All posts by Angus Mackay

Mark Recovery Program Coded Wire Tag Sampling, Dissection and Reporting

This project is one component of the Coast Wide CWT System which includes fully integrated CWT tagging, sampling, lab operations, analyses and data exchange along the entire west coast of North America with a high level of coordination and cooperation among the coastal states and Canada across many political jurisdictions. The funding supports fishery CWT sampling from Commercial, First Nations economic, and recreational fisheries in BC that encounter Chinook indicator stocks, as well as head lab operations and the management of resulting data.

CWT data is essential in annual analyses in deriving Canadian and US allotments of chinook total allowable catch, assessing compliance under the PST, calculating fisheries and stock specific statistics (i.e. exploitation rates, survival rates, maturation rates), monitoring trends in marine survival, assessing fishing impacts, forecasting pre-fishery ocean stock abundances, and evaluating the effectiveness of hatchery production and experimental programs. This project will benefit and contribute to PST implementation, the management of US and Canadian stocks for optimal production, improved stock status assessments, and management of the runs to fulfill the terms of the negotiated regimes. CWT data is also important for assessing stock status, forecasting stock abundance, and monitoring trends in regional survival patterns for climate change investigations and ecosystem-based assessments. Long-term time series of CWT data is key information to discern variations in salmon abundance resulting from variations in ocean survival and human-induced impacts.

Juan de Fuca Strait Chum Sampling Program. DFO Portion. Year 1 of 4

The Chum Technical Committee (TCChum), in consideration of the requirements of the latest version of Annex IV, Chapter 6 (Chum Annex) of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, has determined that a significant amount of stock assessment work should be undertaken by the parties, in order to provide the level of information necessary for the successful implementation of the Annex. Part of implementing the strategic plan (Figure 1), the TCChum submitted various proposals over the last few years to target key components of the plan. In 2014 the first phase of the Chum Genetic and Environmental Management model (ChumGEM) was initiated to develop a run reconstruction model for Southern BC and Washington Chum salmon.

Through the initial work on ChumGEM, it was very apparent that the diversion of chum salmon stocks through the southern route (Strait of Juan de Fuca) was a significant gap in our information needed to populate the model. Currently the model structure is available to incorporate this information, but we are making assumptions on the migration pathways that require investigation and validation through this project.

The Southern Panel has identified the establishment of a chum sampling program for the Strait of Juan de Fuca as a top research priority for the next call for proposals through the Southern Endowment Fund for 2016.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Sampling Program:

With the goal of stock reconstruction for Southern BC and Washington Chum salmon, one significant data gap is the diversion of chum populations through the Southern Route via Juan de Fuca Strait. This project will work towards addressing that data gap by sampling this migration route in both US and Canadian waters to determine:

  • The spatial and temporal stock composition of chum salmon migrating through the Southern Diversion route,
  • Provide sampling platform for stock identification, migration rate studies etc.
  • Develop time series of Catch per Unit effort data to pair with the Johnstone Strait Test Fishery to determine diversion rate of various chum populations.

This multi-year program will be broken into 2 phases. Phase 1 will involve assessing the feasibility of a structured sampling program (2016) in Juan de Fuca Strait (Canadian Area 20 and US Area 5). This will involve chartering a Purse Seine vessel to fish 4 days/week starting the 1st week of October for 5 weeks. Catch per Unit Effort information will be collected as well as biological samples for stock identification purposes. All fish will be released except for the 400 samples/week (a total of 2,000 chum) that will be collected during the program. Phase 2, dependent upon the 1st year of the program, will expand the sampling program to include a tagging component to evaluate the migration rates of chum salmon via migration route which is a key parameter in the reconstruction model (2017-2019).

Increased Chinook Salmon Stock Coded-Wire Tagging to Improve the Quality of Chinook Indicator Stock Analyses

We propose to maintain increased coded-wire tagging (CWT) for nine Chinook indicator stocks in B.C. that contribute to Northern and Southern Boundary Area fisheries. This proposal will fund incremental tagging beyond the base level provided by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in order to meet standards derived by the PSC CWT work group to account for survival rate, fishery sampling rate, exploitation rate, and an 80% probability of attaining a minimum standard of observed CWT recoveries. This work has been funded through the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) Coded Wire Tag Improvement Fund from 2009-2013, and the PSC Northern Endowment Fund and as a Very High Priority Chinook project in 2014-2016. This project proposes to maintain the increased tagging rates on the highest priority indicator stocks through to 2018, until which time CWTs will be the primary fishery assessment tool for Chinook salmon. This proposal addresses several priorities for implementation of the PST and will improve the ability to better manage the Chinook stocks and fisheries of relevance to the PST.

This proposal is for stocks providing the majority of benefits, based on total fishing mortality distribution, to Northern and Southern Boundary Area fisheries. This proposal addresses nine stock groups represented by CWT indicator programs on Robertson (WCVI), Quinsam (Upper Georgia Strait), Lower Shuswap and Nicola (Fraser Early), Atnarko (Central Coast), Kitsumkalum (North Coast), Harrison and Chilliwack (Fraser Late), and Cowichan (lower Georgia Strait) populations. When these stocks are healthy and abundant they can be large contributors to Southeast Alaska (SEAK), Northern British Columbia (NBC) and West Coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) fisheries.

Yukon River Chinook Salmon Stock Restoration Community Technical Team

Interest in salmon stock and habitat restoration within the Yukon Territory has increased amid significant declines in Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook over the past 15 years. The Yukon River Panel has also made Stock Restoration a priority with an expanded focus between 2016 and 2019.
Yukon First Nations and Canadian stakeholders are both leaders and potential partners that could support efforts to actively engage in the restoration of Yukon River Chinook salmon stocks in Canada. However, it is recognized that in order to undertake effective and appropriate stock restoration initiatives, there must be community support and the willingness and ability for salmon stakeholders to understand and play a role in the implementation of the stock restoration initiative. It is also essential that any proposed restoration action must be based on a plan that encompasses sound biological, technical and local/traditional knowledge parameters. The Yukon River Chinook Salmon Stock Restoration Community Technical Team provides this higher-level, drainage wide direction while working towards the implementation of strategic and specific stock restoration initiatives throughout the Yukon River drainage.
The two overarching goals of this multi-year project are to (1) support the development of a stock restoration framework based on community values, which can be used to help develop, evaluate and prioritize Chinook stock restoration initiatives in the Canadian portion of the Yukon River and (2) provide technical support and capacity building at the First Nation and community level for the implementation of priority stock restoration activities.





Babine River Sockeye Migration and Predation Assessment

Lake Babine Nation Fisheries (LBNF) plans to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to continue the investigation of the behaviour and ecology of Babine River sockeye fry. The proposed project is composed of four relatively discrete components which include:

  1. early life history behaviour and migration;
  2. extent and rate of predation on juvenile sockeye;
  3. egg-to-fry and fry-to-smolt survival, frequency of occurrence of disease and parasites and condition as a function of length and weight; and
  4. presence and behaviour of sockeye fry rearing in downstream slow water habitats to obtain evidence of a riverine juvenile sockeye ecotype.

Other observed adverse effects that may affect sockeye fry survival and overall sockeye production will be documented. These studies are intended to address the diminished abundance of Late Run Upper and Lower Babine River sockeye in their juvenile freshwater environment.


Collection of local tide and current data to explain variability in marine catch data and improve daily abundance and run size estimates of Fraser River Sockeye and Pink salmon

The assessment of the daily abundance of Fraser River Sockeye and Pink salmon are based on hydro-acoustic data collected at Mission. Marine test fishing catches are used as early indicators of relative abundances in marine areas, but need to be extrapolated using an expansion line (1/catchability) to derive abundance estimates, but because of the high variability in marine test fishing catchability and the uncertainty in the expansion line, the resulting abundance estimates will vary widely.
An important factor that impacts catchability is local tides and currents; however, it has not been possible to explain some of the variability in catchability data using published tide and current information, as it does not take into account the real-time localized tidal impact and currents on salmon migration behaviour at specific test fishing locations.
This project aims to collect local real-time tide and current information over three years and evaluate its usefulness to improve abundance estimates derived from marine test fishery data. The collection of these data will augment other test fishery data used to assess run sizes.


Genetic Stock Identification of Chinook Salmon Caught in Northern British Columbia Troll Fisheries

This project consists of the collection and analyses of genetic samples of Chinook salmon caught by the Northern British Columbia Troll fishery each season. The troll fishery typically has the largest annual catch of Chinook salmon in Northern British Columbia, and is managed within the aggregate abundance based management (AABM) regime described in the Pacific Salmon Treaty (1999). The Haida Gwaii (QCI) sport fishery is included within the regime. The sport fishery receives a priority allocation, but the troll fishery typically harvests more Chinook salmon than the sport fishery when operating in the absence of domestic constraints. Genetic samples of Northern BC Troll Chinook catch are a key component of Canada’s domestic fishery management to avoid stocks of concern. Genetic analyses of tissues collected from this fishery allow for estimates of stock specific impacts and comparison to coded wire tag estimates of stock contributions to this fishery. These data are useful to the assignment of Chinook mortalities for the purposes of specific stock management (e.g. WCVI Chinook or local concerns for Yakoun River or Kwinamass River Chinook) and for accounting of Nisga’a Treaty entitlements. The data are also used to generate escapement and terminal run size estimates for stocks or stock groups with representative coded wire tagged components.

Burman River Chinook Salmon Mark-Recapture

Concern for West Coast Vancouver Island (WVCI) natural Chinook currently limits PSC fisheries in Southeast Alaska, the Haida Gwaii recreational fishery and particularly the Area F troll fishery in northern British Columbia and troll fisheries and some recreational fisheries on the WCVI. Although the Burman River is enhanced, the population is of sufficient size to estimate the escapement with precision, and thermally marked otolith sampling provides an estimate of the naturally spawned fraction.
After an exploratory study in 2006, this program began as a 5-year project funded by the Sentinel Stocks Program, and now continues under Southern Endowment Funding. The program will estimate the escapement of adult Chinook salmon to the Burman River, a PSC Chinook escapement indicator, using both closed population and open population mark-recapture techniques refined between 2009-2014. The project will also quantify age, sex and origin compositions. Estimates of abundance of the thermally marked hatchery fraction combined with a precise escapement estimate will provide important information to verify and support the WCVI Aggregate ratio estimation project by providing an independent reference point (the Burman River Chinook hatchery fraction, independent of Robertson Creek Hatchery stock) in the northern WCVI area.









Trapper Lake Sockeye Enhancement/Sockeye Access Improvement 2016

Trapper Lake was identified as a potential sockeye salmon enhancement site in 1988 due to its under-utilized sockeye fry rearing potential. Several enhancement programs involving out-planted sockeye were attempted since, but were unsuccessful either due to out-plant and fish culture techniques or because of changes to the spawning and rearing habitat. It was observed that returning sockeye salmon from this enhancement program were nearly successful at negotiating a partial barrier near the outlet of Trapper Lake. This, coupled with the identified presence of non-anadromous sockeye (kokanee) suggested that Little Trapper Lake origin sockeye had negotiated the barrier in the past and may presently do so under certain water conditions. Improving the access for returning sockeye to Trapper Lake could result in a sustained increase in overall sockeye production from the Taku River.
The Enhancement Sub-Committee and the Transboundary Panel believes the project continues to have merit. Observation of returning adults to the barrier in 2011 and 2012 from the earlier fry out plants indicated it was technically achievable to allow salmon passage without elaborate or large scale modification to the barrier. Subsequent investigations have identified probable in-lake groundwater sources as well as groundwater fed springs at the south end of the lake. At the February 2014 and November 2015 meeting of the TTC there was renewed interest in the continued investigation of the identified spawning habitat and a general consensus the original project objectives should continue to be pursued.

Commercial Net Catch Recording System, Canadian Areas 3 to 6

This project will develop an industry based sales slip data entry system for Canadian statistical Area 3 to 6 salmon net fisheries. In 2013, Canada replaced their sales slip catch reporting system with a recording system based on vessel phone in and log book reporting. While there is a program of dockside monitoring to evaluate a subsample of actual landings compared to phone in / logbook data, there was no transition period where both programs were operated.
The new logbook system is fishermen-funded and imposes a significant cost. The intention in proposing this new system of industry sales slip entry is to replace the new phone in / logbook program after a period of successful parallel operation. The sales slip entry program would become industry-funded once it replaces the logbook program.
DFO fisheries management, stock assessment and enforcement staff have worked with industry to redesign the sales slip structure to better record data by subarea, and to monitor discard data. The inseason data entry would provide more timely inseason information for management, assessment and enforcement.
The sockeye catch information in the northern boundary area is a core information requirement for bilateral catch reconstruction and treaty annex accounting. This program would maintain or improve the quality of the gear- and subarea-specific core catch information.