In addition to the newly announced FIPs for Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island, there are a variety of ongoing sustainability assessment and certification efforts underway in these and other regions. These are summarized below to provide a broader picture of the status of these efforts and potential opportunities for additional fishery improvement projects to enhance performance. Go to the Salmon FIP Tracker for more information on the status of specific improvement efforts underway in many of these fisheries.
While Japan accounts for nearly a quarter of the Pacific Rim's annual salmon harvest, commercial chum and pink fisheries rely almost entirely on hatchery production because of the extensive loss of freshwater habitat that has occurred in Japan over time. However, certain regions are beginning to review and change their management policies for wild salmon.
Hokkaido Fall chum salmon
Northern Hokkaido fisheries managers in the Kitami region are developing a Wild Salmon Policy and working on setting escapement goals for wild chum. This would represent a fundamental shift in the way chum salmon are managed in Japan. The Hokkaido Fall chum salmon set net fishery entered the full Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment process in early 2012, but a number of assessment issues prevented it from achieving a certified status. This fishery has excellent opportunities to address existing performance issues via a FIP. The Kitami regional chum harvest accounts for about 71,000 metric tonnes annually, or about 45% of Hokkaido’s total commercial chum harvest.
The largely pristine rivers and Pacific coastlines of the Russian Far East produce diverse and abundant runs of wild salmon, including sockeye, pink, chum, Chinook and coho. Russia accounts for nearly 35% of the global commercial catch of Pacific salmon. Sustainability assessments, certifications and fishery improvement projects started occurring since about 2008 and the announcement of the Sakhalin and Kamchatka regional FIP ‘umbrellas’ marks new efforts and opportunities to expand fishery improvement activities in this important geography. Current Russian Far East fishery projects and additional information on project status can be found in the Salmon FIP Tracker.
United States - Alaska
Alaska accounts for almost 40% of the total commercial Pacific salmon harvest worldwide and is a wellspring of wild Pacific salmon abundance. The region’s salmon fisheries are managed by the State of Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), with the exception of the Annette Islands Reserve of the Metlakatla Indian Community.
Alaska salmon commercial fisheries managed by ADF&G first received MSC certification in 2000. These fisheries were re-certified in November 2007 for another 5-year period. The assessment covered 16 units of certification, representing five species and more than 400 salmon management units spread over the entire state of Alaska. The Public Certification Report listed 69 conditions for continued certification. As of the fourth annual audit, completed in September 2011, 19 conditions still remained unmet. Although a second reassessment for Alaska salmon was initiated in late 2011, a number of major processors withdrew their support and funding for it in early 2012. In April 2012, the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association (PSVOA) stepped forward to serve as the client and began a new assessment. The public certification report was released in November 2013, after an objection was dismissed by an independent adjudicator. All regions except for Prince William Sound (PWS) were certified, with PWS being placed on a separate assessment schedule, subject to further review, apparently due to a number of assessment issues. Five conditions for PWS remain unmet and open from the 2007 MSC certification. Six conditions of certification have been identified for the Alaska salmon fisheries certified in 2013. The availability of MSC certified salmon from these fisheries is affected by the number of companies participating in the assessment who chose to get MSC chain of custody.
Annette Islands Reserve Salmon
The Annette Islands Reserve salmon fishery, located in Southeast Alaska, received MSC certification for all species except sockeye in June 2011 with 22 conditions of certification. The salmon fisheries in the Annette Islands Reserve are managed by the governing Council of the Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC), with advice from the U.S Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Because the fisheries are not managed by ADF&G, they were not included in the original certification of Alaska salmon under the MSC scheme. Harvest is primarily conducted by purse seine and drift gillnets and by power and hand troll to a lesser degree. The Annette Islands Reserve fishery landed an average of 25,000 metric tonnes from 2000-2012 for species that have been certified (pink, chum, Chinook and coho salmon).
Alaska (Global Trust)
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) sponsored an assessment of the Alaska salmon fishery based on ASMI’s Responsible Fisheries Management certification program, completed by Global Trust Certification in March 2011. Currently this is not an independent third-party sustainability certification, but rather has been described as a business-to-business certification that Alaskan commercial salmon fisheries are responsibly managed. The 2011 RFM certification identified no performance issues (non-conformances) for the fishery, but during the first annual audit in 2012, a minor non-conformance was raised regarding potential impacts of Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound large scale hatchery enhancement programs on wild stocks. A corrective action was accepted to address this non-conformity, essentially a 12-yr research study designed to collect more information about hatchery-wild interactions. The RFM scheme includes no provisions for conditions of certification to address fishery performance deficiencies.
While Canadian commercial salmon harvest comprises less than 5% of global Pacific salmon catch, salmon populations produced in the rivers of Canada’s Pacific and Arctic coastal regions represent a critical biodiversity storehouse for sockeye, pink, chum, Chinook and coho salmon. Many stocks of these species have experienced variable and low returns in recent years, but sustainability assessment and certification efforts have been very active in the British Columbia (B.C.) province for sockeye, pink, and chum salmon. Opportunity for additional fishery improvement and certification projects are available for B.C. Chinook and coho salmon, but the harvest volumes in these fisheries are relatively small, and challenging mixed stock fishery issues impacting weak populations would need to be resolved.
B.C. sockeye salmon
Following a lengthy assessment and objection process for British Columbia sockeye salmon, four sockeye certification units (Skeena watershed, Nass watershed, Barkley Sound, and Fraser River watershed) received MSC certification in July 2010. The MSC certification is valid for a period of five years providing 45 conditions listed in the public certification report are met. Catches for certified sockeye salmon fisheries averaged 7,000 metric tonnes from 1996-2012.
B.C. pink salmon
In July 2011, the British Columbia pink salmon fishery received MSC certification with 22 conditions. Catches for certified pink salmon fisheries averaged 8,000 metric tonnes from 1996-2012.
B.C. chum salmon
The British Columbia chum salmon fishery entered the MSC full assessment process in January 2008. In January 2013 the Fraser, Inner South Coast and West Coast Vancouver Island chum salmon certification units were certified as sustainable under the MSC system with 15 conditions of certification. The North and Central Coast BC chum certification unit remained in the assessment process without moving to a certified status. Catches for certified fisheries averaged 4,000 metric tonnes from 1996-2012.
United States - Pacific Northwest
Wild salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California) are at a fraction of their historic abundance due to the collective impacts of habitat loss, hydroelectric development, competing land and water uses, harvest and hatchery impacts. As a result many are listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Although there are still commercial fisheries of importance at a regional scale, the Pacific Northwest accounts for less than 2% of the global commercial harvest of Pacific salmon. Serious impediments exist to pursue fishery sustainability projects at the scale of other major salmon producing regions, but individual FIP opportunities do exist at a smaller, demonstration-level scale.