Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus nerka
Other/Previous Names: Sockeye Salmon (Sakinaw Lake population)
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: British Columbia, Pacific Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2016
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The status report evaluates the distinct population of Sockeye Salmon that inhabits Sakinaw Lake, British Columbia (henceforth called Sakinaw Sockeye). Protein electrophoresis and molecular DNA analyses indicate that Sakinaw Sockeye are genetically distinct and substantially reproductively isolated from other British Columbia (BC) Sockeye Salmon populations. Sakinaw Sockeye possess a suite of life history characteristics including early, but protracted, timing of river-entry, extended lake residency prior to spawning, small body size, low fecundity and large smolt size, supporting their evolutionary distinctiveness from other sockeye populations and consideration as a designatable unit (DU).
On February 10, 2006, COSEWIC received a request for an emergency assessment of the Sakinaw Lake population of sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka. This request followed two previous assessments of this population by COSEWIC. Both assessment resulted in a status of ‘Endangered’, but the population was not listed under SARA.
This population experienced a very large decline in the 1980s and 1990s because of low ocean survival and over-fishing. Brood stock from Sakinaw Lake were maintained in a captive-breeding program that produced fry and smolts released into the lake beginning in 2000. Despite these introductions, almost no adults returned to the lake in 2006-2009. Smolts from the captive-breeding program continued to be introduced and adults returned to the lake in 2010 through 2014. Some of these fish spawned successfully on historical spawning beaches, demonstrating that the program was having some success in re-establishing the population. However, the number of wild-hatched fish is very small. Threats from development around the lake, low ocean survival, and the fishery continue.
A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.
This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, having considered the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, made pursuant to subsection 29(1) of the Species at Risk Act, and social, economic and other factors, hereby declines to amend Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act to list the sockeye salmon, Sakinaw Lake population, as an endangered species.
Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 25 wildlife species; of these, the majority (68%) were re-assessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 45 species assessed, seven were assigned a status of Not at Risk (two re-assessments and five new assessments). To date, and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 724 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 320 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 209 Special Concern, and 23 Extirpated (i.e., no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 15 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 54 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 177 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.
Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add any or all of the following 10 aquatic species to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The species include: Blue Whale, Sei Whale, Humpback Whale, Enos Lake Stickleback, Speckled Dace, Salish Sucker, Cultus Lake Sockeye, Interior Fraser Coho, Sakinaw Lake Sockeye, and Bocaccio. Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important.
This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding the above mentioned 10 species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).