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2013 Annual Review

January, 2014

The audit team conducted the second annual surveillance visit October 7-11, 2013, and published the surveillance report in January 2014. For the NCCC Unit of Certification, 10 conditions were closed, 1 condition remained open and on track, and 9 conditions remained open and behind target.

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:

The NCCC fishery implemented a pilot catch monitoring program using suggested requirements from the 2012 “Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries.” The program uses data from independent observers and will be reviewed regularly. In addition to observer data, bycatch is recorded in fisher logbooks, and potential bias in logbook records was evaluated by comparing logbook and observer data. The comparison indicated that the two data types were generally consistent except in gillnet fisheries, where logbooks underestimated chum bycatch by about 50%. The audit team closed the condition because the bycatch monitoring system appears reliable and will be subject to periodic evaluation.

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Timeline: 
Closed at the 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 has defined indicator streams and prepared annual escapement estimates for both target and non-target species. They also provided a report describing the methods used to determine escapement estimates. However, escapement estimates and the escapement monitoring program need to be reviewed by the Canadian Scientific Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) to close this condition.

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Timeline: 
September 2014, by third 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:

Data were provided for North Coast pink salmon body weights by area. In addition, 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 1-3a: 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.

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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 chum salmon stocks harvested in NCCC pink salmon fisheries. 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.

Update:

DFO provided charts showing population dynamics and stock assessments for sockeye and chum CUs. However, these charts were generally not accompanied by descriptions of the data and methods used to create them. The exception was Skeena sockeye CUs, since their productivities were assessed in a separate report. Several actions are required to close this condition. First, DFO must provide an internally-reviewed report that fully describes the chum and sockeye population data for all CUs. The audit team will then verify whether there is sufficient information to estimate productivity for non-target stocks. Second, DFO must show how uncertainty regarding the productivity of non-target stocks is accounted for in fishery management.

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Timeline: 
September 2014, by third surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
On track
Relevant Performance Indicator: 

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:

DFO provided LRPs for each NCCC pink salmon CU, but the analyses for determining these LRPs have not been reviewed, and there are no technical reports confirming that these LRPs are being used by fisheries management. To close this condition, the Client needs to show that that the reference points have been reviewed and accepted by management.

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

DFO provided a variety of TRPs for NCCC pink salmon, but the analyses for determining these TRPs have not been reviewed, and there are no technical reports confirming that these TRPs are being used by fisheries management. To close this condition, the Client needs to show that that the reference points have been reviewed and accepted by management.

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
Priority: 
High
Status: 
Behind schedule
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 2014, by third 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:

Escapements and interim LRPs have been provided for the NCCC unit, though the estimates still need to be formally reviewed by CSAS. One report suggested that NCCC escapement estimates and catch monitoring programs are scientifically defensible, but the report also made some recommendations for improving monitoring programs that the audit team encourages management to implement.

In two of the past ten years, two DFO statistical areas had escapements below the interim LRP, while other areas fell below the LRP even less frequently. Thus there was evidence that harvest is reduced when stocks show signs of depletion. The audit team consequently closed this condition.

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

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, the NCCC fishery implemented a pilot catch monitoring program using suggested minimum requirements from the 2012 “Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries.” The program uses data from independent observers and will be reviewed regularly. Bycatch generally appeared reliable with the exception of logbook estimates of chum bycatch in gillnet fisheries. The monitoring 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 2-2: Determine if bycatch reduction methods are effective.

DFO has a lengthy history of identifying ecosystem-related problems in salmon fisheries and altering management plans in response.

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This adaptive approach has been generally been observed in all BC pink salmon fisheries except in NCCC Areas 3 and 4, where there is limited evidence of a successful bycatch monitoring and control program. To meet this condition, DFO will report on the current program for monitoring catch and bycatch in the pink salmon fisheries in NCCC Areas 3 to 6. DFO will be aided by its Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative, which includes resources for developing and implementing a framework to improve catch monitoring and reporting. Simulation models for evaluating bycatch harvest impacts will be developed based on existing frameworks.

Update:

As described under Conditions 1-1 and 2-1, the NCCC fishery implemented a pilot catch monitoring program using suggested minimum requirements from the 2012 “Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries.” The program uses data from independent observers and will be reviewed regularly. Bycatch estimates generally appeared reliable with the exception of logbook estimates of chum bycatch in gillnet fisheries, and they suggested that chum harvests are low and steelhead harvests are very low. Since the Client showed that the monitoring program is effective and can be used to evaluate fishery impacts on bycatch, this condition was closed. 

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Timeline: 
September 2013, by second surveillance audit
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 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.

Update:

Draft recovery plans were provided for DFO Statistical Areas 3, 4, and 6 in the NCCC unit. Each area has interim lower benchmarks to assess stock status, but there is no technical report confirming that these lower benchmarks have been adopted by management. In addition, the recovery plans did not state explicit objectives for rebuilding depleted stocks. To close this condition, DFO and the Client need to 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:

Harvest control rules (rules for determining harvest rates) are clearly described and responsive to changes in escapements. Reliable bycatch estimates are available as described under Condition 1-1. DFO provided LRPs for all NCCC pink salmon CUs and some TRPs, but the analyses for determining these reference points have not been reviewed, and there are no technical reports confirming that they are being used by fisheries management. The Client must show that the reference points have been reviewed and accepted by management to close this condition.

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

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

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

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In the NCCC unit, there are particular concerns about the reliability of bycatch estimates for Skeena steelhead and chum. DFO will provide a report on bycatch estimates for this certification unit.                                  

Update:

As described under Conditions 1-1 and 2-1, the NCCC fishery implemented a pilot catch monitoring program using suggested minimum requirements from the 2012 “Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries.” The program uses data from independent observers and will be reviewed regularly. Bycatch estimates obtained thus far appear reliable (with the exception of logbook estimates of chum bycatch in gillnet fisheries), and they suggest that chum harvests are low and steelhead harvests are very low. Since the estimates can be used to assess changes in bycatch rates over time, this condition was re-scored to 80. However, Condition 3-2 cannot be closed until Condition 3-1 is closed, making progress behind schedule.

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

Condition 3-4: Document responses to management and conservation concerns.

DFO has not yet demonstrated an adaptive management approach in Areas 3 to 6 of the NCCC certification unit, where bycatch of chum stocks is a conservation concern.

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DFO will provide evidence that they have established an effective process for making appropriate management changes after receiving new information on the fishery, within 12 months of receiving that information.

Update:

DFO implemented a pilot catch monitoring program to address concerns about the reliability of bycatch estimates, and they are developing recovery plans for depleted chum stocks. These actions show that DFO makes management adjustments in response to new fishery information, and thus the audit team closed the condition.

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

Condition 3-5: Create effective incentives for harvesters to stay within target catches.

The objective is to implement programs that create incentives for fishers to avoid exceeding target catches.

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There was no evidence for such programs in the NCCC certification unit. DFO will test programs that improve management control and conservation performance, promote the use of clearly defined catch shares, increase the ability of fishers to work cooperatively to harvest available surpluses, and encourage fishers to responsibly manage and monitor their fishery. DFO will provide evidence that incentive programs have been implemented.

Update:

Fishery time and area closures are the primary tool for achieving escapement goals in the NCCC certification unit, though incentive programs for staying within target catches have been tested in some DFO Statistical Areas. Individual transferable quota (ITQ) seine fisheries for pink salmon were implemented in Areas 3 and 4 in 2011, and an effort-limited seine fishery was initiated in Area 6 in 2013. Catch and escapement data suggest that catch targets are generally not exceeded, and fishery effort for both seine and gillnet fisheries has decreased in recent years. The audit team considered this information sufficient for closing the condition.

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Timeline: 
Closed at 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, as well as 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 3-6a: Improve compliance with fishery regulations.

The objective is to establish management provisions that will improve compliance with fishery regulations, as there were concerns regarding the reporting of steelhead and chum bycatch in Areas 3 and 4 of the NCCC certification unit.

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DFO will complete a report documenting any changes that have been undertaken to improve compliance.

Update:

Even though this condition was closed, there is some controversy regarding levels of compliance in the fishing fleet. DFO implements fishery closures to reduce bycatch and imposes regulations to minimize bycatch mortality. However, environmental NGOs suggested that some gillnet and seine fishing vessels do not follow regulations closely, and the Watershed Watch Salmon Society shot video supporting this claim. DFO’s Conservation and Protection program provided some enforcement statistics but cautioned that they should not be used to analyze trends in compliance since enforcement staffing and effort has changed over time. The audit team decided that enforcement is generally effective even though compliance is imperfect.

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

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 3-7a: Demonstrate that fishing activity is conducted in a manner that reduces mortality of non-target species of conservation concern.

There are concerns about bycatch in Areas 3 and 4 of the NCCC fishery, and measures need to be taken to reduce mortality on non-target species.

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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. Simulation models will be developed for evaluating bycatch harvest impacts.

Update:

DFO provided some evidence that management reduces bycatch through timing of fishery closures, and that current net mesh sizes are selective for the target species. Reliability of bycatch estimates has also been more fully evaluated (see Condition 1-1). The audit team deemed these actions adequate for closing the condition. Nevertheless, recent observations of bycatch discard practices indicate a continued need for independent scientific investigation of discard handling and mortality, as well as adequate monitoring and enforcement for ensuring compliance.

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

Condition 3-8: 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.

There are concerns about the reliability of bycatch estimates for steelhead and chum in Areas 3 and 4 of the NCCC fishery, and the goal is to obtain accurate estimates.

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DFO will provide a report on bycatch estimates for this certification unit.

Update:

As described under Condition 1-1, DFO has evaluated bycatch estimates in the NCCC fishery and found them reliable with the exception of chum bycatch in the gillnet fisheries. The audit team therefore closed this condition.

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