Science Response 2017/014

Threat Assessment for Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), Northwest Atlantic Population

Context

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) (assessed as endangered, COSEWIC 2010) was recommended for addition to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on August 27, 2016 (Government of Canada 2016). If the decision is made to list the species under SARA, a proposed recovery strategy must be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry within one year of listing (SARA, s. 42[1]).

For aquatic species, SARA recovery strategies require the inclusion of a threat assessment based on Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO's) Guidance on Assessing Threats, Ecological Risk and Ecological Impacts for Species at Risk (DFO 2014a). Threat assessments inform species listing recommendations, recovery strategies, and action plans (DFO 2014a). Information on threats is needed to plan and prioritize recovery measures for the species, and to inform the regulatory and management decisions made by DFO regarding human activities that interact with the species. Threat assessments are normally completed as part of the Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) for the species (DFO 2014b). At the Loggerhead Sea Turtle RPA, threats were described briefly (DFO 2010a); however, a threat table for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle was not completed. Since that time, new threat assessment guidance has become available (DFO 2014a).

Loggerhead Sea Turtles found in Atlantic Canadian waters belong to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Designatable Unit (DU), which is referred to as the Northwest Atlantic Distinct Population Segment (DPS) in the United States (US) recovery documents. Because the US Recovery Plan for the Northwest Atlantic Population of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (NMFS-USFWS 2008a) forms the basis for much of this assessment, this report refers to the Loggerhead Sea Turtle population as the "Northwest Atlantic population".

This report identifies the Threat Risks (see Table 1 for definition of "Threat Risk") for Loggerhead Sea Turtles when they are in Atlantic Canadian waters and also throughout their entire range in the Northwest Atlantic. Assessing the Threat Risk within the entire range of the population provides context for the recovery of this species within Atlantic Canadian waters and allows for a comparison of threats in Atlantic Canada relative to threats occurring throughout the Northwest Atlantic.

This Science Response Report results from the Science Response Process of December 12, 2016, on the Threat Assessment for Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), Northwest Atlantic Population.

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