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Consultation Workbook on the River Redhorse and Deepwater Sculpin

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 River Redhorse and Deepwater Sculpin (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence populations) in Ontario. 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.

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PART 1:  Adding a species or population to the SARA List

Part 1:  Adding a species or population to the SARA List

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. These prohibitions do not apply to species of Special Concern like River Redhorse and Deepwater Sculpin.

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?à

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 River Redhorse and Deepwater Sculpin (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence populations) have been recently reassessed and designated by COSEWIC as species of Special Concern and are being considered for addition to the SARA List. We welcome your comments about whether the River Redhorse and Deepwater Sculpin (Great Lakes-Western St.Lawrence 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 or fax your answers to one of the following DFO offices:

 

Central and Arctic Region
SARA Coordinator
Freshwater Institute
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
501 University Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3T 2N6
Email: fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Fax: 204-983-5192

 

Quebec Region
SARA Coordinator

Fisheries and Oceans Canada
P.O. Bolx 1000, 850 route de la Mer
Mont-Joli, Quebec
G5H 3Z4
Email:especesperilqc@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Fax: 418-775-0542
Toll-Free: 1-877-775-0848


The deadline for submission of comments is February 28, 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).

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PART 2:  Information about the species

Part 2:  Information About The Species

River Redhorse

Status: Special Concern

Last examined by COSEWIC:April 2006

Biology

It is a large sucker with a broad, flat head, a long snout and a mouth that faces down.  Generally, mature individuals are greater than 500 mm in length. The maximum age of River Redhorse reported in Canada is 28 years.

The River Redhorse is a late maturing and long-lived sucker that requires large interconnected river habitat to complete its life-cycle. Spawning occurs during late spring in areas with fast flowing water and gravel or cobble riverbed.

River redhorse feed primarily on mussels, insect larvae and crayfishes.

Where is this fish found?

In Canada, the River Redhorse has been captured in both river and lake environments. However, its survival depends on access to suitable riverine spawning habitat: moderate to swift current, riffle-run habitat and clean coarse riverbed. Outside of the spawning period, the River Redhorse are found in deeper run/pool habitats. In the Richelieu River, young-of-the-year are found along vegetated shores where average depth is 1.5 m (maximum ≤ 3.0 m), the bank slope is shallow (≤ 20º) with fine silt, clay and sand sediment.

In Ontario, it is found in the Mississippi, Ottawa, Grand, Thames and Trent rivers and the Bay of Quinte. In Quebec, river redhorse were reported from the Châteauguay, Richelieu, Yamaska, and Saint-François basins and in the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. Additionally spawning-ready River Redhorse have recently been collected from the Gatineau River.

How many fish are there?

Population sizes are not available. However, large numbers of spawning adults (50+) have been identified in the Grand and Trent rivers in Ontario and in the Richelieu and Gatineau rivers in Quebec.

Threats to the population

The River Redhorse have restricted habitat preferences. They inhabit medium to large-sized rivers and are intolerant of high turbidity levels, siltation, and pollution. Rivers supporting River Redhorse are generally fragmented by hydroelectric, navigational and flood control dams. Dams can adversely affect populations by altering upstream and downstream habitat conditions, restricting the movements of individual fish, and limiting genetic variability between populations by preventing fish movement at spawning time. River Redhorse are also vulnerable to changes in the flow regime and siltation of their spawning habitats.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This freshwater fish species occurs in Ontario and Quebec, and although it has been collected at new locations in both provinces, sometimes in large numbers, this is thought to reflect the use of more effective sampling techniques such as boat electrofishing. It has likely disappeared historically from the Ausable, Châteauguay and Yamaska rivers, since the use of boat electrofishing has failed to collect it recently. Threats to the species include habitat degradation (pollution, siltation), stream regulation that affects water flow (dams) and habitat fragmentation (dams). The Canadian range is highly fragmented and rescue effect is improbable because of the precarious conservation status in adjoining U.S. States.

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

A management plan must be prepared within three years of the River Redhorse being added to the SARA List.

The River Redhorse is included in the proposed Grand River recovery strategy which includes the following actions that are already underway or completed:

  • Investigations on the distribution of River Redhorse were conducted between 2002 and 2004 as part of the graduate research program from Trent University. Results included new locations for the species in the Grand River.
  • Develop a genetic diagnostic tool to verify the field identification of six similar redhorse species including the River Redhorse.
  • Additional investigations into different uses of resources by Grand River redhorses in 2002-04 were conducted as part of the graduate research program at the University of Guelph.
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Baitfish Association of Ontario have developed a baitfish brochure that will assist baitfish harvesters to identify species at risk such as River Redhorse in order to reduce the accidental catches of these species.
  • In 2003, the Grand River Fisheries Management Implementation Committee who endorses the Grand River recovery strategy, included information on the project in four presentations made to the public across the watershed. In addition, the Committee included an article on the recovery project in their 2004 newsletter update. A pamphlet, highlighting the six species at risk found in the watershed, has also been produced and distributed to the public.

Deepwater Sculpin (Great Lakes-Western St.Lawrencepopulations)

Status: Special Concern

Last examined by COSEWIC:April 2006

Biology

This is a lake-dwelling sculpin with an elongate body and reaches an average length of 51-76 mm and a maximum length of 235 mm

Little is known of its biology. A maximum age of seven has been reported. Age at maturity is three years for females and two years for males. Aquatic insects are the main diet. Deepwater Sculpin is an important component of the diet of fish, such as lake trout and burbot.

Where is this fish found?

The Deepwater Sculpin is a bottom-dwelling species found only in cold, highly oxygenated lakes. Adults in the Great Lakes are usually found between 60-150 m. They prefer water temperature of less than 5ºC.

This population is found in lakes Superior, Huron, Ontario, Nipigon, and Fairbank in Ontario. In Quebec it is found in Lac des Iles, Heney, Roddick and Thirty-One Mile lakes.

How many fish are there?

Estimates of population size are not available because most locations where Deepwater Sculpin are found have not been sampled extensively. Therefore population data are mostly limited to presence or absence information. However in the Great Lakes fairly intensive long-term index sampling programs provide quite good measures of relative abundance.

In Lake Superior, Deepwater Sculpin are fairly widely distributed and are caught consistently albeit at quite low densities.

In Lake Huron, Deepwater Sculpin were relatively widespread but in recent years (since 1999), catches appear to have declined and abundance reduced; the Lake Huron Fisheries Assessment Unit has not seen a Deepwater Sculpin in their assessment program since 1998.

In Lake Erie, reports of Deepwater Sculpin have been rare and have always been only larval individuals (young-of-the-year). The reproductive status of the populations in Lake Erie is unclear as no adults have ever been observed in that lake.

In Lake Ontario, Deepwater Sculpin was once very abundant in the deep waters of the main basin. They were rare and considered endangered throughout the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and early 1990s. Since 1996, individuals of all ages have been caught suggesting that their current presence is due to increased reproductive success by a remnant population. Although continuous colonization cannot be conclusively ruled out, the appearance of gravid females, small young fish, and the increased appearance of recent year-classes provides strong circumstantial evidence that abundance is increasing and successful reproduction is occurring.

In Quebec, it is found in Lac des Iles, Roddick, Thirty-one Mile and Heney lakes.

Threats to the population

Threats may include predation from exotic species such as Alewife and Rainbow Smelt, competition for food with zebra mussels, pollution and lake eutrophication.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This species occurs in the deeper parts of 10 coldwater lakes, including lakes Superior, Huron and Ontario, in Ontario and Quebec. Previously thought to be exterminated in Lake Ontario, it now appears to be re-established in that lake, albeit in small numbers. Populations have been exterminated in 2 lakes in Quebec due to eutrophication of these lakes, and may be in decline in Lake Huron, possibly in relation to the introduction of zebra mussel.

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

A management plan must be prepared within three years of the Deepwater Sculpin being added to the SARA List.

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PART 3:  Let us know what you think

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 twoaquatic species - River Redhorse and Deepwater Sculpin (Great Lakes-Western St. Lawrence populations) - to the SARA List.

Please fill out the questionnaire that follows and send us your answers by mail or fax to one of the following DFO offices:

Central and Arctic Region

SARA Coordinator

Freshwater Institute

Fisheries & Oceans Canada

501 University Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3T 2N6  

Email: fwisar@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Fax: 204-983-5192

 

Quebec Region

SARA Coordinator

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

P.O. Bolx 1000, 850 route de la Mer

Mont-Joli, Quebec

G5H 3Z4

Email:especesperilqc@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Fax: 418-775-0542

Toll-Free: 1-877-775-0848

 

The deadline for receiving comments is February 28, 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

Your name (optional):

Population of interest:  River Redhorse

Why is the River Redhorse 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 the River Redhorse?

 Strongly disagreeSomewhat disagreeNeither agree nor disagreeSomewhat agreeStrongly agreeI have no opinion
I think that the River Redhorse is valuable because it plays an important role in maintaining a healthy freshwater ecosystem      
I think that the River Redhorse will be valuable to future generations      
I think that many people in Canada value the River Redhorse even though they may never personally see one      
Other (please specify)      

1)  Are you in favour of the Government of Canada adding the River Redhorse 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 River Redhorse 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 River Redhorse 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 River Redhorse 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 River Redhorse

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLEASE SUBMIT COMMENTS BY February 28, 2007

 

Your name (optional):

Population of interest: Deepwater Sculpin

Why is theDeepwater Sculpin 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 theDeepwater Sculpin?

 Strongly disagreeSomewhat disagreeNeither agree nor disagreeSomewhat agreeStrongly agreeI have no opinion
I think that theDeepwater Sculpin is valuable because it plays an important role in maintaining a healthy freshwater ecosystem      
I think that theDeepwater Sculpin will be valuable to future generations      
I think that many people in Canada value theDeepwater Sculpin even though they may never personally see one      
Other (please specify)      

1)  Are you in favour of the Government of Canada adding theDeepwater Sculpin to the SARA List?

 Yes                      No                                        Undecided

Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2a) Based on what you have learned about the Species at Risk Act, do you think addingDeepwater Sculpin 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 addingDeepwater Sculpin 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 ofDeepwater Sculpin 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 ofDeepwater Sculpin

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLEASE SUBMIT COMMENTS BY February 28, 2007

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