July 2015 Update
The Public Comment Draft Report for this fishery has not yet been released as of July 2015. The Clients obtained fishery data from KamchatNIRO and provided them to the assessment team last fall. However, the Clients have still not provided a client action plan to address proposed MSC conditions outlined by the MSC assessment team.
Although the Clients provided information needed to complete some of the actions items identified in the FIP Action Plan last fall, there has been no further progress since that time. In addition, the Clients have not confirmed their commitment to continue working on the remaining action items this fishing season.
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.
Escapement goals are set for the entire west Kamchatka coast region rather than for individual rivers. The Clients worked with KamchatNIRO to obtain the goals as well as region-wide and river-specific escapement estimates from 2003-2013.Read Less
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.
The clients provided commercial catch data by river for the past four decades. High-seas drift net harvests of Bolshaya River sockeye salmon are not estimated, but fishing mortality rates are thought to be comparable to those on the nearby Ozernaya sockeye salmon stock (20%). Estimates of illegal freshwater harvests for the Bolshaya River and the entire Kamchatka region were provided. Due to ease of access, illegal harvest is substantially greater in the Bolshaya River than in the Kikhchik and Opala rivers.Read Less
Goal 1.3: Provide information on strategies used to minimize impacts of hatchery releases on wild salmon stocks.
There are two Bolshaya River hatcheries (Ozerki and Malkinsky) 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.
The Bolshaya River hatcheries employ some strategies to limit or at least monitor impacts of hatchery releases on wild populations. Hatchery-produced salmon are thermally marked, and individuals from local populations are generally used as broodstock, with some exceptions for chum and sockeye produced in the Ozerki hatchery. Hatchery contributions to salmon populations in the Bolshaya River and hatchery tributaries have been estimated, and the information suggests that proportions of hatchery salmon are low (< 5%) in non-hatchery rivers.Read Less
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 Ocean Outcomes (O2), Wild Salmon Center (WSC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to implement a fishery-independent monitoring program for all retained and bycatch species.
The primary retained species in this fishery are coho salmon, sockeye salmon, and char. Chinook salmon cannot be retained. Proportions (by weight) of these species in commercial harvests have been estimated for approximately the past five years (2009 to 2014 for coho and sockeye; 2005 to 2010 for char). Detailed biological data are available for coho and sockeye but not for char.
Bycatch is not assessed by the fishery or management system due to the low volumes caught. Independent observers monitored the fishery during the 2014 fishing season. Although bycatch was mostly monitored opportunistically rather than through a comprehensive sampling program, they observed only bycatch of some flounders, which were released. As of July, the Client had not agreed to implement a fishery-independent monitoring program for the 2015 season.
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.
Independent observers monitored the fishery in 2014 fishing season but were not present during the early part of the season when steelhead would normally be in the river. Fishery managers and inspectors periodically visit fishing sites as well. These observers and inspectors have not observed adverse fishery impacts on Kamchatka steelhead, although supporting data have not been collected. A management strategy for ETP species has not been developed because fishery managers have not seen the need. As of July, the Client had not agreed to implement a fishery-independent monitoring program for the 2015 season.Read Less
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.
Estimates of illegal catch past 2006 have not been obtained. Nevertheless, Shevliakov (2013) estimated that poaching likely represents 8-15% of the legal catch in recent years. These percentages are lower than those for catches made before 2006. The client companies collaborated with the Wild Salmon Center, Ocean Outcomes and WWF to implement an independent monitoring program in 2014 to determine legality of net placements, and they have also hired personnel to patrol rivers for poachers. The Russian government’s enforcement branch, SVTU, reported few corruption cases in recent years. As of July, the Client had not agreed to implement a fishery-independent monitoring program for the 2015 season. Further, it is not clear whether they intend to continue to patrol rivers for poachers this year.Read Less
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.
Fishery information has not been posted, nor has a stakeholder meeting been held.Read Less