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Recovery Strategy for Northern Wolffish and Spotted Wolffish, and Management Plan for Atlantic Wolffish in Canada [Final]

9. Anticipated Challenges

The following have been identified as possible challenges to successful realization of the goals and objectives put forward in this document:

  • Gaining a more comprehensive understanding of wolffish life history;
  • Identifying environmental effects;
  • Identifying, conserving and protecting wolffish habitats;
  • Quantifying spatial and temporal capture of wolffish, by species, by fishery gear;
  • Evaluating the potential effects of fishing gears, particularly trawls and dredges on wolffish habitat;
  • Developing mechanisms for engaging stakeholder support;
  • Implementing fishery regulatory changes and their potential impact on traditional fisheries and subsequent costs to harvesters and other stakeholders;
  • Obtaining the financial resources required for timely implementation of all aspects of the recovery initiative;
  • Evaluating potential effects of other ocean resource activities; and
  • Establishing inter-jurisdictional cooperation and collaboration.

10. Biological and Technical Feasibility of Recovery

Natural history strategies such as relatively slow growth, nesting habits (A. lupus), limited dispersal in conjunction with potential human induced factors and changing environmental limitations have the potential to curtail the recovery ability for wolffish species. As such, research needs to be undertaken to define the relationship between wolffish and their environment. However, assuming that anthropogenic threats can be identified and mitigated through implementation of this Recovery Strategy and Management Plan, recovery is consider feasible based on the following criteria:

  • Individuals capable of reproduction are currently available to improve the population abundance;
  • Based on current knowledge of habitat requirements, sufficient suitable habitat is currently available to support these species;
  • Significant anthropogenic threats to these species, as described in this document, may be mitigated through recovery actions; and
  • Necessary recovery techniques to address these significant anthropogenic threats do exist and have been demonstrated to be effective.

Biological and technical feasibility of these species may also be influenced by unanticipated environmental affects that could unpredictably alter the course of recovery.

11. Recommended Scale for Recovery

The Recovery Team chose to incorporate the three wolffish species into a single “multi-species” Recovery Strategy and Management Plan because of their similar distribution, life history, ecology and taxonomically close relationship. One document inclusive of both threatened species, as well as the special concern species, was believed to be the most efficient and least repetitive approach for implementation.

Currently, release of the two threatened wolffish species in a manner that will maximize likelihood of survival is a fisheries licence requirement. As well, various moratoria on groundfish put in place during the 1990s and current fisheries closures leading to decreased effort contributes to recovery. Reducing directed groundfish fisheries has indirectly protected wolffish, a primary source of incidental bycatch of all three species.

In all DFO Regions where wolffish are present, the Recovery Team recommends that the scale of recovery effort incorporate an ecosystem approach and that it be implemented in parallel with future conservation objectives of fisheries management and other industrial activities.

Due to the distribution of wolffish, recovery must be considered at both national and international scales. Not only do non-Canadian vessels capture wolffish outside and inside (in the past) Canadian waters, but large concentrations of wolffish in international waters adjacent to Canadian waters are potentially influential in the state of wolffish populations in Canadian waters.