The North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society (NCSFNSS) proposes to conduct a creel survey of the Area 3 and 4 recreational fishery following the design and methodology used by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in the last 6 years (Van Tongeren 2012), in order to ensure continuity of data for temporal comparisons. Software for data management and analysis will be developed in partnership with LGL to offer comparable statistics and precision of catch and effort estimates as provided by DFO’s CREST1 program. The purpose of the survey is to provide estimates of the catch and effort of all species targeted by the recreational fishery with known variance. Of high priority for the survey is the provision of monthly in-season catch estimates for all salmon species and Halibut harvested in the North Coast recreational fishery. Biological data will also be collected, such as fin clip incidence for Coho and Chinook, scale samples of Chinook, and Halibut lengths.
The North Coast recreational fishery harvests multiple species of salmon, with Chinook and Coho being the main targeted species. In addition, the fishery harvests groundfish and invertebrate species. Sport fishing on the North Coast is a popular activity for both residents and visitors to the area and effort has increased significantly over the last 20 years (Van Tongeren 2012). Chinook salmon caught in the Area 3 and 4 recreational fishery originate from various BC and US stocks. Chinook originating from the Nass and Skeena rivers are the largest stocks on the Northern BC coast and they are a major component of the Chinook harvested in these fisheries.
This proposed project is well aligned with the goal of the Northern Fund to develop improved information for resource management, including better stock assessment, data acquisition and improved scientific understanding of limiting factors affecting salmon production in the freshwater and marine environments. The recreational fishery catch estimates, biological samples, and CWT data provided through the Area 3 and 4 creel survey are important components of the annual stock assessment data required to monitor trends and manage the fisheries for Nass and Skeena Chinook and Coho stocks.