February 2015 Update
A request to delay publication of the second annual surveillance report was granted by MSC in October 2014. The stated reasons for the delay were: 1) a desire to save costs by conducting audits for the Ozernaya and Northeast Sakhalin fisheries at the same time, and 2) the fishery not being open again until June/July 2015. The second surveillance audit is tentatively scheduled for April 2015.
The Ozernaya fishery clients have continued their independent observer program by hiring a government-affiliated (KamchatNIRO) observer each year. In addition, KamchatNIRO scientists regularly monitor the Ozernaya River for their research on habitat.
Condition 1: Demonstrate that management reference points will help maintain the diversity and reproductive output of wild sockeye salmon stock components.
The reference points used to determine escapement goals are based on limited years of escapement information and have resulted in heavy exploitation rates (ranging from about 67-88%), which may lower sockeye abundances if no adjustments are made for possible shifts in environmental conditions.Read More
The reference points may also be inadequate for maintaining the productivity of all stock components. The objective is to develop and implement a plan for re-assessment of Ozernaya River sockeye escapement goals using information collected through 2012, including data from especially large escapements in 2003 and 2007. The Client will work with KamchatNIRO to estimate the relationship between the number of spawners and the number of recruits and set an escapement goal that will help maintain sockeye abundances. The analysis will also consider measures for preserving the timing and spatial distribution of stock components and account for uncertainty associated with changing climate conditions.
Although KamchatNIRO provided escapement data through 2012, they elected not to revise the current escapement goal based on newer data, claiming that: 1) the total number of fish produced by the large number of parents that spawned in 2007 have not yet been completely counted (due to older aged fish that return to freshwater in 2013 and 2014), and 2) large salmon escapements in 2003 and 2007 were data outliers. Escapement goals are not defined separately for early and late-run stock components, but neither component appears to be at high risk of overexploitation because the in-river fishery is opened and closed at regular intervals throughout the fishing season. Additionally, numbers of salmon entering spawning areas are monitored for both early and late-run stock components.
Although the originally proposed actions were not executed, the audit team closed this condition as they deemed current escapement goals adequate for the time being. Additionally, they observed that the client companies cannot change escapement goals without cooperation from KamchatNIRO. The audit team noted that KamchatNIRO should re-assess the Ozernaya sockeye escapement goals at a later date and that this issue will continue to be evaluated during future surveillances as pertinent information becomes available.Read Less
Condition 2: Collect information on all fishery catches to support the harvest strategy.
The objective is to estimate catches for all sources of fishing mortality on Ozernaya River sockeye to improve the harvest strategy.Read More
There is already good information on commercial harvests in the Ozernaya River and nearby marine areas, but catch estimates for the offshore driftnet fishery and illegal freshwater harvest are lacking. The Client will work with KamchatNIRO to compile annual estimates of historic and current driftnet fishery harvest. Historical information on illegal harvests will be gathered as well, and the Client will continue an independent observer program started in 2011 with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wild Salmon Center (WSC) for recording data on poaching activity observed by independent and government patrols. Poaching logbooks will include dates, locations, and estimates of illegal harvest.
KamchatNIRO provided catch data for the offshore driftnet fishery from 2000 to 2012, in addition to data on interceptions of Ozernaya sockeye salmon in marine trapnet fisheries north of the Ozernaya River. Information from the Kamchatka Federal Police Department and the Kamchatka branch of the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency indicates that data on poaching incidents have been collected since 2000. Although historical levels of illegal harvest have not been quantified, fishing companies, government agencies, and other stakeholders report that enforcement has been largely effective at limiting poaching. The 2014 independent observer program identified only a few cases of poaching.Read Less
Condition 3: Assess fishery impacts on retained species.
The objective is to collect sufficient information on retained species in the fishery, including pink salmon and char, to estimate fishery impacts on their local populations.Read More
The Client will work with KamchatNIRO to estimate relative abundances of retained species from 2001 to the present, assess the population status of these species, and determine any risks from the Ozernaya sockeye fishery. This information will be summarized in a report.
The Client has kept catch records on retained species since 2009 and provided catches by company, fishing parcel, year, and species for 2012 and 2013. The 2012 and 2013 data showed that retained species comprise a very low percentage of the total harvest. KamchatNIRO also provided a summary of data collected on retained species since 1991, with catches showing no clear trends over time. The KamchatNIRO data will be analyzed further for the next audit, and data from the independent observer program (described under Condition 2) will be examined as well.Read Less
Condition 4: Evaluate fishery impacts on endangered, threatened, or protected (ETP) species.
The objective is to demonstrate that the fishery does not cause significant negative impacts on ETP species.Read More
Seals are the only mammal regularly observed encountering fishing gear in coastal areas, as they enter trap nets to eat the enclosed fish. Although the nets do not harm seals directly, fishers regard the seals as a nuisance and occasionally shoot near or at them. Pacific seagulls may also fly near the fishing gear and be potentially affected by gunshots. The Client will prohibit firearms on their fishing boats and ban the use of firearms to scare, injure, or kill marine mammals and birds. The Client will also work with an independent third party to verify that the prohibition is implemented and working.
The client companies adopted a policy prohibiting firearms on their fishing boats and have hired a fishery observer from KamchatNIRO each year. The observer program will document fishery encounters with mammals and birds.Read Less
Condition 5: Estimate fishery impacts on ETP species.
The objective is to quantitatively estimate fishery-related mortality and impacts on ETP species.Read More
Quantitative estimates are probably unobtainable for rarer ETP species such as Steller sea lions and some marine mammals, as fishery encounters seldom occur. However, interactions with seals are more common. The Client will work with KamchatNIRO or other experts to estimate historical and current abundances for seals and sea lions, and compare abundance trends between the Ozernaya River area and other regions that have few human impacts. If abundances are decreasing faster in the Ozernaya area relative to the other regions, there may be evidence for fishery impacts on seals and sea lions. A report describing the analysis will be submitted.
KamchatNIRO provided some data on seal and sea lion abundances, and the Client reviewed scientific literature on seal and sea lion distribution and population status. The literature search did not uncover any information that could be used to compare marine mammal abundances between areas with and without sockeye salmon fisheries. Nevertheless, the information found suggested that fishery impacts on marine mammals are negligible, and thus this condition was closed. Data collected by the independent observer program described under Condition 4 will be used to estimate fishery encounter rates with marine mammals.Read Less
Condition 6: Assess fishery impacts on habitat.
The objective is to identify and quantify any fishery impacts on habitat.Read More
The Client will work with Scannex, a Russian remote sensing company, or Google maps and WWF and WSC to trace development of man-made structures in the Ozernaya River mouth area using satellite imagery. The Client will also hire a contract expert or work with KamchatNIRO to establish a baseline habitat profile of the river mouth that includes information on the channel type, river topography, and areas that may be used by adult salmon and juveniles. Annual work activities that take place in the freshwater system, the work periods, and the extent of affected areas should be documented.
KamchatNIRO developed a plan to: 1) assess fishing impacts on habitat in the lower portion of the Ozernaya River, and 2) create a basic habitat profile of the river that describes the topography of the river bottom and identifies areas potentially used by salmon. The plan will include recommendations for mitigating any negative fishery effects on habitat. KamchatNIRO also reported that some fishing companies performed dredging operations in the Ozernaya River mouth in recent years. The government has not approved further dredging while habitat impacts are being assessed. Scientists monitored the river during the 2014 fishing season, and no dredging was observed.Read Less
Condition 7: Demonstrate general compliance with fishery regulations.
There is some uncertainty regarding the levels of fishery compliance with marine mammal protection regulations and geographic fishing boundaries, and the objective is to show that there is no systematic noncompliance.Read More
The Client will work with Scannex or Google maps and WWF and WSC to obtain satellite imagery of the coastal fishing area, to check that trap nets are operated within allocated boundaries. Video of some fishing areas will be recorded continuously during the fishing season, and a third-party expert will view the footage to verify legality of in-river fishing operations. An independent observer program for monitoring illegal, unreported, and unregulated fisheries will be continued. The Client will prohibit firearms on their fishing boats and ban the use of firearms to scare, injure, or kill marine mammals and birds. The Client will also work with an independent third party to verify that the prohibition is implemented and working.
Compliance with licensed fishing sites was evaluated by comparison of GPS coordinates and license specifications. This showed that some trap nets were not located within allocated boundaries, and discrepancies were corrected. Net sites have been verified and marked with permanent signs that are visible by helicopters used for enforcement. Plans for the monitoring system are still in development, as poor internet connectivity precludes the use of web cameras, so monitoring will rely on independent fishery observers. Poor internet connectivity precludes the use of web cameras, so monitoring relies on the independent fishery observers hired each year.Read Less
Condition 8: Provide a research plan.
The Client must provide a research plan that describes a strategic approach for conducting research on Ozernaya River sockeye and related fisheries, retained species, and bycatch species.Read More
The plan will include work conducted by the research station at Kuril Lake. A research program was approved by the Federal Agency for Fisheries in 2007, titled “Far Eastern Basin program of complex investigation of Pacific salmon for period 2007‐2012”. This program addresses information needs for effective fishery management, but the plans have not been provided.
KamchatNIRO provided a report on long-term research conducted at Kuril Lake. The research program includes study of both salmon biology and habitat, and standardized monitoring procedures are conducted every year. The information provided was sufficient for closing this condition.Read Less
Condition 9: Provide annual sockeye run and fishery monitoring and evaluation information.
The objective is to establish an effective approach for providing annual fishery management information that can be reviewed by external parties.Read More
Although the management system is subject to regular internal review, opportunities for external review are limited by the availability of information. For instance, data on run size, harvest by time and area, fishery management actions, and escapement are not typically reported outside of the management system but should be provided.
KamchatNIRO provided fishery management information on the following websites:
Information will continue to be updated for each annual surveillance. The client companies have not posted fishery data on their own website.Read Less