The implementation of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), proclaimed in June 2003, begins with an assessment of a species’ risk of extinction by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). COSEWIC is a non-government scientific advisory body that has been established under Section 14 of SARA to perform species assessments which provide the scientific foundation for listing species under SARA. Therefore, an assessment initiates the regulatory process whereby the competent Minister must decide whether or not to accept COSEWIC’s assessment and add a species to Schedule 1 of SARA, which would result in legal protection for the species under the Act. If the species is already on Schedule 1 of SARA, the Minister may decide to keep the species on the list, reclassify it as per the COSEWIC assessment, or to remove it from the list (Section 27 of SARA).
Fraser River Sockeye is currently being assessed by COSEWIC. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), as a generator and archivist of information on marine species, is to provide COSEWIC with the best information available to ensure that an accurate assessment of the status of a species can be undertaken. Pre-COSEWIC reviews normally try to provide information for the categories: 1) Life history characteristics; 2) Review of designatable units; 3) Review the COSEWIC criteria (COSEWIC, 2010); 4) Describe the characteristics or elements of the species habitat to the extent possible, and threats to that habitat; 5) Describe, to the extent possible, whether the species has a residence as defined by SARA, 6) Threats; and, 7) Other. Currently there is extensive information published respecting items 1, 2, 4, and part of 3 (the COSEWIC criterion related to population trends and size). The intent of this review is to focus on item 5 and the remaining part of 3 (population distribution), as this information has not been peer reviewed or made publicly available to date.
Results of this Regional Advisory Process (RAP) will be made available to COSEWIC, the author(s) of the species status report, and the co-chairs of the applicable COSEWIC Species Specialist Subcommittee.
— Excerpt from the meeting Terms of Reference