The COSEWIC assessment of “endangered” may well be consistent with the fact that the speckled dace is a rare species with a very restricted distribution in Canada. However, there are several points in the COSEWIC status report that require better documentation, and the impact of a key threat mentioned in the COSEWIC status report has been reduced subsequent to the COSEWIC assessment. Accordingly, further information and consideration on the following points are required to clarify the biological basis for the assessment:
The COSEWIC’s status report published on the public registry established under the Act indicates that a proposed dam project would “result in the loss of as much as 22% of the existing Canadian habitat” (page 28). However, the status report elsewhere indicates that the dam would flood either 2.5 km or 2.7 km of speckled dace habitat and that speckled dace are found at sites along 112 km of watersheds in southern British Columbia, which would indicate that the dam would impact around 2% of existing habitat rather than 22%. Clarification of the potential impact of the dam is required since the COSEWIC assessment summary published on the public registry refers to the “construction of a proposed dam” as a key factor in the assessment.
The COSEWIC’s status report was completed in 2002. Since the status report and the assessment were completed, design changes have been made to the dam project, which would considerably reduce its impact on the upstream habitat of speckled dace. Specifically, the area flooded will be reduced from 2.5 km to 350 m. Since the dam project is identified as a key factor in the assessment, further consideration of whether this change in impact would affect the assessment is required.
Further consideration of whether the status report should be revised to better support the technical summary and the assessment summary is required. Specifically, the technical summary of the status report refers to an estimated decline of at least 10% per year for this species. Further information on the basis for this estimate would be essential to clearly document the conclusion and to ensure that the status report’s information supports a decision on whether to list and to take subsequent recovery actions.
“Urban and industrial development” are referred to in the assessment summary as threats to the species but are not documented in the status report. Further information on this would help to clarify the basis for the assessment and to support any listing discussions.
In light of the above, further consideration should be given to whether the overall assessment of “endangered” is justified.
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