The 2011 MSC Pre-assessment identified issues within the three MSC principles that required special attention:
- Stock health – Some key data needed to accurately assess exploitation rates and productivity of local stocks were incomplete or not provided, specifically target reference points, spawning escapements, and fishery removals (including catches of local stocks by adjacent coastal fisheries, the high seas driftnet fishery, and illegal harvest). Additionally, there is one location where hatchery fish may interact substantially with wild salmon populations.
- Ecosystem health – Although the fishery is thought to have few negative impacts on retained, bycatch, and ETP species, there was no documentation of catches for these species. Kamchatka steelhead/rainbow trout is an ETP species of particular concern that may be caught incidentally by the commercial fishery.
- Management system – The most important management issue is compliance and enforcement of management measures since poaching is widespread, especially in the Bolshaya River system. Some recent management reforms are supposed to have reduced illegal harvest, but monitoring data are incomplete, making it difficult to evaluate the effects of these reforms.
The assessment team rated 33 MSC performance indicators for this fishery, with 17 rated as likely to pass, 13 likely to pass with conditions, and 3 likely to fail.
The Wild Salmon Center and the World Wildlife Fund drafted a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) Work Plan that describes timelines and actions that should be taken to address the issues identified in the pre-assessment. In brief, the actions are as follows:
- Stock health – Provide target reference points and spawning escapements, as well as information on all fishery removals for target stocks. Describe strategies used to minimize impacts of hatchery releases on wild salmon stocks.
- Ecosystem health – Provide information on the nature and extent of all retained and bycatch species, and implement a management strategy for ETP species.
- Management system – Implement monitoring and enforcement programs that are effective and will ensure compliance with fishing regulations. Engage local communities in the certification process.
Goal 1.1: Provide target reference points and spawning escapements
Target reference points are used as guidelines for determining escapement goals, with the aim of preventing a stock from becoming overfished.Read More
In the Narody Severa-Bolsheretsk fishery, target reference points are estimated for each salmon species for the entire northwestern Kamchatka area. However, no documentation was provided of these target reference points or of spawning escapements, which are needed to determine stock status. We recommend the following approach:
- Describe and justify target reference points or escapement goals for each species in each river.
- Describe the programs used to monitor spawning escapements for the most recent 10 years to demonstrate efficacy at achieving target reference points.
- Provide data on spawning escapements by species and river.
Goal 1.2: Provide relevant information on all fishery removals for target stocks.
Although fishery harvest information is routinely collected, no catch information was provided during the pre-assessment. In addition, harvest data for these stocks in other fisheries (including the high seas driftnet fishery and poaching) were incomplete or not provided.Read More
This information is needed to assess exploitation rates and productivity of local stocks, and we recommend the following approach:
- Provide commercial catch information (both for each fishery and for only the participating companies) for each species in each river for at least the past 10 years.
- Provide estimates of the high-seas drift net catch of the relevant stocks for at least the past 10 years.
- Provide estimates of illegal freshwater harvests by species and river for 2007-2012.
Goal 1.3: Provide information on strategies used to minimize impacts of hatchery releases on wild salmon stocks.
There are two Bolshaya River hatcheries that produce chum, sockeye, coho, and Chinook salmon.Read More
These species are considered retained species for the Bolshaya pink salmon fishery, and the effects of hatchery production should be considered under ecosystem impacts. However, the impact of hatchery activities on Bolshaya chum, sockeye, and coho salmon will need to be considered under target stock impacts. All hatchery production is marked so that the origin of the salmon (hatchery or wild) can be determined. The other two rivers in the fishery, the Kikhchik and Opala, do not have hatcheries. Hatchery contributions to salmon stocks are generally low (<7%) except in the Bystraya River (tributary to the Bolshaya River), where the proportion of hatchery-origin fish can be as high as 50% in the sockeye salmon population. Wild Bystraya River sockeye are therefore likely to interact with hatchery fish, and information is needed on how potential hatchery impacts will be managed. We recommend the following actions:
- Provide information on strategies used to reduce impacts of hatchery releases on wild salmon stocks in the Bolshaya River.
- Provide annual estimates of the hatchery contribution to the Bolshaya catch, hatchery broodstock, and spawning escapements for the past 10 years.
Goal 2.1: Provide information on the nature and extent of all retained and bycatch species.
With the exception of Chinook salmon, few data are available on non-target species caught by the fishery.Read More
However, data on all retained and bycatch species are supposed to be collected according to fishery regulations. We recommend the following actions:
- Work with KamchatNIRO to develop and implement a plan to assess the impact of the fishery on all retained and bycatch species, including Chinook salmon, char, flatfish, cod, and sculpin.
- Analyze historical and current data on abundances and average fish body weights of retained species back to 2001.
- Collaborate with Wild Salmon Center (WSC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to implement a fishery-independent monitoring program for all retained and bycatch species.
Goal 2.2: Implement a management strategy for ETP species.
The primary endangered, threatened, or protected (ETP) species potentially caught by the fishery is Kamchatka steelhead/rainbow trout, which is listed in Russia’s Red Book.Read More
Kamchatka steelhead (anadromous rainbow trout) enter rivers in September through November, later than the main fishing season for Pacific salmon. Incidental catches may therefore be minimal, although no supporting data were provided. Killer whales, white whales, seals, cormorants, and sea eagles are also present, but they avoid trap nets and beach seines easily. There are currently no management plans or strategies for ETP species, although plans are in development by the All-Russia Research Institute for Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO). If the fishery is shown to have low impacts on ETP species, a simple management strategy of maintaining minimal impacts would suffice. We recommend the following actions:
- Provide catch data for Kamchatka steelhead and marine mammals.
- Work with KamchatNIRO to develop a formal management strategy for ETP species.
- Collaborate with WSC and WWF to implement an independent monitoring program for ETP species.
Goal 3.1: Implement monitoring and enforcement programs that are effective and will ensure compliance with fishing regulations.
The fishery is monitored by state fisheries inspection, but criminal poaching is a major problem that is especially common on the Bolshaya River due to its developed road system.Read More
Recent fishery management reforms have apparently reduced illegal harvest, but documentation of improvement is lacking because only poaching data through 2006 were provided. We recommend the following approach:
- Provide estimates of annual illegal catch through 2013 (KamchatNIRO has provided estimates through 2006), which may show evidence of any increasing or decreasing trends in the level of freshwater poaching.
- Provide logbooks of the fishing companies’ anti-poaching activities through 2013.
- Collaborate with WSC and WWF to implement an independent monitoring program to verify regulation compliance and enforcement.
Goal 3.2: Engage local communities in the certification process.
The salmon fisheries management system is complex and not very transparent.Read More
Forecasts of recommended catches involve multiple consultations with government agencies, but mechanisms for involving the broader community, special interest groups, and local stakeholders in fishery management are not well developed or understood. To improve data accessibility and increase transparency, we recommend the following actions:
- Working with the Wild Salmon Center and the World Wildlife Fund, create a webpage providing all relevant information necessary for MSC certification, such as post annual fishery documents, scientific reports, the MSC pre-assessment, a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) work plan, commercial catches, escapement data, hatchery releases, etc.
- Engage the local community and hold a meeting to explain the MSC assessment process, likely in Ust-Bolsheretsk, for interested stakeholders.