The goal of the project is to estimate the spawning escapement of the Fraser River – South Thompson age 0.3 aggregate (ST0.3A Chinook). The ST0.3A escapement will be estimated using Coded Wire Tags (CWT), Genetic Stock Identification (GSI), and CWT exploitation rate indicator stock data from escapement and Fraser River fisheries. To achieve this objective, we will increase recovery of CWTs from Chinook carcasses in the Lower Shuswap River; conduct a high-precision mark-recapture project and CWT sampling in the Middle Shuswap River; collect age samples across the South Thompson watershed; produce a CWT release group of Middle Shuswap River smolts (to augment the Lower Shuswap indicator stock); and analyze GSI and age data from the Albion Test Fishery.
N18-VHP16 Estimation of 2015 – 2018 Escapements of the South Thompson 0.3 Chinook Aggregate using a Bayesian Model that Combines Data on CWT Recoveries and GSI_Report Title Page
Alaska stocks of pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) spend large portions of their life histories in marine waters within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and beyond the 200-mile EEZ of the coastal States. However, the strength of salmon year-classes is often set during the early overwintering phases of immatures or during the nearshore seaward migration phase of juveniles. Thus, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC), Auke Bay Laboratories (ABL) initiated the Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring (SECM) project in 1997 to better understand the effects of climate and near-shore Ocean conditions on year-class strength of salmon and ecologically-related species. This research in turn provides improved information for resource management of salmon in the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) northern boundary. In particular SECM data provides a forecast index for northern southeast Alaska (SEAK) Transboundary River Chinook salmon returns, an annual pink salmon abundance forecast, and long term environmental and population data that are used by harvest managers in the PST northern boundary, which includes PST Chapter 2 pink salmon treaty issues in districts 101, 102, 103, and 104.
N19-I14A SEAK Coastal Monitoring of Epipelagic Fish and Marine Ecosystem Conditions Associated with Salmon: Continuation of a Long-term Data Series in a Changing Climate 2019 Report
The overall project is being utilized to restore sockeye production to higher levels while taking advantage of apparent underutilized rearing capacity in the lake.
Overall, it appears that substantial progress has been made with the King Salmon Lake enhancement program to date. In this regard, there appears to be opportunity to continue this initiative, moving it from experimental in nature towards practical application based upon positive results observed thus far.
N18-E03 King Salmon Lake sockeye enhancement Report
The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project leverages human and financial resources from the United States and Canada to determine the primary factors affecting the survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Salish Sea. It is the largest and most important research of its kind in the shared waters of British Columbia and Washington State, addressing a key uncertainty impeding salmon recovery and sustainable fisheries. The project will, for the first time, undertake a comprehensive study of the physical, chemical and biological factors impacting salmon survival, in order to improve our collective understanding of salmon in saltwater, facilitating smarter management and stronger returns.
Over 60 organizations, representing diverse philosophies and encompassing most of the region’s fisheries and marine research and management complex, are working together on this massive transboundary effort. And, the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) and Long Live the Kings (LLTK) are coordinating it.
Chinook salmon in the Stikine River comprise one of over 50 indicator stocks included in annual assessments by the Chinook Technical Committee of the Pacific Salmon Commission to determine stock status, effects of management regimes, and other requirements of the Pacific Salmon Treaty (Der Hovanisian and Etherton 2006). The Stikine River is one of the largest producers of Chinook salmon in Northern B.C. and Southeast Alaska (Der Hovanisian and Etherton 2006).
Stikine Chinook aerial surveys provide Chinook counts from index sites in both the upper (Little Tahltan, Tahltan, and Beatty) and lower reaches (Christina and Verrett) of the Stikine River which loosely corresponds to DFO’s Wild Salmon Policy prescribed conservation units (stocks), in concert with augmenting the current Little Tahltan weir, and providing some measure of validation of the system wide mark-recapture based escapement estimates.
N18-VHP06 Stikine River Chinook Aerial Surveys Report 2018
Concern for West Coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) 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.
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.
S18-VHP11 Spawning escapements and origin of Chinook salmon at Burman River Report 2018
The Skeena River is host to the second largest aggregate of Chinook salmon in British Columbia. While the aggregate is a PSC escapement indicator stock, there are no biologically based escapement goals for this population. This project provides an annual escapement estimate for the aggregate as well as for the large component stocks. The estimate produced is comparable with the historic estimates produced using an estimate of variance. The Tyee Test fishery, which has been conducted since 1955, provides data such as age information that is matched to the genetic information. The combination of stock specific escapements with age composition forms the basis for escapement goals and benchmarks.
The Kitsumkalum River hosts one of the major Chinook populations in the Skeena watershed, and is a PSC exploitation rate indicator stock. The mark-recapture estimate produced in in a separate project forms the cornerstone for the expansions of the stock compositions observed at the Tyee Test fishery.
The project consists of genetic analyses of samples from Chinook salmon caught at the Tyee Test fishery, and escapement data from the Kitsumkalum mark-recapture program. Chinook salmon scale samples will be collected from the Tyee Test Fishery and the DNA from the samples will be compared against genetic baselines from Skeena Chinook salmon populations. The proportion identified as Kitsumkalum Chinook will be expanded to generate escapement estimates for the Skeena River aggregate using the mark-recapture estimate of escapement for the Kitsumkalum population.
N20-I34 Chinook Salmon Escapement Estimation to the Skeena River Using Genetic Techniques 2020 IN PROGRESS
Historically, the chum escapement in the Ecstall was believed to represent between 50 and 75% of the total reported for the Skeena–the Ecstall River is considered the largest chum spawning system in the Skeena watershed and has been identified as a priority for enumeration. However, following 2002 there was an almost 10-year gap in escapement estimates for Ecstall chum, and recent estimates indicate a decline. As such, Skeena chum are currently a stock of concern and lack the stock assessment data necessary to monitor trends in spawning abundance. Management actions aimed to reduce exploitation of Skeena chum have been initiated in recent years, but these also act as a constraint on August fisheries in the Skeena River.
Opportunities for visual chum escapement enumerations in the lower Skeena chum spawning areas (mainstem slough and lower river glacial tributaries) are often constrained by poor visibility. As a consequence, the success of aerial surveys of the Ecstall has been intermittent. An improved annual estimate for Ecstall chum would greatly increase the confidence in the Skeena chum escapement estimations and allow better monitoring of future trends of this stock of concern.
Therefore, the objective of this project is to find the most reliable and consistent index of escapement for Ecstall chum. This project evaluated whether ground surveys and/or a mark recapture program are feasible as a more consistent alternative to aerial surveys.
N16-I11 Ecstall River Chum Escapement Report 2016. Year 4 of 4
A sockeye enhancement program has been ongoing at Tatsamenie Lake since 1990. A review of the program was funded by the Northern Fund in 2005, and in 2008, the Northern Fund began supporting the Extended Sockeye Fry Rearing Project.
The fry were originally reared in lake pens, but because of a devastating disease outbreak, the project shifted to onshore rearing systems beginning in 2009. The egg to smolt survivals of the fed fry have been variable but have ranged from 10% to 70%, or 5 to 15 times compared to wild fry, depending on fry behaviour after outplanting. Assessment of adult production from this project is ongoing. Smolt to adult survivals of the reared fry will be definitively determined with the return of the corresponding adults in the coming years, but to date, the adult production from reared fry has been lower than expected. This project continues to test a technique that has the potential of increasing production for other small scale sockeye salmon enhancement projects as well as rebuilding the Tatsamenie Lake sockeye stock in low brood year cycles.
Also at Tatsamenie Lake, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans began a smolt enumeration program in 1996, and this ran continuously from 1998 through to 2011. The Northern Fund began supporting this program in 2012, and the two programs were combined in 2015. The combination allowed the Tatsamenie Lake sockeye smolt mark-recapture project to extend beyond its previous end date of June 30, through to the second week of September. This provides a more accurate smolt population estimate as well as increased precision of the estimated enhanced sockeye survival and production. This also allows for monitoring of potential early out-migration of the reared fry.
N19-E02 Tatsamenie Lake Sockeye Fry Rearing and Smolt Projects 2019 Report
Since 2007, with support from the Southern Boundary Restoration and Enhancement Fund, calibration work has been conducted on twenty-five Sockeye populations of various stream types in the Fraser and has led to the development of indices for aerially surveyed Sockeye populations on the following three stream types: i) medium sized, clear streams, ii) medium sized, partially turbid/tannic streams and iii) large sized, clear streams. Although this represents substantial progress, significant gaps still exist on the remaining stream types and lake spawning populations. Calibration work involves the comparison between estimates generated using high precision enumeration techniques (enumeration fences, sonar, and/or mark-recapture programs) and those generated using standard low precision visual techniques. As annual calibration opportunities on target populations are limited, calibration work over the long term will be required to satisfy the data requirements for all stream types. The actual populations to be calibrated will be determined based on in-season estimates of abundance.
S18-FRP03 Calibration of Visual Assessment Methods for Fraser River Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)