Category: Transboundary

Alsek River – Chinook and Sockeye Salmon Assessment

The proposed project monitors Chinook and sockeye escapement to important Alsek River sub-drainages. It permits estimation of Chinook salmon escapement drainage-wide, and when coupled with GSI permits estimation of sockeye salmon escapement drainage-wide. It is the primary tool for identifying whether or not Klukshu and Alsek river escapement goals and fishery management targets have been achieved under Chapter 1 Paragraph 4 of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Aspects of the project being developed in recent years have added significant diversity and strength to our understanding and management of Alsek River salmon stocks.

Transboundary Rivers, Juvenile Rearing Habitat Assessment

Juvenile sockeye salmon rearing capacity for the following nursery lakes would be determined through detailed limnology sampling and the measuring of physical features at: King Salmon lake, Kuthai Lake, Little Trapper lake, Nakina Lake, Tatsamenie Lake, Trapper Lake, and Victoria Lake. By collecting these data sets, each lake can be evaluated to model juvenile rearing potential. In addition to establishing current conditions these data would also allow for a direct comparison at each lake to previous assessment results. The previous assessment results would be used to ensure repeatable sampling was conducted and that any changes to habitat are recorded.

Stikine River Chinook Salmon Telemetry

We propose radio tagging 200 large Chinook salmon during the annual stock assessment project on the Stikine River in 2022 with the primary objective to estimate the proportion of large Chinook salmon (≥ 660 mm mid eye to fork of tail (MEF)) tagged below the border that migrate past the U.S./Canada border. Additional objectives include addressing existing questions about migration, behavior and landslide passage.  To implement a telemetry project in 2022, tags and other gear must be purchased in advance, beginning in 2021.

Snettisham Central Incubation Facility Water Chiller Upgrade for Transboundary River Sockeye Enhancement Program

Snettisham Central Incubation Facility (CIF) raises sockeye salmon fry for the Transboundary River (TBR) enhancement program, domestic smolt for the United States fishing fleet, and fry for a small lake stocking program for a personal use fishery at Sweetheart Creek. Chilled water is necessary for all programs on site to rear healthy, viable fry and to thermally mark fish such that hatchery fish can be distinguished from their wild-origin cousins. At this time, the two water chillers at Snettisham CIF are in need of replacement. The existing chillers were used units prior to being installed at Snettisham CIF over 30 years ago, and replacement parts are becoming more difficult to locate and will soon be obsolete. With the recent warming climate, the Snettisham CIF chiller system has been put under increasing stress to keep up with the various aspects of the sockeye enhancement programs on site.
For the TBR program, eggs are collected in Canada, fertilized and transported to Snettisham CIF for overwinter incubation and otolith marking. As the lakes in Canada typically do not reach ice-out until May or early June, having an efficient chilling system is an integral part of the operation to make sure the
fry do not emerge from their incubators with much time before the lakes are ready to accept them. In recent years, fry have emerged early due to warmer water conditions and old, inefficient chiller units, and the fry must be fed to survive until ice out on the lakes. As the Snettisham CIF is not set up well for long
term rearing of TBR fry, new chillers are necessary to make certain the TBR sockeye enhancement program that Treaty obligations for sockeye enhancement are met, and to ensure healthy fry are delivered back to the Canadian lakes in a timely fashion for the best possible freshwater survival.

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.

Taku River Coho Salmon Genetic Stock Identification Baseline Development

The continuation of developing and implementing genetic stock identification (GSI) is relevant to increase knowledge and improve management of Transboundary Area salmon stocks. In particular: Continue collaborative TTC effort to identify and fill priority genetic baseline data gaps. Over the long-term, agencies should collect genetic baseline data for Transboundary coho salmon. The Parties are committed to developing genetic stock ID baselines that can be shared and used in the cooperative management of Transboundary stocks, genetic stock identification is a high priority of the Panel as stated in the “Transboundary Panel Strategic Salmon Plan.”

GSI programs has been supported by the Northern Fund since 2008 but until now, has concentrated on obtaining tissue samples from Chinook and sockeye salmon. Once coho salmon tissue samples have been analysed, it would allow DFO and ADF&G to identify the composition of the commercial harvests by stock groupings, for run timing and exploitation rate information. As an added benefit, it has the potential to generate drainage-wide abundance estimates, if, in the future, escapement counts are obtained from headwater areas.

Tahltan River Chinook Salmon Assessment Feasibility

The primary objective of this project is to test the feasibility of obtaining a census of Chinook salmon entering the Tahltan River in the Stikine River drainage. Based on telemetry data, the Tahltan River (into which Tahltan Lake, Beatty Creek, and the Little Tahltan River drain) is the most important Chinook tributary in the Stikine River drainage, supporting up to 60% of the total annual return. The use of sonar technology in the Tahltan River would complement existing weir operations at Little Tahltan River by providing a census of all Chinook salmon entering the river. The index approach using Little Tahltan weir data to derive an escapement estimate for the Stikine River has been complicated in recent years by an apparent decrease in the contribution of Little Tahltan Chinook to the overall Stikine River Chinook escapement.

Alsek River Chinook and Sockeye Salmon Stock Assessment (US – ADFG)

The purpose of this project is to re-establish Alsek River Chinook and sockeye salmon stock assessment projects that were suspended in 2005.  Direct measures of inriver abundance are preferred for abundance-based management, however Klukshu River weir counts are currently the only measure of abundance for Alsek River Chinook and sockeye salmon.
The 2019 Pacific Salmon Treaty Bilateral Agreement directs the parties to continue to develop and implement abundance-based management programs for Alsek River Chinook and sockeye salmon. The Parties shall maintain, through the Committee, a Chinook genetic stock identification (GSI) program approved by the Parties to assist the management of Alsek River Chinook salmon.
In the spirit of this direction, the intent of this project is to reestablish Alsek River Chinook and sockeye salmon stock assessment projects and use available data from both countries to provide technical estimates of the annual inriver abundances. The capture sites on the lower Alsek River have not been visited in nearly 15 years. Year one of this study will be a pilot project to facilitate capture methods in the lower river. Mark-recapture studies, GSI run reconstruction, and telemetry project will take place in subsequent years.

Taku River – Chinook Headwater Sampling

The purpose of this project is conduct mark-recapture Event II (i.e. recapture) sampling on various Taku headwater streams, both established locations (i.e. Tatsatua Creek, Tseta Creek, Nahlin River and Dudidontu River) as well as exploratory areas (i.e. Sloko River). These sites are the major contributors of samples and tag recoveries to the estimation of drainage-wide Taku River Chinook salmon abundance. Sampling will be conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in collaboration with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). This tag recovery and sampling is a critical element of the Event II component of the Taku River Chinook salmon mark-recapture program, provides coded-wire tag (CWT) recoveries to estimate smolt survival and marine survival (in concert with other bilateral projects), and provides data essential for forecasting and monitoring the health of Taku River Chinook salmon stocks.

The bulk of this project is tag recovery and biological sampling for Chinook salmon on Tatsatua Creek (in the vicinity of Little Tatsamenie Lake), a long standing DFO project which contributes more than 25% of the total Taku River Chinook salmon tag recoveries, and many CWT recoveries in recent years. This component has been funded by the NEF in recent years as part of a different proposal. The remainder of the project will allow DFO and TRTFN staff to fully participate with ADF&G on other Taku River Chinook headwater sampling projects at other established sampling sites which also provide a significant recovery and sampling contribution to the Taku River Chinook mark-recapture and CWT programs.

Transboundary Rivers Otolith Thermal Mark Recovery

Enhanced sockeye salmon outplanted as part of enhancement projects in the Transboundary Rivers area have their otoliths thermally marked as fry to allow later identification to stocking origin and brood year. Transboundary Rivers (TBR) stock assessment and monitoring projects collect otoliths from both outmigrating sockeye smolts and returning sockeye adults through a variety of projects. The proposed thermal mark recovery project will fund the preparation, interpretation and analysis of these samples, which will provide critical data to stock assessment and enhancement activities; wild/enhanced ratios, scale aging validation, fry to smolt survival, smolt to adult survival, contributions of enhanced fish to returns, straying rates, etc. These data are vital elements of Transboundary stock assessment, enhancement, and fishery management programs. Data are used in enhancement planning and evaluation for multiple stocks, forecasting of returns, annual run reconstructions, and monitoring fishery management performance.