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Current View
Salish Sea Species of Concern,
Proceedings of the
Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, October 25
27, 2011
Vancouver, BC
Species of Concern within the
Salish Sea: changes from 2002 to 2011
Joseph K. Gaydos
and Nicholas A. Brown
The SeaDoc Society, UC Davis Wildlife Health Center
Orcas Island Office,
Deer Harbor Road, Eastsound,
WA 98245
; *Presenting author; Correspondence
Species of concern are native species, sub
species or ecologically significant units that warrant special attention to
ensure their conservation.
The number of species of concern within an ecosystem can be used as a crude measure of
ecosystem health and it
illustrates where cross
jurisdiction work is needed to recover declining species. Within the
Salish Sea
four jurisdictions
assess which species require special initiatives to ensure protection and survival of the
the Province of British Colum
bia, the State of Washington, the Canadian Federal Government, and the
United States Federal Government. As of
1, 20
one or more of these jurisdictions listed 113 species of
concern. This is almost twice the 64 species identified on September 1,
2008 when this metric was last evaluated.
This represents new listings and also reflects an increase in the number of birds and mammals known to use the
Salish Sea for some part of their life history. Since 2008, 23 new additions were made to the list due
to a recent
listing by one or more jurisdiction and not because of an expanded understanding of species using the ecosystem.
Newly listed species include 5 fish species and
bird species. The addition of 23 newly listed species represents
the greatest j
ump in species of concern since this list was first established in 2002. This is good news in that it
signifies that declining species are getting much needed attention through the listing process, but it also reinforces a
downward trend in declining speci
es in the region. In light of projected increased population growth, on
habitat modifications and expected climate change, the number of species of concern for this ecosystem is likely to
increase if listing efforts remain consistent for all four jur
isdictions. Increased and improved bi
national efforts to
recover declining populations of species and recover this ecosystem are urgently needed to stop the insidious loss of
species and ecosystem decay.
Species of concern are native specie
s, sub
species or ecologically significant units that warrant special attention
ensure their conservation.
Within ecosystems spanning international boundaries and multiple jurisdictions, an
based list of species of
concern serves many function
It acts as a crude indicator of ecosystem health,
permits cross checking of species of concern between jurisdictions, suggests where more research is needed and
highlights where transboundary approaches could benefit species recovery (Gaydos and Gilardi
, 2003). Four
jurisdictions within the
16,925 square kilometer
Salish Sea
(Gaydos et al., 2008)
have processes for
assessing and listing species that require special initiatives to ensure protection and survival of the population
. These
the Province of British Columbia, the State of Washington, the Canadian Federal Government, and the
United States Federal Government. This work compiles
a list of
invertebrates, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals
that use the Salish Sea marine ecosystem
and are listed as species of concern by more or more jurisdiction. Also it
listings between jurisdictions and updates prior lists developed in 2002 (Gaydos and Gilardi, 2003)
(Brown and Gaydos, 2005)
, 2006 (Brown and Gaydos, 2007), and 2008
(Gaydos and Brown, 2009).
Species that use the Salish Sea
and were listed by one or more jurisdiction were included.
recent published list was used to identify birds and mammals that depend on the Salish Sea (Gaydos and Pearso
). Listed reptiles were included if the listing agency identified the Salish Sea as critical habitat for the species.
Fish and invertebrates were included if available listing data, published data or professional opinion indicated their
included the Salish Sea.
Listing status as of
1, 20
was used. Specifically, the processes for
listing and listing classifications within each jurisdiction are as follows:
British Columbia
In the Province of British Columbia, species are
d a risk of extinction.
Species are place
d on Red, Blue or
Yellow lists.
listed species are those that have been legally designated as Endangered or Threatened under the
provincial Wildlife Act, are extirpated, or are ca
ndidates for such designation.
listed species are those not
immediately threatened, but are of concern because of characteristics that make them particularly sensitive to huma
activities or natural events.
listed species are all species not incl
uded on the Red or Blue lists
For the
purpose of this study, Red and Blue
listed species are
considered species of concern.
When British Columbia ranks
Salish Sea Species of Concern,
Proceedings of the
Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, October 25
27, 2011
Vancouver, BC
species, each species is assigned a global rank (applies across its range), a national rank (for each nation within its
range, such
as Canada), and a sub
national rank (for each province). In British Columbia, the Conservation Data
Centre within the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management assigns the prov
incial rank.
These provinci
al ranks
are updated annually (
Within the marine ecosystem, British
Columbia currently only assesses mammals, birds, reptiles and fre
shwater fishes that also use
marine habitat
Important to this study, conspicuously absent are marine f
ishes and marine inver
All credible sources of
information concerning species distribution, abundance, trends, and threats are considered in provincially ranking
species in British Columbia
Washington State
In Washington State
species of concern are listed by the Wa
shington Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission)
under the provisions of Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 232
297 (Endangered, Threatened, and
Sensitive Wil
dlife Species Classification).
Listing occurs in much the same stepwise procedure as occurs
at the U.S.
federal level. Species can
be listed as either endangered (seriously threatened with extinction throughout all or a
significant portion of its range within the state), threatened (likely to become an endangered species within the
foreseeable f
uture throughout a significant portion of it range within the state) or sensitive (vulnerable or declining
and likely to become endangered or threatened in a significant portion of its range within the state).
Listing can be
initiated in one of three ways:
(1) the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) initiates a species
status review; (2) the WDFW receives a petition from a citizen (at which point the agency has 60 days to either
initiate the classification process or deny the petition, based o
n the best available scientific data); or (3) the
Commission requests the WDFW to review a species of concern. Listings are based solely on the biological status of
the species in the wild, as indicated by the preponderance
of scientific data available.
en the listing process is
initiated, the WDFW publishes a public notice in the Washington State Register and calls for scientific information
relevant to the species’
WDFW prepares a draft species status report, which reviews relevant
ion on the status of the species in Washington, addresses factors affecting its status, and makes a
preliminary listing recommendation
The public and the scientific community is given 90 days to review and
comment on the draft status report and listing re
commendation, and the WDFW can hold one or more public
meetings du
ring the public review period.
At the close o
f the public comment period,
WDFW addresses comments,
completes the final status report and listing recommendation and
submits them to the Commis
The final species
status report, agency classification recommendation, and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) documents are
made available to the public at least 30 days prior to the Commission
meeting. Once a species is listed,
writes and im
plements a recovery plan for threatened or endangered species, or a manageme
nt plan for sensitive
A review of the species’ status is conducted by the WDFW at least once every five years. The WDFW
maintains a list of Candidate species, which are th
ose species that will be reviewed for possible listing as
endangered, threatened, or sensitive.
Important to this study, m
arine invertebrates and fishes can only receive
candidate status in Washington State
(WAC) 232
does not permit State listing
of marine invertebrates and
. Species listed as candidates, sensitive, threatened or endangered are included in this study
In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) creates a federal
of species at risk using an international ranking system adapted from the World Conservation Union in Switzerland.
COSEWIC is composed of government and non
government members, members from academic institutions, and
one member with expertise in Aborigina
l traditional knowledge. Species designations are made using
formal status
report review process. Experts are commissioned to write status reports on the biology, population status, range, and
possible threats facing the species or subspecies in question
using the best available scientific, community, and
Aboriginal traditional knowledge. COSEWIC meets at least once annually to consider new and updated status
reports and
to make status determinations.
If deemed necessary and appropriate, emergency listing
can be made
ahead of COSEWIC's regular general meeting and decisions made are later rati
fied based upon a full report.
listed by COSEWIC, risk categories for species include extinct (a species that no longer exists), extirpated (no
longer exists in the
wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere), endangered (facing imminent extinction or extirpation),
threatened (likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed), special concern (characteristics make
species particularly sensitive to human act
ivities or natural events), not at risk, or data deficient (insufficient
information t
o support status designation).
Species that are suspected of being at some risk of extinction or
extirpation, but have not yet been reviewed by COSEWIC are placed on a Ca
ndidate List and as time and resources
permit, COSEWIC commission’s status reports for these species so that a
n assessment can be undertaken.