Vol. 139, No. 2 -- January 26, 2005

Registration
SI/2005-2 January 26, 2005

SPECIES AT RISK ACT

Order Giving Notice of Decisions not to add Certain Species to the List of Endangered Species

P.C. 2005-5 January 12, 2005

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsections 27(1.1) and (1.2) of the Species at Risk Act(see footnote a) (the Act), hereby

(a) decides not to add the Cultus population (Oncorhynchus nerka) and Sakinaw population (Oncorhynchus nerka) of Pacific sockeye salmon, as well as the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), the Northwestern population of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) and the Western population of the wolverine (Gulo gulo) to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List) set out in Schedule 1 to the Act;

(b) refers the assessment for speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) back to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) for further information and consideration;

(c) approves that the Minister of the Environment include the statement attached as Annex 1 to the Order in the public registry (the public registry) established under section 120 of the Act setting out the reasons for not adding the Cultus population (Oncorhynchus nerka) and the Sakinaw population (Oncorhynchus nerka) of Pacific sockeye salmon to the List;

(d) approves that the Minister of the Environment include the statement attached as Annex 2 to the Order in the public registry setting out the reasons for not adding the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), the Northwestern population of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) and the Western population of the wolverine (Gulo gulo) to the List; and

(e) approves that the Minister of the Environment include the statement attached as Annex 3 to the Order in the public registry setting out the reasons for referring the assessment for speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) back to COSEWIC for further information and consideration.

ANNEX 1

STATEMENT SETTING OUT THE REASONS FOR NOT
ADDING THE CULTUS POPULATION (ONCORHYNCHUS NERKA) AND THE SAKINAW POPULATION
(ONCORHYNCHUS NERKA) OF PACIFIC SOCKEYE
SALMON TO THE LIST

Although the COSEWIC assessments for the Cultus and Sakinaw populations make it clear that those populations are at very low levels and are at risk of biological extinction, adding them to the List as "endangered" would lead to severe consequences for the south coast British Columbia (BC) sockeye salmon fishing sector and for the coastal communities, including first nations, who depend on salmon fishing. It would trigger automatic prohibitions on killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking those species, unless permits authorizing a person to engage in those activities could be issued by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans under the Act or the activities affecting the two populations are permitted by a recovery strategy, an action plan or a management plan and are also authorized under an Act of Parliament.

A financial analysis, informed through consultations with aboriginal organizations and various stakeholders, based on projections of the impact of listing, over the current four-year cycle (2004-2007), of BC Fraser River sockeye salmon was completed. The analysis shows that if those populations continue to decline, the gross value of the south coast BC sockeye fishing sector would be reduced by approximately $125 million over the current four-year cycle, as a result of the severe fishery restrictions required to reduce mortality on the Cultus and Sakinaw populations to a level that would give some probability of their survival or recovery, consistent with a listing under the Act. That reduction would be over and above the approximately $75 million reduction in gross value to the fishing sector that will be experienced as a result of current measures implemented by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to protect those sockeye salmon populations. The fishing sector includes the commercial and recreational industry as well as first nation's food, social and ceremonial fishing. Moreover, there would be consequent impacts on coastal communities who are dependent on the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery. Approximately 25% of commercial fishers are aboriginal people.

The consequences from listing could be so severe that, considering the restrictions necessary to protect those populations, there would likely be no marine commercial fishery on Fraser River sockeye salmon in three of those four years. In all four years, the food, social and ceremonial fishing requirements of many first nations who harvest in marine waters would likely not be achieved. After two years in the four-year cycle, the food, social and ceremonial fishing requirements of first nations in the Fraser River area below the Vedder River would likely not be met. Processors heavily dependant on sockeye salmon would also be negatively impacted. Those impacts on the south coast BC sockeye salmon fishery and the coastal communities would extend with lasting effects to future four-year cycles of Fraser River sockeye salmon.

ANNEX 2

STATEMENT SETTING OUT THE REASONS FOR NOT
ADDING THE POLAR BEAR (URSUS MARITIMUS), THE
NORTHWESTERN POPULATION OF THE GRIZZLY BEAR
(URSUS ARCTOS) AND THE WESTERN POPULATION OF
THE WOLVERINE (GULO GULO) TO THE LIST

With regard to the assessment process, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) feels that the status reports on which COSEWIC based their assessments of the species for special concern were based on criteria and processes in place before the Act came into force and that those reports do not satisfy the new requirements to incorporate the best available community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge. The NWMB also stated that consultations have not been sufficient. Those species are not being added to the List at this time in order to consult further with the NWMB so as to determine how its concerns can be addressed. The Minister may reconsider the matter after those consultations have been completed.

ANNEX 3

STATEMENT SETTING OUT THE REASONS FOR
REFERRING THE ASSESSMENT FOR SPECKLED DACE
(RHINICHTHYS OSCULUS) BACK TO COSEWIC FOR
FURTHER INFORMATION AND CONSIDERATION

The COSEWIC assessment of "endangered" may well be consistent with the fact that the speckled dace is a rare species with a very restricted distribution in Canada. However, there are several points in the COSEWIC status report that require better documentation, and the impact of a key threat mentioned in the COSEWIC status report has been reduced subsequent to the COSEWIC assessment. Accordingly, further information and consideration on the following points are required to clarify the biological basis for the assessment:

The COSEWIC's status report published on the public registry established under the Act indicates that a proposed dam project would "result in the loss of as much as 22% of the existing Canadian habitat" (page 28). However, the status report elsewhere indicates that the dam would flood either 2.5 km or 2.7 km of speckled dace habitat and that speckled dace are found at sites along 112 km of watersheds in southern British Columbia, which would indicate that the dam would impact around 2% of existing habitat rather than 22%. Clarification of the potential impact of the dam is required since the COSEWIC assessment summary published on the public registry refers to the "construction of a proposed dam" as a key factor in the assessment.

The COSEWIC's status report was completed in 2002. Since the status report and the assessment were completed, design changes have been made to the dam project, which would considerably reduce its impact on the upstream habitat of speckled dace. Specifically, the area flooded will be reduced from 2.5 km to 350 m. Since the dam project is identified as a key factor in the assessment, further consideration of whether this change in impact would affect the assessment is required.

Further consideration of whether the status report should be revised to better support the technical summary and the assessment summary is required. Specifically, the technical summary of the status report refers to an estimated decline of at least 10% per year for this species. Further information on the basis for this estimate would be essential to clearly document the conclusion and to ensure that the status report's information supports a decision on whether to list and to take subsequent recovery actions.

"Urban and industrial development" are referred to in the assessment summary as threats to the species but are not documented in the status report. Further information on this would help to clarify the basis for the assessment and to support any listing discussions.

In light of the above, further consideration should be given to whether the overall assessment of "endangered" is justified.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order.)

On January 15, 2004, the Minister of the Environment received the assessments of the status of 91 species from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). On April 21, 2004, the Governor in Council (GIC) acknowledged receipt of the assessments of 79 of those 91 species. Those assessments initiated a nine-month period for consultations regarding the listing of those species and the GIC decision on whether or not to add those species to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List) set out in Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (the Act) or to refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration. That nine-month period ends on January 21, 2005.

A proposed Order was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 23, 2004, recommending the listing of 76 of the 79 species assessed by COSEWIC.

The Order confirms the Governor in Council's decision not to add, under subsection 27(1.1) of the Act, to the List the Sakinaw and Cultus populations of Pacific sockeye salmon, the polar bear, the Northwestern population of the grizzly bear and the Western population of the wolverine and to refer the assessment for speckled dace back to COSEWIC for further information and consideration.

The decision not to add the Sakinaw and Cultus populations of Pacific sockeye salmon to the List and to refer the speckled dace back to COSEWIC for further information and consideration was made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, in consultation with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, taking into account the assessments provided by COSEWIC. The decision was informed by responses received during consultations with the Province of British Columbia, stakeholder groups and aboriginal peoples, and by comments received during the 30-day public consultation period following the pre-publication of the proposed Order.

The decision not to add the polar bear, the Northwestern population of the grizzly bear and the Western population of the wolverine at this time was made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment in order to further consult with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

The GIC also approves that the Minister of the Environment include statements in the public registry setting out the reasons, under subsection 27(1.2) of the Act, for the decision not to add those five species to the List and to refer the assessment of one species back to COSEWIC. Those reasons are set out in Annexes 1 to 3 to the Order and will be posted on the website of the public registry established under the Species at Risk Act(www.sararegistry.gc.ca).

Footnote a

S.C. 2002, c. 29