Species Profile

Pygmy Whitefish Great Lakes - Upper St. Lawrence populations

Scientific Name: Prosopium coulterii
Other/Previous Names: Pygmy Whitefish (Great Lakes - Western St. Lawrence populations)
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2016
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A2be+4be
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This small-bodied freshwater fish has experienced dramatic declines in abundance over the last several decades, with an overall estimated decline of 48% since 2000. The continued presence of invasive fishes and recovery of native predatory fishes may threaten or limit recovery, respectively.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2016.
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd):

No schedule - No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.



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.

3 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Pygmy Whitefish Prosopium coulterii in Canada (2017-10-24)

    The Pygmy Whitefish (Prosopium coulterii) is the smallest species within the whitefishes with a maximum size of approximately 150 mm total length (TL) for the “regular” form and up to 260 mm TL for the “giant” form. It is typically brownish green along the back with silvery sides and a white belly. In cross-section the depth of the body is less than twice its width, and the eye is relatively large; its diameter is larger than the snout length. Except in the largest individuals, there are 7 to 14 dark patches along their side and 12 to 14 along their back. The Pygmy Whitefish is a glacial relict with genetically distinct populations originating from different refugia (DU1, Beringia refugium, and DUs 2-7, Pacific and Mississippi refugia).

Response Statements

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2016 to 2017 (2017-10-24)

    Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 40 wildlife species; of these, the majority (78 %) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 73 species assessed 11 were assigned the status of Not at Risk (8 re-assessments and 3 new assessments). To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 735 wildlife species in various risk categories including 321 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 219 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated (i.e. - no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition 16 species have been assessed as Extinct, 58 have been designated as Data Deficient and 186 were assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.
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