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Legal Listing Consultation Workbook- Speckled Dace, Okanagan Chinook and Northern Fur Seal

Information on Species Designated by COSEWIC

 The rest of this workbook is structured to provide you with specific information on each of the three COSEWIC-proposed species that are being considered for legal listing. Information is provided on COSEWIC status, distribution and biology, the reason for designation by COSEWIC, potential protective measures, and impacts. For the full status report for each species, including the threats and limiting factors, please visit: www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

When discussing any impacts associated with legally listing a species, it is important to consider what impacts could result from management actions implemented to:

  • comply with the automatic prohibition provisions in the Act for species listed as extirpated, endangered, and threatened; and
  • achieve recovery objectives.

In general, actions taken to comply with automatic prohibitions are immediate, while those implemented to achieve the recovery objectives are longer term. A recovery plan will likely expand the initial management measures taken to protect the species and its critical habitat for species listed as extirpated, endangered, or threatened. Any additional or expanded measures will only be implemented after further consultations.

3.1  Speckled Dace (Endangered)
3.2  Northern Fur Seal (Threatened)
3.3  Chinook Salmon Okanagan Population (Threatened)

 

Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus)
StatusEndangered
Last Examination by COSEWICApril 2006
Species biology and distributionThe Canadian Speckled Dace differs morphologically and genetically from populations in the United States, due to Cascade Falls (30 metres) acting as a natural barrier to upstream migration, allowing the Canadian lineage to evolve in isolation.
COSEWIC Reason for Designation

Speckled Dace are found in larger bottom substrates of riffle habitats and shallow stream edge habitats. They are small minnows, ranging between 7-9 cm in length. Though no spawning behavior or sites have been documented in BC, spawning is though to occur in mid-July, with newly emerged fry appearing in early August. Speckled dace live up to four years.

The Canadian population is assessed as endangered because of its small population, restricted distribution, and potential declines due to habitat degradation. The population size is thought to be declining based on inferred trends in the amount of limiting habitat. Speckled Dace in Canada is estimated to occur only in parts of the Kettle River system (Kettle, West Kettle and Granby rivers) in southern British Columbia.  However, additional survey work may indicate that abundance and distribution within the Kettle River system is greater than currently estimated.

Possible Protective Measures and Impacts

No immediate impacts from the Act’s general prohibitions are expected.  However, because activities that cause habitat loss are the main threat to the species, future recovery will mean that these activities may need to be reduced, changed or managed differently.  Reduced water flows and degraded water quality from agriculture, industry and urban development are considered the main threats.  

Examples of recovery measures to comply with future potential recovery planning objectives may include:

  • Changes in treatment of industrial, agricultural, and municipal effluents and pollution
  • modification to existing water withdrawal, irrigation and flood control measures
  • restrictions on instream and riparian activities
  • ongoing research and monitoring of population status, biology, critical habitat, and threats

Therefore, potentially affected stakeholders may include operations extracting water from the parts of the Kettle river system that impact Speckled Dace habitat.  Operations discharging effluents into these parts of the Kettle river may also be impacted. 

The proposed hydroelectric project at Cascade Falls is not expected to be impacted significantly by these measures, because its recent redesign has taken habitat threats into account.

It should be noted that recovery measures would be developed through the management planning process and implemented after further consultation.

Benefits of protection and recovery of this population would include the preservation of a unique component of Canada’s natural history.  As well, the Kettle River and the biodiversity it supports have important cultural value to the aboriginal community who live in the area.  Speckled Dace are key to this biodiversity as they play an ecological role as predators on aquatic invertebrates and as prey for larger vertebrates.

The species can also be considered an indicator of good water quality and any recovery plan for Speckled Dace will include actions to maintain or improve water quality, which will also improve the welfare of humans and other species in the Kettle River ecosystem.

 

Northern Fur Seal ( Callorhinus ursinus)
Status:Threatened
Last Examination by COSEWIC:April 2006
Species biology and distribution:

The Northern fur seal is Canada’s only fur seal species. Ranging from central Japan and the Aleutian Islands, and the Gulf of Alaska down to the U.S. – Mexico border, the species exists in Canada’s Pacific coastal waters mainly off the continental shelf during winter and spring. These offshore waters are used by the species for over-wintering and migration.  Individuals found off the BC coast are believed to come mostly from breeding grounds in the eastern Bering Sea (USA).  Breeding does not occur in Canada. 

The Northern fur seal is the smallest pinniped on Canada’s West Coast, with males reaching sizes of up to 1.5-2.0 metres, and 100-200 kgs, while females are much smaller in size and weight. Fur colour varies from black to reddish brown on males, and gray-brown on females, though both sexes have brown underfur. Mating and breeding takes place between May and August, while pups are nursed until late October/early November. Predators for the species include killer whales and large sharks, while pups are additionally preyed upon by Steller sea lions and foxes.

 

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:The Pribilof Islands population makes up approximately three quarters of the world population of northern fur seals.  It migrates to and from the Bering Sea through British Columbia waters and numbered about 629,000 animals in 2004. Although still relatively large, the population, as inferred from pup counts, has declined by 54% over three generations (1974-2004). The rate of decline has been particularly rapid since 1998, but the reasons for the decline are unknown. Entanglement in marine debris, disturbance, pollution, and environmental changes are thought to be contributing factors. Little is known about possible limiting factors in British Columbia and other regions where fur seals migrate. The population has rebounded from small numbers in the past.
Possible Protective Measures and Impacts:

No immediate impacts from the implementation of the Act’s general prohibitions are expected. Currently, the Northern fur Seal is protected bythe Marine Mammal Regulations under the Fisheries Act, which prohibits disturbance. Guidelines for marine mammal viewing have also been developed to protect marine mammals from disturbance.

Examples of recovery measures to comply with future potential recovery planning objectives may include:

  • additional research on interactions between fisheries and fur seals, and prey availability
  • conducting research on potential threats to the species and the level of impact of various human activities
  • establishing guidelines for those who wish to carry out research on the species or in areas of sensitive habitat

Therefore, potentially affected stakeholders may include the fishing sector and others who may impact prey availability.

It should be noted that recovery measures would be developed through the management planning process and implemented after further consultation.

Benefits of protection and recovery of this population would include the preservation of a unique asset to our environmental heritage, as northern fur seals are the only fur seals in Canada.  As well, as part of a larger ecosystem, northern fur seals play a role in the maintenance of this ecosystem.  Northern fur seals are harvested (under DFO licence) by aboriginal communities for subsistence use and have important cultural value for these communities.

 

Chinook Salmon Okanagan Population (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha )
Status:Threatened
Last Examination by COSEWIC:April 2006
Species biology and distribution:

The Okanagan population of chinook salmon appears to occur only in Canada in the Okanagan River, a tributary to the Columbia River. Currently, the population’s northern limit is the McIntyre Dam, near Oliver, BC, and its southern limit may be the north basin of Osoyoos Lake, immediately north of the BC border with Washington State. The population’s anadromous members migrate from the Pacific Ocean, through the Columbia River to Okanagan River and Osoyoos Lake, while the non-anadromous animals reside in Osoyoos Lake.

The Okanagan Chinook spawn around the third week of October, and fry rear in the Okanagan River and/or Osoyoos Lake from weeks up to more than a year. The anadromous members of the population likely exit Osoyoos Lake around April/May or in early July. The marine phase of their life history ranges from 1–3 years, with adults returning primarily as four or five year olds. Some Okanagan chinook appear not to migrate, instead residing in Osoyoos Lake. Their reproductive success is unknown.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:The Okanagan chinook population is designated as threatened due to its reduced and restricted distribution resulting from the McIntyre Dam; it small population size, and a number threats including direct loss of migrating juveniles and adults to injury and predation at the mainstem dams and their impoundments; indirect losses due to migration delays; loss of access to habitat upstream of McIntyre Dam; and water quality issues in spawning and rearing habitats.
Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

Stakeholders may be impacted from compliance with general prohibitions, development and implementation of a recovery plan, and the identification of critical habitat.

Examples of recovery measures to comply with future potential recovery planning objectives may include:

  • restrictions on ocean and in-river fishing of the Columbia River Summer chinook stock
  • changes to water management at McIntyre Dam and other water use facilities
  • modification to existing irrigation and flood control measures
  • restrictions on instream and riparian activities
  • changes in treatment of industrial, agricultural, and municipal effluents and pollution
  • ongoing research and monitoring of population status, biology, critical habitat, and threats

Therefore, potentially affected stakeholders may include the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, seafood processors, the tourism sector and others.

It should be noted that management measures will be

developed through the recovery planning process, and  implemented after further consultation.

Benefits of protection and recovery of this population would include the conservation of a unique and valuable component of the area’s aboriginal community culture, and potential opportunities for food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) harvest to the Okanagan Nation.