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Research Document - 2012/097

Developing a Screening-Level Risk Assessment Prioritization Protocol for Aquatic Non-Indigenous Species in Canada: Review of Existing Protocols

By E. Snyder, N.E. Mandrak, H. Niblock, and B. Cudmore


Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) mission is to deliver ‘sustainable aquatic ecosystems’ to the people of Canada. This objective is seriously compromised if aquatic invasive species (AIS) enter Canadian waters and cause ecosystem harm without preventative barriers in place to stop them. To focus DFO’s attention on species that pose the greatest potential ecological harm, biological risk assessment protocols are required. A protocol that allows screening and prioritization of non-indigenous species in a short time frame, is necessary to assess the multitude of NIS that are potential threats. A screening-level risk assessment (SLRA) prioritization protocol will provide DFO with a scientifically defensible and relatively quick means of prioritizing these NIS. This report provides an evaluation of 13 representative screening and prioritization RA protocols using standardized criteria for the determination of their conceptual, scientific, and pragmatic strengths and weaknesses. Based on this evaluation, the Alberta Risk Assessment and FISK scored the highest of the tools evaluated.  As FISK is specific to freshwater fishes, it is recommended that related protocols, MISK (marine fishes) and MI-ISK (marine invertebrates) be evaluated for marine species. Based on the results of these evaluations, (a) final protocol(s) should be selected for use by DFO as a national SLRA protocol for screening and prioritizing AIS.

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