Category: North Coast BC

Projects located in the Northern Coast of BC

Salmonscape Workshop: scoping a life history approach to assessing and modelling freshwater and marine bottlenecks to inform salmon management

We propose a workshop to review the current approaches to assessing and modelling salmon survival across freshwater/coastal and marine life history stages and to recommend options that will inform the host of management tools/processes that require consideration of the full life history. We will bring together experts possessing experience with these techniques to share their knowledge in a structured manner. Case studies drawn from Pacific Salmon Treaty stocks that have requisite information will be developed that can be used to test the modelling approach. A Workshop Technical Planning Team will be convened from North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission -International Year of the Salmon partner government agencies, NGO’s and academia to ensure relevance of the work to management and to assist in identifying a complete complement of experts. Experts will include representatives from Pacific Salmon Commission Secretariat staff and Technical Committees (Chinook, Coho, Chum and Sockeye). We will support travel for experts from Asia, Canada, Europe and the U.S. to attend. It will be essential for us to incorporate approaches to understanding freshwater and marine ecosystem status with Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, we will assess the potential for the development of new and emerging technologies and citizen science to augment this work.

Canadian independent review of District-104 fishery evaluation and Skeena and Nass sockeye salmon escapement goal analysis

Under Chapter 2 of the 2019 Pacific Salmon Treaty, Canada is required to conduct an analysis of escapement goals for sockeye salmon returning to the Skeena and Nass watersheds prior to the 2023 fishing season. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will complete a harvest pattern analysis of the pink salmon fishery in District 104 that evaluates long-term abundance trends for salmon stocks within the Northern Boundary area. The Treaty language states that these analyses (of Skeena and Nass sockeye escapement goals and District 104 pink salmon fishery) shall be reviewed by independent contractors selected by each country and then submitted to the Northern Boundary Technical Committee and Northern Panel for further review.

An initial draft of the harvest-pattern analysis for District 104 fisheries is near completion, and the Skeena and Nass sockeye salmon escapement goals analysis is underway. The Canadian escapement goal analysis will occur in two stages which include (1) a technical review of the alternative datasets for Skeena and Nass sockeye, and (2) estimation and evaluation of biological escapement goals for these populations.

Skeena River Chum Salmon Radio Telemetry

We propose to conduct a chum salmon radiotelemetry feasibility project on the Skeena River to evaluate if a fullscale Skeena chum salmon radiotelemetry would be beneficial, and to determine if enough chum salmon could be captured at sites along the lower Skeena River to provide a sufficient number of viable adult chum salmon to carry out a radio telemetry project of this scope in future years. If a fullscale radiotelemetry project is deemed worthwhile and feasible, and funding is provided, we will assess spawning distribution, relative abundances of the different Skeena chum stocks, migratory behavior, and evaluate if the development of an aggregate Skeena chum salmon escapement estimator using genetic tools is possible, and appropriate.

Escapement accounting of Nass watershed pink salmon

The quality of the information which is used to make Area 3 escapement estimates has decreased since 2010, especially on coastal systems and large contributors. While Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG) receives funding to do accurate and timely surveys of inland systems within Nisga’a territories (a portion of Area 3), Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) funding for the coverage of large indicators has decreased. Because of this, DFO and Nisga’a through a Joint Technical Committee are increasing our reliance on making large expansions that estimate returns to the Statistical Management Area or on inserting estimates for indicator systems based on regressions with surveyed systems.

While regressions and expansions show promise, they can also be problematic if large systems behave differently than smaller systems. Implications of mistaken estimates can mean that commercial and treaty harvest opportunities in Canada may not align with actual returns and can thus lead to over-harvest or foregone catch.

For 2020, we propose that DFO crews will do 4 aerial surveys of important even-year pink salmon producers for Area 3 (i.e., Kwinamass, Khutzeymateen, Toon and Kincolith) and NLG Fisheries and Wildlife Department (NFWD) ground crews will do Area 3 indicator systems that can be done without aerial support (a minimum of 2 systems among Dogfish, Chambers, Crag and Lizard). This project will compliment proposed work by the NFWD that will survey chum indicators which are also contributors of even-year pink salmon. Directed collaborative efforts by DFO and Nisga’a will enable us to produce strong watershed estimates and to compare it with regression methodologies used in previous years to see if they are viable options if all indicators can’t be surveyed.

Nass and Skeena Rivers Sockeye Salmon Escapement Goal Review and District 104 Fishery Review

The purpose of this project is to fund independent peer reviews of salmon assessments outlined in Chapter 2 (Northern British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska) of the 2019 Pacific Salmon Treaty. Canada agreed to “complete a comprehensive escapement goal analysis (prior to the 2023 fishing season) for Nass and Skeena river sockeye salmon that shall be peer-reviewed by an independent contractor and then submitted to the Committee and Northern Panel for further review.” In addition, the U.S. agreed “to complete a harvest pattern analysis of the pink salmon fishery in District 104 that shall be peer-reviewed by an independent contractor and then submitted to the Committee and the Northern Panel for further review.”

Chinook salmon genetic baseline update for Southeast Alaska and Canadian AABM fisheries

Southeast Alaska (SEAK) and Canadian aggregate abundance-based management (AABM) fisheries harvest Chinook salmon originating from throughout Southeast Alaska, Canada, and the southern U.S.  This diverse mixture of migrating stocks requires a comprehensive coastwide genetic baseline to accurately estimate the stock composition of harvests. The overall goal of this project is to use a phased approach to develop a coastwide Chinook salmon single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) baseline to estimate the stock composition of harvests in SEAK and Canadian AABM fisheries.

The two biggest hurdles to assembling a coastwide Chinook salmon SNP baseline are: 1) no single agency has all of the baseline tissue or DNA samples necessary to adequately represent coastwide Chinook salmon production, and 2) different agencies do not all necessarily use the same SNP panels. To address these hurdles, we have worked with collaborators at the University of Washington (UW) to compile lists of SNP markers and populations screened by agency and university labs from Canada and the U.S.

N19-I10B Chinook salmon genetic baseline update for Southeast Alaska and Canadian AABM Fisheries 2019 Report

Upper and Mid-Skeena River Aggregate Coho Salmon Escapement Estimator

Northern coho stocks, including Skeena River coho, are harvested in commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries in Canada and Alaska. Establishing robust stock assessment programs for coho is important for maintaining future coho fisheries.
By comparing the relative proportions of populations of known abundance with those that are not consistently enumerated, we can develop an escapement estimate for the aggregate stock. Furthermore, increasing the number of populations in the SNP baseline will increase genetic resolution for coho, and allow us to identify the populations of origin with higher precision for coho captured in mixed-stock fisheries in Canada and the U.S. When used in conjunction with an abundance estimate of a specific coho population within the Skeena River aggregate, an upgraded genetic baseline will improve estimates of exploitation rates in mixed-stock fisheries and therefore further support informed decisions by fisheries management.

N19-I44 Skeena River Aggregate Coho Salmon Estimator 2019 Report

Tlell River Coho Salmon Weir Indicator Program

The Tlell River salmon counting weir provides one of the very few reliable wild coho salmon escapement counts on the north coast of BC and for Haida Gwaii. The Tlell River adult coho spawner count is the primary indicator and absolute index of abundance for Graham Island Lowland coho. Haida Gwaii resides within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) statistical areas 1 and 2 for which 227 separate coho spawning populations have been identified and aggregated into 3 conservation units. Graham Island Lowland coho are located on the northern portion of Haida Gwaii in closer proximity to the main commercial and recreational fishing areas. It consists of more than 27 coho streams that due to access, dark tannic waters, undercut banks, and vegetation are impossible to enumerate by any means other than the Tlell River adult weir.
The coho and pink salmon enumeration data contributes to a long time-series of salmon spawner abundance maintained by DFO for stock assessment and conservation purposes, including discussions at the Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations and dialogue between commercial and recreational fishing sectors. This data also contributes to local resource management by the Haida Nation and information for BC Parks and the Haida Nation who co-manage the Tlall Conservancy and Heritage Site.


Slamgeesh Lake Field Station: Program Operation Support

Several projects on Slamgeesh Lake have been funded by the Northern Endowment Fund from 2007 onward. These projects include the installation and subsequent infrastructure improvements of the smolt trap, the weir, and repairs to the field station’s cabin.

Today and moving forward the continuation of fisheries research activities at Slamgeesh Lake is of high priority to the Upper Skeena Watershed Planning Group of the Gitxsan First Nation, the Skeena Fisheries Commission Technical Committee and the Northern Boundary Technical Committee. Complete coverage of the entire juvenile outmigration of both coho and sockeye salmon is of the upmost importance in accurately estimating recruitment. While enumeration of all returning adult coho and sockeye salmon will increase our understanding of run timing, ocean survival, coded-wire tag retention, and a complete total escapement census above the counting fence. This information is advantageous when managing the Skeena River mixed stock fishery.
We propose to lengthen the sampling season of both the juveniles in the spring and the adults in the fall to meet this need.

N18-I35 Slamgeesh Program Operation Support Report 2018

N14-I30 Slamgeesh Sampling Weir Infrastructure Improvements

N12-I14 Slamgeesh Camp Infrastructure Improvements

N10-I16 Reinstallation of Slamgeesh Lake Smolt Trap. Year 3

N08-I31 Installation of Slamgeesh Smolt Trap

N07-I09 Slamgeesh Weir Upgrade


Nass Sockeye Radio Tagging Project

We propose to radio tag a minimum of 500 large adult (≥ 45 cm) Sockeye Salmon from two fishwheels operated at Gitwinksihlkw between 1 June and mid-September in proportion to abundance passing the fishwheels, with a goal of obtaining a non-Meziadin sample size of 100–200 fish. Any radio tags recovered at the Meziadin Fishway, Gingit Creek spawner surveys, and in harvest fisheries will be reapplied at the fishwheels to increase the sample size of non-Meziadin fish tagged. We estimate that between 700 and 900 radio-tagged Sockeye Salmon would be released in this study, including reapplied tags (~350 are estimated for reapplication). Radio-tagged Sockeye Salmon will also be tagged with secondary marks (spaghetti tag and adipose fin hole punch) to determine any radio tag losses, and scale samples will be collected for genetic stock identification and aging purposes.