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2013 Assessment

January, 2013

A pre-assessment of the British Columbia commercial salmon fisheries was conducted by Scientific Certification Systems in April 2001.  The BC chum fisheries entered the full MSC assessment process in January 2008, and the 2013 Public Certification Report was released on January 7, 2013. The report identified three issues in the ISC Unit of Certification that required special attention:

  1. Establishment of limit and target reference points – Limit and target reference points are useful for setting escapement goals/harvest levels and determining when stocks are depleted, but formal reference points have yet to be established for these fisheries.
  2. Limited monitoring of escapements – A number of weak stocks in this certification unit (Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound, Sunshine Coast) do not have their escapements monitored. In addition, the number and frequency of stream surveys has generally been declining due to budgetary limitations.
  3. Recovery plans for depleted target and non-target stocks– Although fisheries are reduced when escapements are low, the lack of a specific management strategy for depleted stocks may hinder their recovery. Recovery plans therefore need to be developed and implemented.

For this unit, there were a total of 12 conditions raised against 11 performance indicators, which the Client planned to address through an action plan that was approved by the assessment team.

Condition 1-1: Evaluate catch monitoring programs and estimate catches of target and non-target stocks.

The objective is to evaluate the reliability of catch estimates derived from the catch monitoring program.

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The Client or management agency (DFO) will describe the rationale for the monitoring program and demonstrate its adequacy for meeting management needs.  The reliability of catch estimates from the monitoring programs will also be evaluated periodically, at least every 5 years. A framework for improving catch monitoring and reporting will be developed using DFO’s Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in Pacific Fisheries.

Update:

None.

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 1-3: Evaluate monitoring of fish sizes and ages in catches and escapements.

The Client or DFO will justify methods used to monitor fish body sizes and ages in catches and escapements.

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The current monitoring program involves sampling fish for size and age in test fisheries, the commercial harvest, escapement programs, and hatcheries. Sampling details and scientific justification for the methods should be provided.

Update:

None.

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started

Condition 1-4: Establish limit reference points.

The objective is to establish limit reference points (LRPs) or lower benchmarks for all conservation units (CUs) using a scientific process.

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LRPs can be used to assess stock status and set harvest guidelines. The process will be peer-reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) to ensure that there is scientific agreement on the selected LRPs.

Update:

None.

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 1-5: Establish target reference points.

The objective is to establish target reference points (TRPs) or upper benchmarks for all conservation units (CUs) using a scientific process.

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TRPs can be used to assess stock status and set harvest guidelines. The process will be peer-reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) to ensure that there is scientific agreement on the selected TRPs.

Update:

None

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 1-7: Review status of each target stock and ensure that stocks are not depleted.

The objective is to assess target stocks to ensure that they are not depleted and are above appropriate limit reference points (LRPs).

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The Client or management agency (DFO) must attain general agreement that the methods used to estimate escapements and exploitation rates for all target stocks are scientifically defensible. The status of each target stock will also be reviewed, and exploitation rates will be estimated for any stocks approaching their LRPs. DFO will report any actions taken to reduce harvest on stocks that are at risk of depletion and demonstrate that the actions are having an effect (i.e., showing that only one of five escapements for the most recent 5 consecutive years was near or below the LRP).

Update:

None

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started

Condition 2-1: Obtain reliable estimates of non-target species bycatch.

The objective is to obtain reliable bycatch estimates for non-target species to help evaluate fishery impacts on these species.

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Although some programs are in place to estimate the numbers of non-target fish encountered (reports of releases, test fisheries), these estimates are considered unreliable since they are not verified or fishery-independent. In particular, the Fraser chum fisheries lack reliable bycatch estimates for steelhead and sturgeon. To satisfy this condition, DFO will develop a program to estimate fishery impacts of Fraser River salmon fisheries on steelhead and sturgeon, potentially using simulation modeling, expansion of test fisheries, and census or observer data.

Update:

Although not explicitly mentioned in the assessment, there are increasing concerns about post-release mortality of bycatch discards in BC salmon fisheries. For the purposes of management, it is important to consider both exploitation rates and discard mortality when assessing fishery impacts on bycatch species.

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Timeline: 
May 2013 (due at first surveillance audit)
Priority: 
Medium
Status: 
Not started

Condition 2-2: Develop recovery plans for all depleted non-target stocks.

The objective is to minimize fishery impacts on depleted non-target stocks and aid their recovery.

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Specifically, DFO will define limit and target reference points (LRPs and TRPs) for non-target stocks and monitor their status. Recovery plans will then be developed and implemented for stocks that are below their LRPs. These plans will include stated objectives and a timeline for rebuilding, and they will also demonstrate how fisheries management will help meet the objectives. For example, exploitation rates on the depleted stocks must be low enough to facilitate recovery. Performance of the recovery measures will be reviewed annually.

Update:

None

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started

Condition 3-1: Define management objectives.

The goal is to establish management objectives such as escapement goals and maximum harvest rates that will facilitate effective and sustainable fisheries management.

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Development of these objectives is consistent with some of the goals in the Wild Salmon Policy, especially with regards to defining lower and upper benchmarks for all CUs.

Update:

None

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started

Condition 3-2: Define management objectives that will estimate non-target species bycatch.

The objective is to obtain scientifically defensible estimates of non-target species bycatch annually.

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This condition is specific to the Fraser River certification unit due to the lack of reliable bycatch estimates for steelhead and sturgeon. As described under Condition 2-1, DFO will develop a program to estimate fishery impacts of Fraser River salmon fisheries on steelhead and sturgeon, potentially using simulation modeling, expansion of test fisheries, and census or observer data.

Update:

Although not explicitly mentioned in the assessment, there are increasing concerns about post-release mortality of bycatch discards in BC salmon fisheries. For the purposes of management, it is important to consider both exploitation rates and discard mortality when assessing fishery impacts on bycatch species.

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Timeline: 
May 2013 (due at first surveillance audit)
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Not started

Condition 3-3: Develop a comprehensive research plan.

The objective is to develop a research plan that addresses fishery impacts on all affected species and the ecosystem, in addition to socioeconomic issues that result from management decisions.

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The plan should be responsive to changes in the fishery and must include an evaluation of alternative management approaches for reducing bycatch, or determination of the survival rate of discarded non-target species for non-retention fisheries.

Update:

None

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
Medium
Status: 
Not started

Condition 3-4: Conduct an external review of the fishery management system.

The objective is to complete an external performance review of the fisheries’ management.

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There also needs to be a commitment to conduct similar reviews at least once every five years. Results of the first external review will be provided by the second surveillance audit. DFO conducts reviews on an annual basis through their Integrated Harvest Planning Committee (IHPC), which includes representatives from First Nations and commercial, recreational, and environmental organizations. However, these reviews are not external, third-party scientific reviews.

Update:

This condition was partially met in October 2012, when Mr. Justice Cohen released his final report into his three-year Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. While focused on Fraser sockeye, the final report contains an extensive review of the principles, policies, procedures and practices of management of all salmon species in British Columbia. The Commission’s final report served as one external review, but a commitment to conducting regular external reviews is still needed. The Client should also be prepared to address issues that are highlighted in the reviews.  

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Timeline: 
September 2014 (due at second surveillance audit)
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
On track
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 3-5: Obtain cooperation of the fishing industry and other relevant stakeholders for estimating non-target species bycatch.

The objective is to obtain more reliable bycatch estimates for steelhead and sturgeon in the Fraser River chum salmon fishery.

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As described under Condition 2-1, DFO will develop a program to estimate fishery impacts of Fraser River salmon fisheries on steelhead and sturgeon, and cooperation of fishers will be useful for data collection and improvement of bycatch estimates.

Update:

Although not explicitly mentioned in the assessment, there are increasing concerns about post-release mortality of bycatch discards in BC salmon fisheries. For the purposes of management, it is important to consider both exploitation rates and discard mortality when assessing fishery impacts on bycatch species.

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Timeline: 
May 2013 (due at first surveillance audit)
Priority: 
Medium
Status: 
Not started
Relevant Performance Indicator: 
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