24-25 March, 2010
Many of the science issues facing Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) are associated with significant knowledge gaps and uncertainties. This, however, does not relieve the department of the need to make decisions on these issues. Under these conditions, decisions must balance the risks and uncertainties while ensuring the sustainability of Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. Risk assessment is the process of estimating the risk presented by a hazard, in either qualitative or quantitative terms, to aquatic ecosystems, fisheries resources, fish habitat and aquaculture that DFO is mandated to manage and protect. DFO currently faces hazards from aquatic invasive species (AIS), climate change, and fish habitat alteration, with the potential for any or all of these hazards to impact species at risk (SAR), biodiversity, and aquaculture or fisheries resources. AIS are now considered one of the lead threats to native biodiversity (Sala et al. 2000, Dextrase and Mandrak 2006).
The National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms identifies risk assessment as central to the process of assessing proposals to move aquatic organisms. The Canadian Action Plan to Address the Threat of Aquatic Invasive Species identifies risk assessment as one of the implementation strategies to deal with the threat of AIS. By forming the Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Risk Assessment (CEARA), DFO has taken the first steps toward developing the necessary expertise in risk assessment across the country, building on expertise developed in Burlington at the Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. To this end, one of the mandates and objectives of CEARA is to coordinate and advise on national biological risk assessments conducted on priority aquatic invasive species of concern. One of the risk assessment projects undertaken in 2009 has been to assess the biological risk posed by New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in Canada. This species could pose a threat to freshwater and brackish ecosystems and resources. A risk assessment has been drafted for New Zealand mud snail and the purpose of this peer review meeting is to gather experts on this species, invasive invertebrate species, gastropods or risk assessment to discuss, and provide comments on, the draft risk assessment in a face-to-face forum.
The meeting will generate a proceedings report summarizing the discussion and decisions of the participants. This will be published as part of the CSAS Proceedings Series. The finalized risk assessment for the New Zealand mud snail will be documented as science advice via the CSAS Science Advisory Report Series.
Dextrase, A. and N.E. Mandrak. 2006. Impacts of invasive alien species on freshwater fauna at risk in Canada. Biological Invasions 8: 13-24.
Sala, O. and 18 others. 2000. Biodiversity-global diversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287: 1770-1774.