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Terms of Reference

Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) of Western Silvery Minnow

Central and Arctic Regional Advisory Meeting

Lethbridge, Alberta
March 23-24, 2011

Chairperson: Kathleen Martin


In June 2003, the Western Silvery Minnow (Hybognathus argyritis) was added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as Threatened. A recovery strategy was finalized in February 2008. In April of that year the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) re-assessed the status of Western Silvery Minnow as Endangered. The reason for this designation is because this species is restricted to the Milk River in southern Alberta, a region characterized by drought conditions of increasing frequency and severity. Changes in flow regimes associated with the St. Mary’s diversion canal and proposed water storage projects have the potential to significantly affect the survival of the species. Rescue effect from U.S. populations is not possible.

In advance of making a listing decision about whether to up-list Western Silvery Minnow on Schedule 1 to Endangered, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science has been asked to undertake a Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA). DFO Science developed the RPA framework to provide the information and scientific advice required for the Department to meet various requirements of the SARA. The information in the RPA may be used to inform both scientific and socio-economic elements of the listing decision, as well as development of a recovery strategy and action plan, and to support decision-making with regards to the issuance of permits, agreements and related conditions, as per sections 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78 of SARA.  

This advisory meeting is being held to assess the recovery potential of Western Silvery Minnow. The resulting RPA Science Advisory Report (SAR) will summarize the historic and current understanding of the distribution, abundance and trend of this species, along with recovery targets and times to recovery while considering various management scenarios. The current state of knowledge about habitat requirements, threats to both habitat and Western Silvery Minnow, and measures to mitigate these impacts, will also be included in the SAR. At this stage in the SARA process for Western Silvery Minnow, the information in the RPA may be used to inform the listing decision, development of an action plan and to support decision-making with regards to SARA agreements and permits.


The intent of this meeting is to assess the recovery potential of Western Silvery Minnow using the RPA framework outlined in the Revised Protocol for Conducting Recovery Potential Assessments. The advice will be provided to the DFO Minister for her consideration in meeting various requirements of SARA including any listing decision for this species.

Expected Publications

The meeting will generate a proceedings report summarizing the deliberations of the participants. This will be published in the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Proceedings Series on the CSAS website. There will be CSAS Research Document(s) produced from the working paper(s) presented at the meeting. Advice from the meeting will be published in the form of a SAR.


Experts from DFO, provincial and U.S. state governments and academia have been invited to participate in this meeting.


Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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