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Research Document - 2007/045

Assessing recovery potential: Long-term projections and their implications for socio-economic analysis

By Shelton, P.A., B. Best, A. Cass, C. Cyr, D. Duplisea, J. Gibson, M. Hammill, S. Khwaja, M.A. Koops, K.A. Martin, R. O’Boyle, J.C. Rice, A. Sinclair, K. Smedbol, D.P. Swain, L.A. Vélez-Espino, and C.C. Wood


Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) and associated socio-economic analysis are required to inform the decision on whether or not to list a species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). RPA should also provide the basis for the Recovery Team to develop a Recovery Strategy and Action Plan after listing. While DFO has considerable experience in providing short-term scientific advice in support of fisheries management, approaches constituting best scientific practice and standards for long-term advice in support of listing decisions and recovery planning are still developing. Biological processes are best captured in a life-history model. This model needs to deal with both observation error and process error. Uncertainty associated with process error expands rapidly in projections beyond three years and methods have to take this into account. Bayesian state-space approaches provide a way of incorporating both observation and process error in the analysis. In most cases management strategy evaluation (MSE) of performance relative to a simulation of the biological process, assessment process and management process (operating model) may have the greatest potential given difficulties associated with making long-term quantitative projections. This approach could be expanded to include socio-economic aspects. Scientific analysis can be completed as a first step and the results then passed to Policy and Economics to undertake socio-economic analysis. This two-step approach is considered to be less attractive than a fully integrated approach in which scientific and socio-economic analyses are undertaken and peer reviewed in a joint assessment. The current review was unable to fully develop the best-practice standard without further work. In order to make progress it is recommended that DFO management chose an upcoming high-profile RPA as a national case study to establish a best-practice standard for the preferred fully integrated biological/socio-economic approach that is described. The case study should include establishing independent socio-economic and scientific peer review, and public communication of expert advice on recovery potential and cost-benefit of alternative recovery options, independent of the political process of determining SARA listing.

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