Species Profile

Paddlefish

Scientific Name: Polyodon spathula
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2019
COSEWIC Status: Extirpated
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This fish, once found in the Great Lakes, was never common in the Canadian portion of its range. The species has not been observed in Canadian waters since the early 1900s despite extensive sampling and being a large distinctive fish that is easily recognizable.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Disappeared from Canada in approximately 1913. Designated Extirpated in April 1987. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000, April 2008, and May 2019.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Extirpated
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

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.

Go to advanced search

Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Reasons for extirpation | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Paddlefish

Paddlefish Photo 1

Top

Description

The Paddlefish is named for its paddle-shaped snout; this fish has a large mouth. The Paddlefish measures up to 120 cm and weighs up to 67 kg.

Top

Distribution and Population

Paddlefish are still found in the Mississippi River drainage system, from Montana to Louisiana. In Canada, Paddlefish were once found in the Great Lakes region, but no individual of this species has been seen in Canada for the last 70 years.

Top

Habitat

In Canada, Paddlefish inhabited inshore areas of the Great Lakes and large tributary rivers. The habitat preferences of this fish vary according to seasons, and they depend on food supply and the rates of water flow. Paddlefish require access to large rivers to spawn.

Top

Biology

There is no information on the general biology of the populations of paddlefish which inhabited the Great Lakes; the information available is from the populations of the Mississippi River system. Paddlefish can live for up to 30 years. Males reach sexual maturity at about 7 years of age, while females reach sexual maturity between the ages of 10 and 12. Females spawn each 2 to 7 years. Paddlefish migrate over long distances, prefering reservoirs or lakes during the winter and large rivers during the spawning season.

Top

Reasons for extirpation

There are five main limiting factors which affect Paddlefish populations: the degradation or destruction of areas used for spawning; the construction of dams which block the movements of this species; a reduction of the amount of water in streams; industrial pollution; and, because this fish matures so slowly, over-harvesting, which can quickly deplete a population.

Top

Protection

Federal Protection

The Paddlefish is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

The federal Fisheries Act prohibits destruction of fish habitat.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

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

Top

Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

Top

Recovery Team

Ontario Freshwater Fish Recovery Team

  • Amy Boyko - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Phone: 905-336-6236  Fax: 905-336-6437  Send Email
  • Shawn Staton - Chair/Contact - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Phone: 905-336-4864  Fax: 905-336-6437  Send Email

Top

Documents

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.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Paddlefish (2008-11-26)

    This fish, once found in the Great Lakes, was apparently never common in the Canadian portion of its range. It has not been observed in Canadian waters since 1917 despite extensive sampling and the fact that such a distinctive fish would have been easily recognizable.  
  • Response Statement - Paddlefish (2020) (2020-01-07)

    This fish, once found in the Great Lakes, was never common in the Canadian portion of its range. The species has not been observed in Canadian waters since the early 1900s despite extensive sampling and being a large distinctive fish that is easily recognizable.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) in Canada (2008-02-27)

    This recovery strategy for paddlefish has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions described in the Preface. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its paddlefish recovery strategy as required by the Species at Risk Act. This recovery strategy also constitutes advice to other jurisdictions and organizations on the recovery approaches and objectives that are recommended to protect and recover the species. The recovery of paddlefish in Canada has been found to be not technically or biologically feasible at this time. Nevertheless, the species still may be the subject of recovery efforts targeted towards other species in the same geographic area or experiencing similar threats, may benefit from general conservation programs in the same geographic area, and will receive protection through SARA and other federal, and provincial or territorial, legislation, policies, and programs.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008-08-28)

    2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Permits and Related Agreements

Date modified: