2013 Annual Review
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 ISC Unit of Certification, 6 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.Read More
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.
DFO did not provide any documents confirming that mechanisms exist for ensuring accurate catch reporting in ISC fisheries. To close this condition, the Client needs to describe the catch monitoring program and the methods used to verify catches.Read Less
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.Read More
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.
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.Read Less
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.Read More
The current monitoring program involves test fisheries, sampling at hatcheries, and DNA collection. 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, and DNA collections are used to estimate stock compositions of harvests. The scientific basis of these methods will be provided, and data on fish body weights will be used to assess trends in the size of pinks salmon harvested in each fishery.
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.Read Less
Condition 1-3a: Estimate productivities of target and non-target stocks.
The objective is to estimate and maintain productivities of both target stocks and non-target stocks, especially in cases where the fishery may remove a significant component of the non-target stocks.Read More
For target stocks, a combination of management escapement goals and in-season fishery regulation help maintain population sizes, although there have been few formal analyses of stock productivity. Non-target stocks have received less attention, and there are currently no reliable productivity estimates for some of the chum salmon stocks harvested in the ISC pink salmon fishery. First, DFO will demonstrate that there is sufficient information to estimate the relative productivity of target and non-target stocks. Next, they will describe how the fishery may impact non-target stocks and show how uncertainty surrounding productivity of these stocks is accounted for in fishery management. Once required data have been collected, DFO will evaluate the relative productivity of non-target stocks.
DFO estimated total run sizes and developed benchmarks to assess stock status and productivity. Their analyses showed that there is high variability in pink salmon productivity within and between CUs. Although it was not apparent that the productivity of non-target stocks was estimated, the audit team decided that the information provided was adequate for closing the condition.Read Less
Conditions 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.Read More
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.
Although formal LRPs have not yet been developed, each CU has an interim lower benchmark defined as 25% of the MEG. Since there is no evidence of scientific controversy regarding these benchmarks, the audit team closed this condition. Formal LRPs are still supposed to be established and reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat.Read Less
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.Read More
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.
Although formal TRPs have not yet been developed, each CU has an interim lower benchmark defined as 75% of the MEG. Since there is no evidence of scientific controversy regarding these benchmarks, the audit team closed this condition. Formal TRPs are still supposed to be established and reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat.Read Less
Condition 1-6: Develop recovery plans for depleted stocks.
To obtain certification, a fishery should not hinder recovery of any depleted stocks.Read More
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.
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.Read Less
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.Read More
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).
DFO estimated total run sizes and used the information to estimate escapements and exploitation rates for ISC pink salmon CUs. Their analyses provided evidence that fishing is reduced as target stocks approach lower benchmarks. In the five most recent years, there was only one year in which escapements were near or below the lower benchmark. The audit team deemed this information sufficient for closing the condition.Read Less
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.Read More
The British Columbia (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 a timeline for rebuilding, and they will also demonstrate how fisheries management will help meet the objectives. Performance of the recovery measures will be reviewed annually.
DFO has just finished proposing LRPs and TRPs for ISC CUs and has not yet started developing recovery plans. 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.
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.Read More
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.
As described under Conditions 1-4 and 1-5, there are interim LRPs and TRPs for ISC pink salmon that are accepted and used by management. Thus the audit team closed this condition. However, it should be noted that reliable bycatch estimates are still needed for this certification unit.Read Less
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, as well as socioeconomic issues that result from management decisions.Read More
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.
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.Read Less
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.Read More
There also needs to be a commitment to conduct similar reviews at least once every five years. DFO will conduct 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.
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.Read Less