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Research Document 2018/022

Information in support of a recovery potential assessment of Rainbow Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss (Athabasca River populations)

By Sawatzky, C.D.


In May 2014, a meeting of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recommended that Rainbow Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, (Athabasca River populations) be designated Endangered. The reason given for this designation is: “Quantitative sampling over the last two decades demonstrates that the majority of sites are declining in abundance with an estimate of >90% decline over three generations (15 years). Threats are assessed as severe due to habitat degradation associated with resource extraction and agricultural practices. Additionally, ongoing climatic change and associated altered thermal regimes and hydrology, habitat fragmentation, introgression from non-native Rainbow Trout, and fishing threaten the species. Potential impact of invasive Brook Trout is a concern” (COSEWIC 2014, p. iii). This was the first assessment of Rainbow Trout (Athabasca River populations) and it has not yet been listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) provides information and scientific advice needed to fulfill various requirements of the SARA, including informing both scientific and socioeconomic elements of the listing decision and permitting activities that would otherwise violate SARA prohibitions, and the development of recovery strategies. This Research Document describes the current state of knowledge of the biology, ecology, distribution, population trends, habitat requirements and threats to Rainbow Trout (Athabasca River populations). Mitigation measures and alternative activities related to identified threats, which can be used to protect the species, are also presented. The information contained in the RPA and this document may be used to inform the development of recovery documents and for assessing permits, agreements and related conditions, as per sections 73, 74, 75, 77, 78 and 83(4) of the SARA. It may also be used to prepare for the reporting requirements of SARA s.55. The scientific information also serves as advice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada regarding the listing of the species under the SARA and is used when analyzing the socio-economic impacts of adding the species to the list as well as during subsequent consultations, where applicable. This assessment considers the available scientific data pertaining to the recovery of Rainbow Trout (Athabasca River populations) in Alberta. The advice generated via this process will update and/or consolidate any existing advice regarding Rainbow Trout (Athabasca River populations).

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