Science Advisory Report 2005/054
A Framework for Developing Science Advice on Recovery Targets for Aquatic Species in the Context of the Species At Risk Act
- The “precautionary framework” currently being finalized for fisheries management was considered suitable as the starting point for recovery of species at risk as well. The framework has three zones for a population: healthy, cautious, and critical.
- There are both strengths and weaknesses to placing a biologically-based recovery target at either the critical-cautious boundary, or at the cautious-healthy boundary. There is at present no compelling science argument pointing definitively to one position or the other, or any specific position between them.
- Recovery plans which aim to increase biomass or abundance to the cautious-healthy boundary are expected to result in stocks not assessed as Threatened or Endangered by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), whereas recovery plans which only aim to increase a population to the critical-cautious boundary may find that COSEWIC assessments still conclude that the population is at unacceptable risk of extinction in the medium term.
- Sixteen biological attributes were reviewed for each of fifteen case histories, with regard to their usefulness as components of recovery descriptions and recovery plans. Direct measures of Abundance and Total Range Occupied emerged as the preferred biological traits to use in specifying recovery targets and focusing recovery efforts.
- Several other traits were considered to be valuable supplementary features to consider in recovery targets and recovery plans. There are circumstances where supplementary traits may be as important as direct measures of abundance and range.
- A reasonable suite of attributes to include in a description of recovery, and address in recovery plans, would be an abundance goal in the context of the historical population size, a population growth rate or level of surplus production, an age composition, and an abundance-weighted description of range. This list comprises a useful starting point for case-specific discussions by recovery planning teams, and scientists supporting those teams.
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