Draft Groundfish Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for review

Comments due by January 8, 2019

The Groundfish Management Unit has prepared a draft Pacific Region Groundfish Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for the 2019/20 fishing season. We invite your input to this draft IFMP. The updated draft IFMP has now been posted to an ftp site and is available for review at the address listed below.

Read the consultation letter here.

Download the draft IFMP here.

Many BC south coast Chinook populations listed under COSEWIC

COSEWIC released it most recent wildlife Species Assessment today. The assessment covers south coast Chinook including Fraser River, Thompson River, Vancouver Island and Southern Mainland populations.

Eight populations of Chinook were listed as endangered, four populations were listed as threatened, one population was listed as special concern, two as data deficient and one as not at risk.

From the COSEWIC press release:

Along with other species, COSEWIC also examined the status of Chinook Salmon, the king of the Pacific Coast salmon species. Mainly a migratory species, these large-bodied fish were historically abundant. Chinook Salmon are important culturally and as a food source for diverse groups of West Coast people, and also provide food for a diversity of wildlife species. The committee found 13 populations to be declining, with 8 assessed as Endangered, 4 as Threatened and one as Special Concern. Only the large population that lives in the Thompson River is stable.

“Many of these populations are in trouble”, stated John Neilson, Co-chair of the Marine Fishes subcommittee. “This may impact many species, including Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale, which rely on Chinook Salmon for food.”

To see the full list of assessed species visit the COSEWIC website here, or view a PDF table.

MCC provides feedback on Thompson and Chilcotin River steelhead

Subject: Support for listing Thompson & Chilcotin River steelhead under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Released: November 29, 2018

To: Species at Risk Program, Pacific Region

On November 29th, 2018, the MCC Salmon Committee provided support for listing Thompson & Chilcotin River steelhead under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

The submission provides answers to the questions listed in the “Survey on the emergency listing of the Steelhead Trout (Thompson and Chilcotin populations) under the Species at Risk Act”, which we accessed online at http://isdm.gc.ca/survey-enquete/eng/7d003481.

The submission contains the following points:

  1. We believe that listing would have significant economic, environmental, cultural and social benefits;
  2. Recovery is unlikely without listing. Any economic costs directly related to listing are short-term and are low relative to the costs of not listing and thereby forgoing recovery options.

The full submission can be found here:

Thompson Chilcotin consultation survey answers from MCC

 

$105 million for Restoration and Innovation

Statement of PSF President and CEO Dr. Brian Riddell

Regarding Fall Economic Update, New Wild Salmon Investments

Wild salmon and those of us who care deeply about them got some great news in federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Fall Economic Update. We were delighted to hear Minister Morneau announce major new investments to sustain Canada’s fish stocks. The creation of a British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund – an investment of $105 million over six years – will include a $5 million contribution to the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund (PSEF) in 2018-19. PSEF plays a vital role by investing in the on-going work of the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) and our hundreds of non-profit partners that work in communities across British Columbia to conserve wild salmon. We were also delighted to learn that significant new investments will be made in stock assessment as part of the new fisheries act. PSF has highlighted for many years the need for improved collection and analysis and sharing of data on salmon stocks – particularly critical are Chinook, coho, sockeye and steelhead stocks that have been in serious decline for many years. PSF and our partners, including DFO, have focused significant resources on improving science and data collection in recent years and it is extremely heartening to see new dollars announced on this front. On behalf of PSF, I commend Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government for investments during the last three years that benefit Pacific salmon through renewed support for Fisheries and Oceans Canada but especially for those that help enable the success of non-profits like the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund and Pacific Salmon Foundation. Minister Morneau rightly noted, “that the best solutions for Canada’s big challenges come from Canadians themselves.” On behalf of the thousands of volunteers and donors to PSF and in the broader “Salmon Community,” we agree and say thank you!

Sustaining Canada’s Wild Fish Stocks – Fall Economic Update 2018

From coast to coast to coast, Canada is privileged to enjoy an abundance of rich natural resources. With this privilege comes the responsibility to ensure that these resources are managed sustainably and protected wisely, to ensure that Canadians can continue to benefit from them for years to come.

In 2012, the final report of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was released, including broad recommendations on how to address factors leading to the decline of that species. The Government has now taken action to address all of the report’s recommendations, which represents a significant step toward protecting Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Government efforts to sustain Canada’s oceans and wild fish stocks have been reinforced through significant investments, including:

  • $197.1 million over five years of incremental funding for ocean and freshwater science.
  • $1.5 billion over five years to launch an ambitious and wide-ranging Oceans Protection Plan.
  • $284.2 million over five years to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act, which would support new legislative and regulatory tools.
  • $164.7 million over five years to protect, preserve and recover endangered whales, which includes research on salmon populations.
  • $61.5 million over five years to implement a suite of measures to protect and recover the Southern Resident Killer Whale, including funding that will support the conservation of wild pacific salmon.

The Government remains committed to the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon and recognizes that this commitment requires ongoing and incremental action in order to succeed. To support stock assessment and rebuilding efforts for priority Pacific salmon stocks, as well as other priority fish stocks across Canada, the Government proposes to invest $107.4 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $17.6 million per year ongoing, to support the implementation of stock assessment and rebuilding provisions in a renewed Fisheries Act.

Recognizing the importance of fisheries as a source of good, middle class jobs in coastal communities, as well as their importance to Canada’s economy as a whole, the Government is expanding on the success of the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, and proposes to invest $105 million over six years, starting in 2018–19, to create a British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which includes a contribution to the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund of $5 million in 2018–19, as well as $30 million over five years, starting in 2019–20 for a Quebec Fisheries Fund. The B.C. and Quebec funds will support projects focused on innovation, clean technology adoption, infrastructure investments that improve productivity, sustainability and safety, and science partnerships.

Canada’s salmon hold the key to saving its killer whales

Desperate efforts to save the whales – and the Chinook salmon on which they depend – risk fishing communities losing a way of life.

The Guardian, 12 November 2018

Days before the start of the summer fishing season, when guides and outfitters on Canada’s west coast gamble their financial prospects for the year, fishing lodge owner Ryan Chamberland received devastating news.

The coastal waters of Vancouver Island, which he and four generations of his family had fished for salmon, would be out of bounds. The unexpected closure was part of a desperate effort by the Canadian government to save an endangered population of killer whales.

That same summer, Tahlequah, one of the threatened whales, nudged the lifeless body of her newborn calf for 17 days of mourning. Shortly after, the once-playful Scarlet, a three-year-old female orca, succumbed to a bacterial infection as scientists from the Canadian and US governments worked desperately to save her.

The unfolding tragedy of the southern resident killer whales – and the government response – has exposed a complex ecosystem in crisis. Chinook salmon, the whale’s main prey, are also disappearing. In an area heavily reliant on tourism and fishing, an impending collapse of the two species has led to feuding over how to stave off an ecological disaster.

To read the full story visit the Guardian website here.

Federal government rejects emergency order to protect killer whales

The Canadian Press

November 2, 2018

Story from the Times Colonist

VANCOUVER — The federal government has declined to issue an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act that would further protect the endangered killer whales off British Columbia’s coast.

An order-in-council issued Thursday said the government has already taken several measures to ensure the recovery of the southern resident killer whales.

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a statement Friday that the government “carefully weighed various options” to protect the whales, and it does not believe an emergency order would be helpful.

“An emergency order does not contain measures in of itself, it is only a tool governments can use as an implementation mechanism,” he said.

Wilkinson said the government announced new measures on Wednesday to ensure that when the whales return to the waters in greater numbers in spring, they have cleaner water to swim in, more Chinook salmon to eat and a quieter place to call home.

To read the full story on the Times Colonist website click here.

 

Federal government announces new measures for killer whale protection

The National Post, October 31, 2018

VANCOUVER — The federal government wants to create new ocean sanctuaries in British Columbia as part of an additional $61.5 million it is spending to protect endangered killer whales.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Wednesday the government also wants to create new areas of critical habitat off the west coast of Vancouver Island for southern resident killer whales.

The protected areas of Swiftsure in the Juan de Fuca Strait between Vancouver Island and Washington state, and Le Perouse Banks off Tofino will be areas that the whales can call home, he said.

For the full story visit the National Post website.

Bureaucrats express concern about BC salmon stock tracking

Original story in the Globe and Mail, October 14

Available online here.

Rick Collins/The Globe and Mail

Senior public servants in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are worried the department has lost the ability to keep track of salmon species other than sockeye – including the Chinook critical to the survival of the endangered southern resident killer whale.

In the July letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, area directors in B.C. expressed “collective concerns with the continued under-resourcing of salmon stock assessment programs.”

Area directors wrote that they appreciate that under-resourcing is not simply because of reduced science funding in recent years, but the result of “eroded regional funding” from various sources over the past 15 years.

“The regional ability to meet well-established core salmon assessment programs is no longer possible with allocated funding,” said the letter. Recently, there have been concerns about dismal returns for Chinook salmon on the Fraser River, raising new concerns for the endangered southern resident killer whales that rely on these fish for their survival.

The perilous state of the whales was also a significant factor in the decision by the Federal Court of Appeal on Aug. 30 to halt the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Carmel Lowe, the regional science director for the department, was the recipient of the letter. She said since the letter was written, the department has committed to spending an extra $4-million on its monitoring responsibilities. That would bring its budget this year up to approximately $11.2-million for salmon stock assessment, about $1-million more than in each of the past four years.

“We have secured or anticipate having secured the funding required to allow all of the priority assessment programs to be undertaken,” Ms. Lowe said.

In an e-mail exchange subsequent to the interview, Ms. Lowe said internal and external sources of funds for salmon stock assessment have varied over the years, with declines in, for example, Pacific Salmon Treaty implementation funds, but increases in other sources of funding such as for implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

Still, the letter makes plain that the authors are concerned about dwindling resources over more than a dozen years, combined with increasing responsibilities.

Ms. Lowe said the department lacks the resources to “go out and assess every fish,” but, rather prioritizes. That means a focus on Fraser River sockeye, given Indigenous interest in the fish and their higher market value, and Chinook given the dependence of killer whales on them.

In May, the federal government announced a reduction of roughly one third in the harvest of Chinook and closured fishing in some key whale foraging areas after declaring that the southern resident killer whales face an imminent threat to their survival. The federal government has acknowledged that lack of prey is one of the critical factors affecting the whales’ recovery.

A spokesman for the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C., which works with and on behalf of B.C. First Nations to protect First Nations fisheries rights and title, said he was not surprised by the area directors’ letter.

“I think it’s something that those who work with fisheries here in B.C. [have] all expected and known,” council operations manager Janson Wong said in an interview.

The result, he said, is that DFO is often “guessing” about what returns and spawning might be.

“A lack of data means a lack of good management,” Mr. Wong said.

Cohen Response Status Update – October 2018

Announced during the International Year of the Salmon event on October 11 in Vancouver, a new update on the Cohen Commission recommendations has been released. See details below.

In 2009, Canada established the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (Cohen Commission) to investigate the decline of sockeye salmon stocks. While the final report of the Cohen Commission, The Uncertain Future of Fraser River Sockeye, released in October 2012, did not find any “smoking gun” or single factor leading to decreased Pacific salmon stocks, it did make 75 recommendations. The Government of Canada, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), as well as the Province of British Columbia (BC), have now taken actions to address all 75 of these recommendations (see Table 1 below).

Wild salmon are important to the Government of Canada, and through its actions, DFO continues to protect and rebuild the iconic and keystone Pacific salmon species in collaboration with partners for the benefit of the people of Canada and Canada’s marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. DFO has reviewed each recommendation to ensure that the department is doing all that it can, within its mandate and resources, to address the health and long-term sustainability of Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks, as well as wild Pacific salmon more broadly, but there remains more that can be done. Previous updates of actions taken were provided in August 2016 and September 2017. This final status report provides updated information on actions taken over the past year under the 5 themes of Wild Salmon Policy (WSP), fisheries management, habitat, aquaculture, and science, with a more detailed summary of DFO’s response to all 75 recommendations over the past 3 years included as an annex.

Although this is the final Cohen Response status update, the governments of Canada and British Columbia recognize that acting on many of the recommendations is an ongoing, incremental task. Going forward, ongoing work on many of the Cohen recommendations will continue, particularly across several key areas, such as salmon stock assessment, health status assessment, habitat protection and restoration, precautionary approach to salmon aquaculture, and fisheries management. Many commitments to ongoing action are also reflected in the Wild Salmon Policy 2018-2022 Implementation Plan which outlines specific activities and approaches that will be led by the department over the next 5 years towards restoring and maintaining healthy and diverse Pacific salmon populations and their habitats.

For more details on the October 2018 update visit Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

Wild Salmon Policy 2018 to 2022 Implementation Plan

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has released the final version of the Wild Salmon Policy 2018 to 2022 Implementation Plan.

Message from the minister:

As Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, it is my pleasure to present the Wild Salmon Policy 2018-2022 Implementation Plan. This Plan does not focus on actions taken, but rather represents Canada’s plan forward and commitment over the next five years towards continuing to restore and maintain wild Pacific salmon populations and their habitats.

When Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon was released in 2005, it was considered a ground-breaking document developed over five years of consultations with Canadians. It put a new priority on conserving the rich biological diversity of Pacific salmon, while supporting the sustainable use of one of Canada’s cherished natural resources – wild Pacific salmon.

Thirteen years later, salmon science and conservation work has been advanced, the goals and objectives of the policy remain pertinent, and the passion of Canadians is stronger than ever. The need to focus increase on this important keystone species continues as we face changing ocean and freshwater habitat conditions, less predictable returns and declines in some stocks.

We must find ways to continue to safeguard the genetic diversity of wild salmon and maintain habitat and ecosystem integrity; this is critical to both ensuring their conservation and continuing to provide opportunities for economic benefits that Pacific salmon generates for many Canadians – including BC and Yukon First Nations, commercial and recreational fishers and many small communities. I am committed to working with the BC and Yukon governments to enhance and deepen our collaboration going forward to protect Pacific salmon and salmon habitat.

I would like to thank the hundreds of dedicated Canadians who participated in our consultations in 2016 and 2017 and who provided valuable feedback in person or in writing. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has listened to the comments and considered all the recommendations in building this Plan. My Department is fully committed to the Pacific Wild Salmon Policy, and I am confident that by working with our dedicated partners, including collaboration with the government of BC and First Nations on an integrated strategy, we will secure a brighter future for wild Pacific salmon.

Full report here: