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2013 Annual Review

January, 2014

The audit team conducted the second annual surveillance site visit on October 7-11, 2013, and published the surveillance report in January 2014. For the Fraser Unit of Certification, 8 conditions were closed and 6 remained open and behind schedule.

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

The objective is to obtain accurate catch estimates of target and non-target species for all stocks.

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DFO will describe catch monitoring programs and demonstrate their 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 Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative, and simulation models will be used to evaluate bycatch harvest impacts.

Update:

DFO provided bycatch estimates for non-target species in the Fraser certification unit which showed that steelhead and sturgeon are not frequently encountered. Bycatch estimates are reviewed annually. They also described the bycatch monitoring program, which includes third-party fishery observers and monitoring of landed catches. The audit team deemed these actions adequate for closing the condition.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 1-2: Describe escapement monitoring programs and estimate spawning escapements for each stock unit.

The objective is to estimate the status of target stocks by monitoring escapements, and also to estimate abundances of non-target species using data collected independently of the fishery.

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DFO will describe catch monitoring programs and demonstrate their adequacy for meeting management needs. A report on escapement monitoring programs will be made available for review within 2 years.

Update:

DFO provided the current draft of their Salmon Stock Assessment Framework and business plan, which describes how CU stock status will be evaluated. However, the framework does not describe the rationale for the current escapement monitoring program or demonstrate its adequacy for meeting the management needs of the fishery. The monitoring program needs to be reviewed by the Canadian Scientific Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) to close this condition. The review must show that escapement estimates are available for every target stock, abundances of non-target species are monitored, and escapement indicators are used to regulate the fishery during the fishing season.  

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule

Condition 1-3: Evaluate monitoring of catches and escapements.

The Client or DFO will conduct scientific analysis to justify methods used to monitor stock compositions and fish body sizes in catches and escapements.

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The current monitoring program involves test fisheries and sampling at hatcheries. The test fisheries sample populations moving through the Skeena River, Johnstone Strait, and the Fraser River, collecting data on abundance, stock composition, and size distribution. Direct sampling of fish at hatcheries provides trends in size distribution over time. The scientific basis of these methods will be provided, and data on fish weights will be used to assess trends in the size of pinks salmon harvested in each fishery.

Update:

DFO has implemented a pilot program for monitoring fish weights in the commercial fisheries, where fishers must report both the total weight and the total number of fish when selling their catches. These data will be sufficient for assessing trends in pink salmon salmon size, and thus the condition was closed.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed

Condition 1-4: Establish limit reference points through a scientific process.

The objective is to set harvest guidelines by estimating limit reference points (LRPs) for all CUs using a scientific process.

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The management agency (DFO) sets management escapement goals (MEGs) that are used to determine LRPs, but these MEGs are not obtained through formal analysis. CUs were defined in 2008, and a general methodology for determining reference points was prepared in 2009. These methods will be used to define LRPs with potential participation from First Nations, recreational and commercial fishers, and non-governmental organizations.

Update:

The fishery management plan describes a benchmark of 6 million pink salmon for the Fraser CU, below which no fisheries are supposed to target Fraser pink salmon. Although this is not a formal LRP, there is no evidence of scientific controversy regarding this benchmark. Thus the audit team closed this condition. Formal LRPs are still supposed to be established and reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 1-5: Establish target reference points through a scientific process.

The objective is to set harvest guidelines by estimating target reference points (TRPs) for all CUs using a scientific process.

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The management agency (DFO) sets management escapement goals (MEGs) that are used to determine TRPs, but these MEGs are not obtained through formal analysis. CUs were defined in 2008, and a general methodology for determining reference points was prepared in 2009. These methods will be used to define TRPs with potential participation from First Nations, recreational and commercial fishers, and non-governmental organizations.

Update:

The fishery management plan describes a benchmark of 6 million pink salmon for the Fraser CU, above which fisheries on Fraser pink salmon are permitted. Although this is not a formal TRP, there is no evidence of scientific controversy regarding this benchmark. Thus the audit team closed this condition. Formal TRPs are still supposed to be established and reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 1-6: Develop recovery plans for depleted stocks.

To obtain certification, a fishery should not hinder recovery of any depleted stocks.

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Under the Wild Salmon Policy, plans will be developed and implemented to facilitate recovery of depleted stocks to the management escapement goal (MEG) within three reproductive cycles. The stocks must recover to a specified level (150% of the defined limit reference point) before the fishery can target the depleted stocks. A recovery plan template will be developed and submitted for review and approval. Specifically, DFO will define lower and upper benchmarks for target and non-target stocks. They will then develop integrated management plans for each fishery that define precautionary harvest strategies and decision rules, rebuilding strategies, and performance measures for salmon conservation. The performance of the fishery and its management system will be reviewed against the performance measures every year.

Update:

There is no evidence that pink salmon recovery plans are being developed, even though some CUs have been near or below lower benchmarks in recent years. In addition, LRPs have not been established and reviewed for all CUs. The Wild Salmon Policy includes an approach for rebuilding salmon stocks but not a recovery plan template. To satisfy this condition, the Client must provide a recovery plan template, demonstrate that stock status has been assessed against LRPs or lower benchmarks, and develop and implement rebuilding plans for depleted stocks.

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule

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

The objective is to formally define limit reference points (LRPs) for each fishery unit and determine if any stock is near or below its LRP.

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Methods for estimating escapements and exploitation rates should be scientifically defensible, and exploitation rates should 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:

Fraser pink salmon escapements are estimated as the projected run size (based on data from test fisheries) minus the catch, but there was no evidence of general scientific agreement regarding this estimation method. To close this condition, the Client should demonstrate that recovery plans will be developed and implemented for severely depleted stocks. The plans should allow stocks to recover to at least 150% of their LRPs before fisheries are permitted to target them.

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule

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 direct fishery impacts on these species.

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DFO’s Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative includes resources for developing and implementing a framework to improve catch monitoring and reporting. DFO will report on the current program for monitoring catch and associated bycatch and evaluate the utility of the bycatch data for stock assessment. Simulation models for evaluating bycatch harvest impacts will be developed based on existing frameworks.

Update:

As described under Condition 1-1, DFO provided bycatch estimates for non-target species in the Fraser certification unit. The bycatch monitoring program includes third-party fishery observers and monitoring of landed catches, and bycatch estimates are reviewed annually. The program was considered sufficient for closing this condition.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed

Condition 2-3: Develop recovery plans for all non-target stocks that appear depleted.

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

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The BC pink salmon fisheries catch fish from some populations of conservation concern, including many BC chum stocks, late Fraser sockeye, Sakinaw sockeye, interior Fraser coho, steelhead, West Coast Vancouver Island Chinook and Lower Georgia Strait Chinook. In addition, some pink salmon stocks in the Inner South Coast (Broughton Archipelago) have been in decline, and DFO should describe their current status, including whether or not they are targeted by the fishery.

DFO will define lower and upper benchmarks for non-target stocks and monitor their status. Recovery plans will be developed and implemented for stocks that are below their lower benchmarks. These plans will include stated objectives and timelines for rebuilding, and they will also demonstrate how fisheries management will help meet the objectives. Performance of the recovery measures will be reviewed annually.

Update:

DFO is still in the process of determining LRPs and TRPs for Fraser CUs and is not currently developing recovery plans, as it is uncertain which non-target stocks are depleted (below their LRPs). After depleted stocks have been identified, DFO and the Client need to develop recovery plans and provide evidence that:

  • Recovery plans aim to rebuild non-target stocks above LRPs and are assessed.
  • Recovery objectives consider historic abundances.
  • Harvests are managed so that there is a high probability of recovery within a reasonable time frame.
  • Monitoring programs are in place to determine whether recovery is occurring.
  • Escapement goals will be revised periodically based on monitoring data.
  • Plans consider the impacts of non-fishing related human activity on depleted non-target stocks.
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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule

Condition 3-1: Define management objectives that will establish benchmarks for all pink salmon fisheries.

The goal is to establish management objectives that will clearly define lower and upper benchmarks for all targeted stocks, to facilitate effective fisheries management.

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DFO will develop these objectives by identifying target stocks (CUs) and defining benchmarks. The benchmarks should account for bycatch to avoid depleting non-target stocks.

Update:

As described under Conditions 1-4 and 1-5, there is an interim LRP and TRP for Fraser pink salmon that is accepted and used by management. There are also reliable bycatch estimates as described under Condition 1-1. Thus the audit team closed this condition.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed

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

The goal is to establish management objectives that include accurate estimation of bycatch of non-target stocks.

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In the Fraser unit, there are particular concerns about the reliability of bycatch estimates for sturgeon and steelhead. DFO has programs in place to estimate the numbers of sturgeon and steelhead encountered in Fraser pink salmon fisheries and will provide a report on bycatch estimates.

Update:

The catch monitoring program for Fraser pink salmon fisheries has been evaluated, and reliable bycatch estimates have been provided. The audit team therefore closed this condition.

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Timeline: 
Closed at the second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed

Condition 3-6: Develop a comprehensive research plan.

The objective is to develop a research plan that addresses fishery impacts on the ecosystem, including direct effects on bycatch species and socioeconomic issues that result from management decisions.

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The plan should also be responsive to changes in the fishery. DFO will create a plan as part of the effort to develop a Resource Assessment Framework (RAF) for all of its salmon fisheries. RAFs guide assessment priorities based on knowledge gaps and the biological status of each management unit.

Update:

DFO provided the current draft of their Salmon Stock Assessment Framework (SAF) and business plan, which determines priorities for research based on management needs and available information and resources. However, the SAF is incomplete and still requires endorsement from scientists and management agencies. It is also unclear how the framework addresses concerns regarding fishery impacts on the ecosystem. To close this condition, research on ecosystem impacts needs to be considered. 

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule

Condition 3-7: 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. DFO will conduct external reviews on an annual basis through their Integrated Harvest Planning Committee (IHPC), which includes representatives from First Nations and commercial, recreational, and environmental organizations. The Client will also contract a recognized salmon fisheries management expert to provide a report on fisheries management performance.  The report will assess performance in meeting stated objectives and will highlight areas of concern and opportunities for improvement. The expert will provide a presentation to IHPC during its post-season evaluation process.

Update:

Although the IHPC review is of value, it is not an external review. In 2009, a commission was appointed to investigate the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon. The commission produced a report in 2012 that described potential causes of the decline and made some management recommendations, such as cessation of net-pen salmon farm production in the Discovery Islands. The audit team accepted the report as evidence that an external review of the management system had been conducted. However, this condition cannot be closed until DFO commits to conducting external reviews on a regular basis. 

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

Condition 3-9: Obtain cooperation of the fishing industry and other relevant stakeholders in collecting data on catch and discard of non-target species and undersized individuals of target species.

The goal is to obtain more reliable estimates of non-target bycatch species for the Fraser pink salmon fishery.

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DFO will develop a program to estimate fishery impacts on steelhead and sturgeon and will provide a summary report on their work.

Update:

As described under Condition 1-1, DFO provided bycatch estimates for non-target species in the Fraser certification unit. The bycatch monitoring program includes third-party fishery observers and monitoring of landed catches, and bycatch estimates are reviewed annually. Thus the audit team closed this condition.

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Timeline: 
Closed at second surveillance audit, October 2013
Priority: 
Low
Status: 
Completed
Relevant Performance Indicator: 
2013 Annual Review - Log in or register to access this file.
2013 Action Plan - Log in or register to access this file.