This proposal involves genetic analysis of tissue samples anticipated from the in-river commercial sockeye fishery on the Taku River. This activity was first supported by the Northern Fund in 2008 and makes use of the baseline samples collected with Northern Fund assistance from 2007-12.
This will identify the composition of the commercial harvest by stock groupings. In addition, when coupled with escapement counts from headwater counting fences (weirs), it will permit estimation of drainage-wide abundance for comparison with the mark-recapture estimate or other assessment methodology.
We propose to analyze DNA (scales) data collected from Sockeye Salmon at the Nass fishwheels to:
1) compare genetic stock composition results with aggregate mark-recapture population estimates;
2) assess differences between aggregate and observed run size estimates for Meziadin and non-Meziadin spawners;
3) evaluate the returns of the Kwinageese stock that is recovering from a spawning migration barrier detected and remediated in 2011 and subsequently had poor returns;
4) develop a data set for substock harvest rate analyses for Nass Sockeye; and
5) support a radio telemetry study.
The information generated from this study will benefit Pacific Salmon and Nisga’a Treaties in guiding future fisheries that harvest Nass Sockeye Salmon, making escapement goals each year, maximize protection of Nass Sockeye stocks, and optimize production of returns for the future.
The Nass Area Coastal Coho Escapement Project will improve escapement data and further enable fishery managers to more accurately estimate harvests of this important species in commercial, recreational, and First Nation fisheries. The data will also improve the quality of information available to inform management decisions and aid in the sustainability of Nass Area Coho stocks in the future. This will be become increasingly important as industrial pressures within the marine areas of the Nass Area continue to mount due to mining, hydro-electricity, port development at Stewart, shipping, and pipelines. Improving our understanding of the abundance for Nass Area Coastal Coho stocks is imperative for understanding and mitigating the potential effects of these development pressures on Nass Area Coastal Coho.
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.
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.
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.
Southern Chum stock strength must be monitored to facilitate their management, in accordance with Annex IV, Chapter 6 of the Pacific Salmon Treaty (Treaty). Catch composition in fisheries targeting Southern origin Chum populations informs managers of stock strength, mixed fishery components and exploitation rates. . We are proposing to sample Southern BC and US mixed stock Chum fisheries to determine stock composition to the levels of Canadian Conservation Unit (CU) and United States Management Unit (MU) level using genetic mixed stock analysis. Along with other stock assessment information, such as escapement, the data provided from this work is a critical component required by the ChumGEM model for run-reconstruction and eventually for forecasting run strength. This proposal follows from a previous Southern Fund project ‘Joint US and CA mixed-stock Chum fisheries sampling design’ which occurred 2012-2015. The goal is to assess the mixed stock Chum fisheries for four consecutive years in a multi-agency sampling effort.
Chinook salmon are harvested in commercial fisheries in Southeast Alaska (SEAK) waters east of Cape Suckling and north of Dixon Entrance. These fisheries harvest mixed stocks of Chinook salmon, including those originating from Alaska, British Columbia, and the Pacific Northwest. Significant numbers of both hatchery and wild stock Chinook salmon have coded-wire-tags (CWTs) inserted into their heads before they are released from hatcheries or as they migrate to sea. These fish are marked externally by removal of the adipose fin. CWTs are recovered by sampling programs intended to sample a minimum proportion of fishery catches and escapements. Analyses of CWT data provide estimates of fishery exploitation rates and other statistics employed for stock/fishery assessments and planning.
The Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) technical committees rely upon selected groups of CWT hatchery and wild Chinook and coho as surrogates to estimate impacts on natural stocks. Recent trends in Pacific Northwest towards mass-marking of Chinook salmon smolts released from hatcheries in conjunction with increased hatchery production up to 150 million smolts annually have resulted in a large volume of adipose fin clipped Chinook salmon in SEAK fisheries that do not contain a CWT (No Tags).
The presence of No Tags exceeded 70% of the adipose-clipped fish sampled during the SEAK summer troll fishery in 2015. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) commercial fisheries port samplers have utilized visual sampling of these adipose clipped fish to recover CWTs for over three decades. The escalating presence of No Tags in SEAK fisheries has impacted CWT sample rates by statistical week and area. Although most SEAK Commercial Fisheries port samplers are using electronic tag detection wands to determine if a tag is actually present in the head of adipose fin clipped fish; the No Tag rate is so high that it requires two samplers per sampling event to be efficient at examining adipose clipped Chinook salmon harvested in the SEAK troll fisheries to determine if valid CWTs are present before CWT processing protocols are invoked.
In an effort to increase or maintain CWT sample rates and decrease shipping costs we propose to continue funding port sampling staff in the ports of Craig, Juneau, Pelican, Wrangell, Petersburg, Ketchikan, and Sitka. Southeast Alaska port samplers will use electronic tag detection wands to examine adipose clipped Chinook salmon harvested in the summer Southeast Alaska troll fisheries to determine if valid CWTs are present before CWT processing protocols are invoked. The heads of any positively identified tagged fish will be collected and the tags decoded by ADF&G staff. This will increase sampling rates by decreasing the amount of fish heads to be organised and shipped.
The Kitwanga River is a tributary of the Skeena River, located 250 km from the coast and supports significant runs of Pacific salmon. Kitwanga sockeye are genetically unique and a distinct conservation unit as described under Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy. Historically, sockeye returns to the Kitwanga were in the tens of thousands and they supported a number of sustenance and economic fisheries. In more recent times the stock has been depressed and in many years returns are not enough to meet the minimum biological requirements for the stock. In response to this conservation concern the Gitanyow, with help from organizations like the Pacific Salmon Commission and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, have initiated a rebuilding plan to preserve the genetic uniqueness of the stock and to try and rebuild it to more historical levels. Rebuilding efforts have included the creation of spawning platforms in 2006 and 2007 in Gitanyow Lake, the enhancement of the stock through hatchery production in 2006 & 2007 and a reduction in the overall exploitation rate on the stock through the implementation of strict fisheries management guidelines. The results of the rebuilding efforts have been mixed as the stock has responded positively in some year classes but not in others. To date, millions of dollars have been spent to rebuild the stock and many more millions of dollars have been foregone in lost revenues in the Canadian commercial catch, in efforts to get more spawners back to the Kitwanga River and Gitanyow Lake.
Since 1999, the GFA in partnership with DFO and other organizations have been studying Kitwanga sockeye and Gitanyow Lake in an attempt to better understand the stock and the environment where they reside. Annual smolt and adult enumeration operations have been ongoing for over 10 years, while Gitanyow Lake studies were performed between 1999 and 2003. Lake studies were abandoned due to funding constraints and because it was found that freshwater smolt production from the system at that time was very high and the lake limnology was not likely impacting smolt production. However, since that time we have noticed a significant decrease in freshwater smolt production which has renewed the need to look at the lake biology in more detail.
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. 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.