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Recovery Strategy for the Copper Redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) in Canada

Species at Risk Act recovery strategy series, recovery strategy for the copper redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) in Canada.

Species at Risk Act
Recovery strategy series

Copper redhorse

2012

Recommended citation:

DFO. 2012. Recovery Strategy for the Copper Redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. xi+60 pp.

Additional copies:

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry.

Cover illustration:

Nathalie Vachon, Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune du Québec

Également disponible en français sous le titre « Programme de rétablissement du chevalier cuivré (Moxostoma hubbsi) au Canada »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 2012. All rights reserved.
ISBN 978-1-100-20792-6
Cat. no. En3-4/141-2012E-PDF

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Preface

The competent minister for the Copper Redhorse under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) is the minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Because this species makes use of the Vianney-Legendre fish ladder, the minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency (Parks Canada) is the competent minister for individuals located in the ladder. Section 37 of SARA requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. The Copper Redhorse was listed as endangered under SARA in December 2007. Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Quebec Region led the development of this recovery strategy in close collaboration with the Copper Redhorse Recovery Team. This strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41).

The successful recovery of the Copper Redhorse will depend on the commitment and cooperation of the many concerned parties who will participate in the implementation of the recommendations put forward in this strategy. Success will not depend solely on Fisheries and Oceans Canada or any one jurisdiction. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the ministers of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada invite all Canadians to join with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Parks Canada in supporting and implementing the strategy, for the good of the species and of Canadian society as a whole. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada are committed to supporting the implementation of the strategy, subject to the availability of resources and the various priorities regarding the conservation of species at risk. Other jurisdictions and agencies will participate in implementing the strategy according to their respective policies, allocated resources, priorities, and budgetary constraints.

The recovery goal, objectives and approaches identified in this document were developed based on the best available information and are subject to modification as new data become available. The ministers will issue a progress assessment report within five years.

One or several action plans presenting detailed descriptions of specific recovery measures required to ensure the conservation of the species will be added to the present strategy. Insofar as possible, the ministers will implement mechanisms to see that all Canadians directly interested in or affected by these measures will be consulted.

In 1987, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), initially designated the Copper Redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) as threatened; in November 2004 COSEWIC changed the designation to endangered. In December 2007, this species was listed as endangered in Schedule I of the Species at Risk Act. In 1999, it was designated threatened under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. The present recovery strategy was developed following three five-year intervention plans (1995, 1999, 2004) developed and implemented by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) and its partners.

The above-mentioned intervention plans resulted in the creation of an important partnership network bringing together various government departments and levels, non-governmental agencies, and Quebec, Canadian and American universities.

Acknowledgements

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Parks Canada Agency would like to thank the authors of this document, Andréanne Demers and Hugues Bouchard of DFO, and Nathalie Vachon, Pierre Dumont and Daniel Hatin of the MRNF. They are also grateful to all the members of the Recovery Team for their conscientious work in providing information, counsel and advice during the development of the recovery strategy. Thanks also go to Gilles Fortin of DFO and Lucie Veilleux of MRNF for their help with mapping.

And finally, DFO and Parks Canada would like to acknowledge the critical contribution of all those who have offered comments on this document.

Executive summary

The Copper Redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) is the only fish whose distribution is exclusively restricted to Quebec. This range is restricted even further to the St. Lawrence River and some of its tributaries. At the present time, the Richelieu River is the only body of water in which reproductive activity has been confirmed.

The Copper Redhorse population is in decline. Several threats to the recovery of the species have been identified: habitat degradation (sedimentation, degradation of riparian environment, eutrophication, organic pollution), construction of dams, contaminants, exotic or introduced species, recreational activities, commercial fishery, and low water levels. Certain biological characteristics of the Copper Redhorse such as the late age of sexual maturity, late spawning activities and specialized diet contribute to its vulnerability.

In November 2004, the Copper Redhorse population was designated endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In December 2007, the population was listed as endangered in Schedule I of the Species at Risk Act. In 1999, it was designated threatened under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species.

The goal of this recovery strategy is to attain a population of 4,000 mature individuals over a period of 20 years. Five objectives have been identified to reach this goal:

Objective 1. Improve habitat conditions necessary for all stages of the life cycle and for the survival and recovery of the Copper Redhorse by:

  1. protecting known key habitat zones and creating of supplementary habitat;
  2. improving water quality and habitat, in the Richelieu and St. Lawrence rivers watersheds, to ensure conditions suitable for normal reproduction and growth;
  3. maintaining connectivity between habitats used for the different stages of the life cycle.

Objective 2. Support the Copper Redhorse population through stocking until natural reproduction can ensure the long-term stability of the population.

Objective 3. Promote further research into the sub-adult component of the population (100–500 mm) to fill the gaps in our current knowledge of this stage of the Copper Redhorse life cycle.

Objective 4. Reduce the impact of anthropogenic pressures on the Copper Redhorse and its habitat.

Objective 5. Implement regular monitoring of the state of the population.

The general public and different organizations are increasingly interested in the Copper Redhorse. This recovery strategy aims to coordinate the various actions that must be taken to complete the work already accomplished to prevent the disappearance of this species which is endemic to Canada. It also includes the identification of the critical habitat of the species: grass bed inhabited by adult Copper Redhorse in the St. Lawrence River, the littoral area along the Richelieu River used by juveniles and for migration, and the rapids of the Chambly and Saint-Ours dams, used for spawning.

Recovery feasibility

Recovery of the Copper Redhorse is considered possible because it meets the four criteria of technical and biological recovery feasibility.

1. Individuals present within the natural habitat are capable of reproduction.

Though natural reproduction is limited and juveniles have seldom been sampled, many mature individual fish have been observed in the spawning grounds of the Richelieu River. Furthermore, the residual population continues to exhibit a high level of genetic heterogeneity.

2. Habitats are available to permit the growth and reproduction of the Copper Redhorse.

Although many aquatic grass beds have been degraded, the protection of available habitat, together with bank restoration and other measures for the improvement of water quality, will increase the quantity of available habitats for the Copper Redhorse and consequently the chances of its recovery.

3. Threats to the species and its habitat can be avoided or mitigated.

Several conservation and outreach measures have already been implemented and various projects can be undertaken to mitigate the threats facing this species. Agricultural practices can be modified to diminish the effects of fertilizers and pesticides, soil erosion and sedimentation. The treatment of wastewater can be improved to reduce the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment. Important Copper Redhorse distribution areas can be protected from disturbance caused by pleasure boaters and fishermen.

4. The techniques necessary for the recovery of the species are available.

A reproduction plan was implemented in 2004 and stocking in the Richelieu River of larvae and fry was carried out every year between 2004 and 2009, in order to increase recruitment and to rebuild an aging spawner stock. Other techniques, such as annual monitoring of young-of-the-year abundance and genetic characterization of spawners and fry, permit the systematic monitoring of the population and the evaluation of population and distribution objectives.

Introduction