Ocean Outcomes conducted a pre-assessment of the Vityaz-Avto and Delta West Kamchatka fisheries in 2014 based on MSC performance indicators. The 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).
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. 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 15 rated as likely to pass, 17 likely to pass with conditions, and 1 likely to fail.
Ocean Outcomes 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 spawning escapement data for odd-year pink salmon.
Pink salmon have a distinct two-year life cycle which means that odd- and even-year stocks are essentially different populations.Read More
In Western Kamchatka, even-year pink salmon returns are typically much larger than odd-year returns. During the pre-assessment, an escapement goal was provided for even-year pink salmon in Western Kamchatka but not for odd-year pink salmon. It was not clear whether the management agency actively manages the fishery for pink salmon during odd-years. Documentation of target reference points and spawning escapements are needed to determine stock status. We recommend the following approach:
Provide available pink salmon escapement data for each of the rivers over the past 15 years.
- If escapements have been trending down in odd years, conduct an analysis to determine the minimum level of escapement necessary for the long-term productivity of the population.
Goal 1.2: Provide justification for escapement goals for chum and coho salmon.
Region-wide escapement goals were provided for Western Kamchatka coho and chum salmon during the pre-assessment.Read More
However, it was unclear why region-wide goals were appropriate, rather than river-specific goals. The clients included coho salmon returning to the Kol River in the MSC assessment but not those returning to other rivers. More information is needed to determine whether region-wide escapement goals are appropriate for these species. We recommend the following approach:
Clarify what the escapement target is for chum salmon and explain why it is appropriate.
- Clarify what the escapement target is for coho salmon in the Kol River and explain why it is appropriate.
Goal 1.3: Provide evidence to demonstrate that salmon stocks are healthy.
Very little salmon escapement data was provided during the pre-assessment.Read More
More information is needed to demonstrate that the stocks are not being overfished. We recommend the following action:
- Provide escapement data for each species relative to the specified escapement goal over the past 15 years.
Goal 1.4: Demonstrate that the management system is effective at achieving management objectives.
The current harvest strategy has been in place only since 2010 and has not been fully tested under a wide range of conditions.Read More
Evidence showing that the harvest strategy is achieving its objectives was not provided. We recommend the following actions:
Describe in-season fishery management actions taken to meet management targets in the areas adjacent to the Ozernaya, Koshegochek, Golygina, Opala, Kol and Vorovskaya rivers during the past two years.
Provide catch volumes of salmon and char, by year, species and fishing location (river or parcel) by Vityaz Avto and Delta for the past 15 years.
- Provide a table comparing the total catch quota for each species in the Ozernaya, Koshegochek, Golygina, Opala, Kol and Vorovskaya rivers over the past two years, with the total commercial catch in those areas.
Goal 1.5: 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.Read More
In addition, harvest data for these stocks in other fisheries (including the high seas driftnet fishery and illegal poaching fishery) were incomplete or not provided. This information is needed to assess exploitation rates and productivity of local stocks, and we recommend the following approach:
Provide quantitative annual estimates of the illegal harvest by species in western Kamchatka from 2005 to present.
- Provide sport and indigenous fishery catches by species and year for the Ozernaya, Koshegochek, Golygina, Opala, Kol and Vorovskaya rivers.
Goal 1.6: Demonstrate that the stock status assessment takes uncertainty into account.
Stock status assessments are subject to substantial uncertainty because evaluation of overall health of major stocks is based on fish abundance data collected at limited times in limited index areas.Read More
Standardized aerial escapement surveys have been much reduced over the years due to budget limitations, and current survey effort may not be adequate for avoiding significant imprecision or bias in escapement estimates due to abnormal run timing or fish distribution. An analysis is needed to evaluate the effect of reduced monitoring effort on the stock assessment program, and we recommend the following approach:
Provide an analysis on the effect of reduced escapement monitoring on the level of uncertainty in stock assessment programs.
- Describe how stock assessments account for identified uncertainties in data sources (e.g. environmental variability, errors in catch and escapement reporting, etc.).
Goal 2.1: Provide information to demonstrate that char, sockeye and coho stocks are within biologically based limits.
The limited information provided on sockeye and coho salmon and char during the pre-assessment was insufficient to evaluate the stock status of these species.Read More
However, data on all retained species are supposed to be collected according to fishery regulations. We recommend the following actions:
Provide catch data (for all companies) on char, sockeye and coho by species and river for the past 15 years.
Provide escapement data on sockeye and coho salmon by river for the past 15 years.
Provide escapement targets for sockeye and coho.
Provide fishery-independent information on char abundances that show population trends over time.
Goal 2.2: Describe the management strategy used to maintain char, sockeye and coho stocks within biologically based limits.
It was unclear from the information provided during the pre-assessment how fishery management prevents overfishing of sockeye salmon, coho salmon and char stocks.Read More
More information is needed to demonstrate that these stocks receive adequate protection. We recommend the following actions:
Describe the fishery management strategy for ensuring sockeye salmon, coho salmon, and char species are not overfished and explain why this strategy is expected to be successful.
- Provide some evidence that the strategy is successful at maintaining these species within biological limits.
Goal 2.3: Demonstrate there is adequate information collected on char populations to support the management strategy.
Other than limited catch data, it was unclear what information on char stocks is collected to assess the impact of the fishery on these populations.Read More
We recommend the following action:
- Describe the information used to monitor fishery impacts on char species and explain how this information is sufficient to detect an increase in risk to char populations.
Goal 2.4: Demonstrate that the fishery does not hinder recovery of Chinook salmon stocks.
Chinook salmon stocks are considered depleted in Western Kamchatka, and commercial fishing for them has been banned since 2010.Read More
Any Chinook caught in the fishery may not be retained; however no information was provided on the number of Chinook salmon incidentally caught in this fishery. More information is needed to evaluate the incidental mortality of Chinook salmon in the fishery. We recommend the following action:
Develop and implement an observer program to independently verify that the fishery is minimizing mortality of Chinook salmon.
- Provide information on the number of Chinook salmon incidentally caught in the commercial fishery. Provide information on the expected survival of Chinook salmon incidentally caught and released in the fishery.
Goal 2.5: Demonstrate that the management strategy to protect ETP species is effective.
The main ETP species encountered in this area are anadromous Kamchatka steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus).Read More
Both species are listed in the Russia’s Red Book, and harvest/hunting is prohibited. Kamchatka steelhead (anadromous rainbow trout) enter rivers from September through November, later than the main fishing season for Pacific salmon. Incidental catches may therefore be minimal, although no supporting data were provided. Marine mammals and sea eagles are also present. These species can easily avoid fishing gear but are considered a nuisance, and anecdotal information suggests they are sometimes shot by fishermen. 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). Evidence of successful strategy implementation is needed for both steelhead and Steller sea lions. We recommend the following actions:
Develop and implement an independent monitoring program to verify that the fishery is minimizing mortality of ETP species.
- Provide evidence showing that Kamchatka steelhead and Steller sea lions are not killed by the fishery (e.g. provide logs or observer records of fishery encounters with these species).
Goal 3.1: Demonstrate that the fishery has short and long term objectives.
Quota setting procedures show there is a short-term objective of maintaining adequate spawning escapement, and the presence of long-term objectives is supported by ongoing salmon research.Read More
However, explicit objectives have not yet been provided. We recommend the following approach:
- Provide documentation of explicit short and long term fishery management objectives consistent with MSC Principles 1 and 2.
Goal 3.2: Demonstrate that the management system is accountable and transparent.
Some information on fishery performance and management action is available on requestbut is not readily accessible in a timely manner.Read More
It is also unclear whether explanations are given for any management action or lack of action taken with regard to relevant fishery recommendations emerging from research, monitoring evaluation and review activity. We recommend the following approach:
- Provide evidence that information on fishery performance and management actions is available to interested stakeholders and describe how the management system responds to relevant scientific findings and recommendations.
Goal 3.3: Implement monitoring and enforcement programs that are effective and will ensure compliance with fishing regulations.
The fishery is monitored by the state fisheries inspection body, but criminal poaching is a major problem.Read More
Recent fishery management reforms have apparently reduced illegal harvest, but documentation of improvement is lacking because poaching data were provided only through 2006. We recommend the following approach:
Develop and implement a digital catch reporting system to minimize the potential risk of illegal catch mixing with the legal catch.
Monitor local rivers to ensure illegal poaching is effectively controlled.
- Describe the penalties used for non-compliance with fishery regulations, and provide independent evidence that commercial fishing companies consistently comply with regulations.
Goal 3.4: Ensure that research and monitoring results are disseminated in a timely fashion.
The Vorovskaya, Kohl, Opala, and Ozernaya rivers have been monitored for an extended time, and biological sampling of salmon occurs periodically.Read More
Descriptions of some research projects were provided. Plans for dissemination of research results are unclear. However, it has been very difficult to obtain salmon escapement data, suggesting that results are not available to interested parties. To improve data accessibility and increase transparency, we recommend the following action:
- Work with fishery management agencies to obtain relevant research and monitoring results and make them publicly available.
Goal 3.5: Demonstrate that the fishery management system is subject to internal and external review.
Different government organizations interact to review forecasts of allowable catch and fishery management performance.Read More
However, It was unclear from the information provided during the pre-assessment whether there is any sort of formalized process for internal and external review. To address this issue, we recommend the following action:
- Provide evidence that the management system is subject to regular internal and occasional external review.