement, the prohibition on using bait from July 1 to September 30 in those same lakes and tributary, and the stocking initiative in Anderson Lake.   Attendees included representatives from local river, angling and wildlife associations, and other interested individuals.  DFO regularly attends the RFAC meetings and is provided with Minutes of the meetings. The province’s representative on the Atlantic Whitefish Conservation and Recovery Team provided regular updates of these consultations to recovery team members.

Acadia First Nations elders from three Reserves were interviewed in an attempt to gain an understanding of the status, trend and recovery considerations for Atlantic whitefish from the local Aboriginal Community.  Two elders reported having caught Atlantic whitefish in the 1940s-50s in areas known to be occupied by lake whitefish (Bradford et al. 2004a).  Other general communication efforts regarding Atlantic whitefish have been made with First Nations People since the establishment of the Recovery Team in 1999.

Discussion between DFO and the owners of land surrounding Anderson Lake occurred between June 2003 and November 2005 prior to the release of Atlantic whitefish into Anderson Lake.   DFO and the two landholders have signed Working Agreements which will guide a cooperative approach to development activities around the lake, and will aim to mitigate any potential harm to Atlantic whitefish.

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