Category: WCVI

Restoration of Juvenile Rearing Habitats in Support of Increased WCVI Chinook Production

MC Wright and Associates Ltd. (MCW) is proposing to construct an off-channel juvenile salmon rearing habitat in the lower Nitinat River to restore habitats lost due to impacts from forest harvesting. In the first year of the two and a half-year project, MCW will collect baseline data and conduct field surveys of the potential restoration sites (only one will be selected) to collect the data necessary to support prescription development (i.e., LiDAR and total station topographical data, groundwater, discharge, and water quality monitoring, fish sampling) and finalize the  prescription. In spring and summer of the second year, MCW will procure and mobilize heavy machinery to the work site, construct the channel, and complete a total station as-built survey and report. MCW will conduct post-construction monitoring the following spring to fall to assess fish use of the newly restored habitat (by minnow trap and electrofisher), fry size, habitat characteristics (e.g., water quality, channel stability, riparian vegetation cover composition).

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.

UAV based enumerations of chum salmon in Clayoquot Sound Rivers

We are developing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or “Drone” based enumerations of chum salmon within Clayoquot Sound and applying Artificial intelligence (AI) based software that aids in the detection and enumeration of salmon within the output video footage. By the end of the Project streamlined drone enumeration methodology will be produced that can then be applied to other species and stocks. AI-based software used to for ecological research applications will be optimized to be used for processing the drone video footage that is collected during the enumeration process. For this application fish can be detected and counted by the automated software making the process highly efficient. Streams will be enumerated traditionally by snorkel or bank walks at the same time as the drone-based surveys so the methods can be compared, and a survey efficiency can be determined. We are working with researchers from Uuathluk Fisheries, Quest University, University of Toronto, Pacific Salmon Foundation, CDFO, and other local organizations and to ensure the UAV based enumerations and analysis is designed to meet management requirements of expanded chum enumerations.

Enhanced Southern BC Chum Historical Data Analysis

The Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) maintained a Chum and Pink database of mark (fin clips with or without CWTs) recapture information until 2009, at which point reduced capacity and changing priorities in the program resulted in chum sampling data not being compiled in the standardized database for regional analysis. The Chum and Pink database reports annual contribution to catch and escapement for fin clipped chum and pink stocks, allowing estimation of survival and exploitation rate metrics, used to adaptively manage annual hatchery and spawning channel chum production. Currently historical biostandards are used to estimate production levels needed to meet fishery objectives.

This project proposes to compile missing years (2010 to present) of chum fin clipped release data from historical data in the Enhancement and Planning database (EPAD), clip observations in fisheries (Fraser River, Johnstone Strait, Central Coast) from J.O. Thomas sampling, and clip observations in escapement from hatchery sampling programs, using the SEP Chum and Pink database, where analysis can provide assessment metrics, and allow QA and reporting for all years.

Specifically, this proposed work will improve chum escapement and exploitation rate assessments by publishing historical enhanced contribution estimates in fisheries and escapement, based on fin clip rates observed in sampling. This should aid chum run reconstruction analyses by providing estimates of exploitation for Vancouver Island and Fraser River marked enhanced stocks.

S19-SP32 Assessment of Enhanced Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) in Canada: 1980 to 2018 Return Years 2019 Report

Burman River hydrology method validation project: indexing WCVI Chinook spawning area residence time beyond the Burman River

The goal of this study is to validate if the Discounted Survey Life (DSL) /Hydrology method of indexing residence time related to flow timing developed at Burman River can be used more extensively.  More specifically we hope to estimate escapement of the adjacent and neighboring Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) wild population indicators in the Nootka-Kyuquot Conservation Unit (CU) and the Southwest Vancouver Island CU, (Kaouk, Tahsish, and Artlish, Megin, Mooyeha, Bedwell). Modern mark-recapture (MR) methods  will be employed at Conuma River and Tranquil Creek, to precisely estimate spawning escapement of Chinook salmon as per the methods applied at Burman River 2009-2018. Periodic snorkel surveys will allow estimation of the annual observed fish-day integral (AUC). Dividing the snorkel fish-day integral by the MR estimate provides the DSL parameter which is largely explained by flow related migration timing. The later the freshet arrives in the fall, the less stored fat reserves remain in the salmon and residence time is reduced. Some timing differences are expected due to orographic differences in storm arrival timing although large frontal systems typically strike across the entire region. Although these two streams are not current Pacific Salmon Commission indicators of natural Chinook salmon escapement we believe they contain sufficient fish from hatchery production or supplementation to successfully conduct MR studies, estimate the DSL parameter, and validate if the new method can be applied more broadly to WCVI Chinook in general and specifically to the wild PST escapement indicator populations established in the new Agreement.

S19-I30 Tranquil Creek escapement and origin of adult Chinook salmon (Onchorhynchus tshawytscha) in 2019 Report

Bedwell River Smolt Outmigration Assessment

Current efforts in assessing the health and recovery of Chinook salmon have been primarily focused on adult escapement to their natal spawning grounds while data and information around the health and available resources at other life-stages is lacking. Cohort survival is generally determined in the early life phases. Identification of limiting factors is important for improving production and recovery. This project is unique along the WCVI in assessing the health, distribution, and out-migration timing of wild Chinook smolts. Results from the project will contribute to a multi-year comprehensive assessment of the limiting factors for southern west coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) Chinook recovery. Preliminary work suggests these chinook smolts are migrating to sea at very small sizes of 0.5 grams, making them susceptible to disease and other factors.

We propose installing a Rotary Screw Trap (RST) in the lower reaches of the Bedwell River which will capture and allow for sampling of the juvenile salmon out-migration in the Spring. This will include conducting a mark-recapture study using Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags on captured juvenile Coho and Chinook. We will follow in-river sampling with estuary beach seines and beach seines along Bedwell Sound. Whole samples will also be sent to the DFO Molecular Genetics Lab to test for pathogens.

S19-I24 Bedwell Chinook Out-Migration Asssessment 2019 Report

Investigation of Yearling Chinook Hatchery Production as a Conservation Strategy for West Coast Vancouver Island Chinook

This project proposes to continue a study to investigate the utility of yearling Chinook enhancement as a conservation tool for West Coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) Chinook salmon. An experimental group of Chinook from Robertson Creek will be reared for ~18 months and released at the yearling stage to compare marine survival, maturation rate, marine distribution and exploitation rate to the traditional subyearling Chinook release that is used at DFO hatcheries. This project will fund the rearing and coded wire tagging of 100K Chinook juveniles for brood years 2017 and 2018, which will be compared to the traditional subyearling release strategy that is currently employed on WCVI. As the Stamp River is currently the WCVI PST exploitation rate indicator, terminal assessment capability is very high. This strategy has been proposed as a tool for extreme conservation situations where maximizing the total return from a limited number of available eggs is desired. It has also been hypothesized that by utilizing multiple release strategies, that brood year failures due to poor ocean entry conditions in any one year can be avoided. There is little recent empirical information on this strategy and its potential utility or risk as a tool for Chinook conservation. This project will address that gap and allow for improved decision making to fully understand the risks and benefits of this strategy as a component of a comprehensive conservation plan for Chinook populations of concern.

S19-E43 Investigation of Yearling Chinook Hatchery Production as a Conservation Strategy for WCVI Chinook 2019 Report

N18-E06 Investigation of Yearling Chinook Hatchery Production as a Conservation Strategy for West Coast Vancouver Island Chinook Report

Development and Implementation of Analytical Tools to Support WCVI Chinook Hatchery Management & Reform in Canada

This project’s intent is to address how hatchery management, in concert with harvest and habitat management can best be applied over time to maintain a trajectory toward success.  Here, “best” means progress toward recovery of the natural population being maximized while achieving enhancement production objectives.

The objective is to undertake a one-time set of activities to support the development and implementation of analytical tools designed to allow for improved Chinook hatchery program design and operation in British Columbia. The project will build on recent science and policy work in both Canada and the US HSRG process to support Chinook hatchery planning work so that it may better meet managers and stakeholders harvest and conservation goals.

Hatchery effectiveness and wild stock interactions will be directly evaluated and will support integrated planning to improve the cost-benefit return, both in terms of harvest value as well as minimizing negative wild stock interactions. Improvement to the status of wild WCVI Chinook via conservation hatchery intervention can potentially lead to increased harvest availability in boundary fisheries. In addition, production hatcheries that are determined through the use of the All-Hatchery Analyzer and In-Season Implementation Tool (AHA-ISIT) to be underutilized with respect to potential contribution of hatchery Chinook to boundary and domestic fisheries will be reviewed for potential increases in production. Improved information and understanding of potential harvestable hatchery surpluses will be able to leverage significant benefits with minimal resource inputs, as hatchery Chinook that are already being produced may be made available for harvest.

As the AHA-ISIT Life Cycle Model allows for modelling of scenarios for rebuilding that include habitat productivity parameters in conjunction with harvest and hatchery policy, effective implementation of this project and subsequent evaluation of current and previous hatchery programs will be able to identify opportunities for habitat restoration work where it may be a limiting factor for wild population abundance.

N18-E05 Development and Implementation of Analytical Tools to Support WCVI Chinook Hatchery Management and Reform in Canada Report

Burman River Chinook Salmon Mark-Recapture

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

S17-VHP13 Burman River Chinook salmon mark-recapture 2017

S16-I17 Burman River Chinook Salmon Mark-Recapture Report 2016. Year 8

S15-I06 Burman River Chinook Salmon Escapement Indicator Mark-Recapture Experiment, 2015. Year 7

S14-I13 Burman River Open population mark-recapture estimation of ocean-type Chinook spawning escapements WCVI Report 2014

SSP13-01 Burman River Chinook Salmon Total Escapement Estimation Project, 2013

SSP12-01 Preliminary - Burman River Chinook Salmon Total Escapement Estimation Project, 2012

SSP11-06 Burman River Chinook Salmon Total Escapement Estimation Project, 2011

SSP10-03A Burman River Chinook Salmon Total Escapement Estimation Project, 2010

SSP-1A/B Burman River Chinook Salmon Total Escapement Estimation Project, 2009 (Year 1)



Terminal Abundance of WCVI Chinook Salmon

Chinook salmon stocks originating from the West Coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) contribute significantly to the ocean harvests in fisheries in Southeast Alaska and northern British Columbia, as well as being of prime importance to near-shore fisheries along the WCVI itself. Consequently, commercial and sport fishermen, as well as First Nations up and down the coast have a vested interest in the status of WCVI Chinook salmon. Management agencies and organizations responsible for fisheries in Southeast Alaska, northern British Columbia, and along the WCVI have need of stock status information concerning WCVI Chinook salmon.
The overall goal of this project is to estimate the aggregate terminal returns of WCVI hatchery and natural origin Chinook salmon, including catch plus escapement inside the surf line such that the estimates are asymptotically accurate and have a CV of 15% or less. This will be achieved through 1) the first comprehensive assessment of catch plus escapement along the WCVI, and 2) refinement of the ‘driver stock’ approach for estimating aggregate terminal return from a distant fishery.
The “driver stock” approach was first developed through the Sentinel Stock Program, and is based on the assumption that an indicator stock (or stock group) experiences the same exploitation and maturation rates as the aggregate. If the assumption holds, the incidence of this indicator stock group in an ocean fishery (using information such as CWT, otolith, DNA) and in its terminal area would have the same ratio as the catch of the indicator stock group in the same ocean fishery to its terminal run size. When using a single CWT stock, estimating terminal run size is simple. However, given the complexity of the WCVI stock aggregate and terminal WCVI fisheries, the key assumptions of the method – i.e. that maturation rates and exploitation rates are constant across the WCVI aggregate, were not met.
The purpose of this project is to 1) improve the precision of the terminal return estimates of natural and hatchery origin chinook salmon along the WCVI, 2) quantify the variation in maturation, exploitation rates, abundance across the WCVI aggregate, and 3) use the additional information to refine the application of the driver stock approach to the WCVI aggregate through development of a Bayes method. These results will benefit existing stock reconstructions and forecasts in the assessment of the WCVI Chinook salmon stock complex.

N17-VHP02 Terminal Abundance of WCVI Chinook Report 2017

VHP16-04 Progress - Terminal Abundance of WCVI Chinook Salmon. Year 2 of 3

VHP15-02 Terminal Abundance of WCVI Chinook Salmon. Year 1 of 3