Terms of Reference
Screening-Level Risk Assessment Prioritization Protocol for Aquatic Non-Indigenous Species
National Advisory Meeting, National Capital Region
November 22-24, 2011
Chairperson: Tom Therriault
To be determined
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) aquatic invasive species program has been tasked by both the office of the Auditor General and an internal evaluation to establish a protocol that would provide a scientifically defensible and relatively quick way of screening and prioritizing aquatic non-indigenous species (NIS). The national ranking of aquatic NIS, based on the biological risk they pose to Canadian aquatic ecosystems, is necessary to prioritise the allocation of funds and other resources for national and regional aquatic NIS activities.
As a result, DFO’s Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Risk Assessment (CEARA) undertook the development of a screening-level risk assessment prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS. This protocol will allow the ranking of aquatic NIS for national priorities. As well, it will be used as a biological screening tool for aquatic NIS to determine (in a short time frame) if a more detailed-level risk assessment or a risk management evaluation is required based on existing information.
DFO’s Legislative and Regulatory Affairs (LRA), also a client for this process, has requested science advice to support the development of a national regulatory proposal for addressing aquatic NIS. Specifically, they have requested to include in the regulatory proposal: 1) a protocol to prioritise aquatic NIS; and, 2) a list of high risk aquatic NIS including those NIS already present in Canada whose transport into “non-infected” areas in Canada should be limited.
A national Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) science advisory process will be held to provide science advice on the screening-level risk assessment (SLRA) prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS. This process will consist of two peer-review meetings. For Part 1, participants will examine the methodological review section of the protocol and will develop the framework for the screening-level risk assessment and prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS. Part 1 will be held in Montreal, Québec on November 22-24, 2011. Part 2 will review the screening-level risk assessment and prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS and will provide a list of high risk NIS.
Part 1- Peer-review of the methodological review
There will be 2 (+) working papers for Part 1 of this process.
A first background working paper (WP1) reviews and evaluates available methodologies considered in the development of the screening-level risk assessment (SLRA) prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS. A variety of rapid biological risk assessment (RA) protocols were evaluted and, based on these assesments, the Alberta Risk Assessment Tool (RAT) was identified as the protocol that best serves the needs of DFO.
The rapid biological risk assessment (RA) protocols reviewed in WP1 will be made available to participants as background documents.
The second working paper (WP2) presents a screening-level risk assessment (SLRA) prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS, which is largely based on the Alberta RAT.
Part 2- Peer-review SLRA prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS
There will be 1 working paper and 1 research paper for Part 2 of this process.
The first working paper for Part 2 will be a modified version of Part 1’s WP2. The working paper will incorporate the recommendations made during the Part 1 meeting and the inter-sessional work conducted on the protocol. This working paper will present an updated SLRA prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS.
A research paper will evaluate the results of biological risk assessments on a pre-determined list of species using the SLRA prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS. This paper will be used during the meeting to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and utility of the protocol. The paper will also list sources for aquatic NIS distributions in Canada.
Based on the working papers presented at the meeting, meeting participants will be asked to fulfill the following objectives:
- Review criteria and methodology used to evaluate the RA protocols considered in the WP1
- Develop the framework for a screening-level risk assessment (SLRA) prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS which best satisfies DFO’s needs for prioritizing and screening a wide array of NIS in Canada, by:
- Evaluating the selection of the Alberta RAT as the basis for DFO’s SLRA prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS (WP1), and subsequently;
- Based on major gaps and weaknesses in this protocol, as identified by participants at the meeting, inputting alternative paths that will allow the tool to test a wide array of NIS including marine and freshwater fishes, and invertebrates.
At this Part 1 meeting participants are to agree on the protocol’s fundamental properties such as (but not limited to): structure, order/type of questions, guidance text, scoring/weighting and establishing thresholds. However, the actual testing of the proposed framework will be conducted inter-sessionally and discussed at the Part 2 meeting.
- Develop an evaluation method and list of aquatic NIS to use in testing and calibrating the SLRA prioritization protocol(s) inter-sessionally (prior to the Part 2 meeting).
- Discuss and recommend, for the purposes of the Regulatory Proposal, how to define the geographical boundaries / coordinates of the distribution of aquatic NIS already present in Canada whose transport into non-invaded areas in Canada should be limited.
Based on the working and research papers presented at the meeting, meeting participants will be asked to fulfill the following objectives:
- Finalise a national SLRA prioritization protocol for aquatic NIS for assessing the risk and relative importance of known and future aquatic NIS.
- Identify what modifications, if any, need to be made to this protocol for its use in listing aquatic NIS within the regulatory proposal for addressing aquatic NIS.
- By applying this protocol, identify a preliminary list of high risk aquatic NIS not yet in Canada or already present in Canada whose transport into “non infected” areas in Canada should be limited, to include in the Regulatory Proposal.
- Identify, for the purposes of the Regulatory Proposal, sources of distributions of aquatic NIS in Canada whose transport into non-invaded areas in Canada should be limited.
Part 2 objectives subject to change based on results of Part 1 meeting.
- Science Advisory Report(s)
- Research Document(s)
This science advisory process will follow the CSAS National Science Advisory Process, and will include experts from DFO Science, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, and other sectors of the Department, as well as invited external participants (e.g. other government departments, provincial governments, academics) who can meaningfully contribute to the science review. The invited experts will be selected for objectivity and credibility among peers and will be balanced across the diverse perspectives.
Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.
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