MCC provides comments on draft 2019/2020 IFMPs for Salmon

The MCC submitted feedback on the draft 2019/2020 Northern and Southern Integrated Fisheries and Management Plans today.

The letter details MCC’s recommendations on Fisheries Risk Assessments and Fishery Management and Catch Reporting, Chinook Fisheries and incidental mortality, Interior Fraser Coho, and sockeye, chum and pink fisheries across the province.

MCC submission re IFMP development April 2019


Wild Salmon Advisory Council report published in support of B.C.’s wild salmon

BC’s Wild Salmon Advisory Council Report was released today.

News Release posted on the Province of British Columbia’s website:

The first step in the development of a renewed provincial approach to protecting and enhancing wild salmon, the Wild Salmon Advisory Council report, was made public to coincide with the start of the International Year of the Salmon.

“Wild salmon are a vital part of the lives of thousands of British Columbians, from Indigenous communities to commercial and recreational fishers. They are integral to our environment, our history, our economy and our way of life in B.C.,” said Premier John Horgan. “The advisory council worked tirelessly examining the impacts of wild salmon on B.C.’s communities, economy and Indigenous peoples. These recommendations will help B.C. protect and enhance wild salmon for future generations.”

The report provides key insights and guidance on protecting wild salmon and maximizing the value of this important resource for British Columbia. Premier Horgan announced the report’s publication while speaking at the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission’s launch of the International Year of the Salmon.

“The report released today details the important role wild salmon play in B.C.’s ecosystem and economy,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “As we enter the International Year of the Salmon, we are committed to working in partnership with the federal government to help restore and sustain B.C.’s salmon population.”

The report provides 14 recommendations that support the health, habitat and management of wild salmon, as well as the sustainability of the wild salmon industry in British Columbia. It will be submitted to the legislative assembly’s Select Standing Committee of Agriculture, Fish and Food in the coming weeks. The committee has been tasked with leading a public consultation process with British Columbians on the advisory council’s report in the new year, which will inform the development of a renewed provincial approach to protecting wild salmon.

The Wild Salmon Advisory Council consists of 14 British Columbians, including co-chairs Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, and Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk First Nation. Thanks to their hard work and expertise, British Columbians will now have a broader understanding of the role that salmon play within B.C.’s environment, for coastal and inland Indigenous communities and local economies up and down the coast. Restoration and protection of wild salmon is a shared priority with the B.C. Green Party caucus — Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, also participated on the Premier’s advisory council.

Find the full report here.

Learn More:

To learn about the International Year of the Salmon, visit:

To read the Wild Salmon Advisory Council’s report, visit:

To find out more about the Wild Salmon Advisory Council, visit:

Is it possible that there are too many salmon in the Pacific Ocean?

In early April, a new science research article was released in the journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries detailing the numbers and biomass of salmon in the North Pacific Ocean. While total abundance is at a record high, much of that is comprised of hatchery origin fish. Many wild populations across BC and the Pacific Coast remain in highly depressed states.

Press Release:

Numbers and Biomass of Natural- and Hatchery-Origin Pink, Chum, and Sockeye Salmon in the North Pacific Ocean, 1925-2015

Is it possible that there are too many salmon in the Pacific Ocean? Is high salmon abundance causing reduced growth and lower survival of some salmon populations? The idea of too many salmon may seem preposterous for many people that frequently hear about declining numbers of salmon. Yet a new Featured Article published by the American Fisheries Society in its peer review journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science demonstrates that total abundance of Pacific salmon is at record high levels, and Pink, Chum, and Sockeye Salmon have been more abundant during the past 25 years than any time since 1925. In this article, Drs. Ruggerone and Irvine estimate the annual numerical abundance and biomass of the three most populous species (Pink, Chum, and Sockeye Salmon) from 1925 to 2015. Abundances of hatchery-origin and natural-origin salmon are estimated for each oceanic region of North America and Asia so that scientists and managers can examine relationships between hatchery releases of salmon and growth and survival of these and other species of salmon. Highlights of the manuscript include:

  • There are more Pacific salmon now than ever before since comprehensive statistics began to be collected in 1925 (i.e., catch plus spawning escapement).  However, Chinook and Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout are depressed throughout much of their range, representing only 4% of total salmon catch.
  • Numbers of Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon and Sockeye Salmon averaged 721 million salmon each year during 2005-2015 or approximately 36% more salmon than in the previous peak in the late 1930s.
  • Pink Salmon represent nearly 70% by numbers of all three species.
  • High overall salmon abundances primarily reflect high numbers of natural-origin and hatchery salmon in northern regions where habitat is less degraded and warming ocean conditions have been generally favorable for Pink, Chum, and Sockeye Salmon.
  • Hatchery salmon now constitute ~40% of the total biomass of adult and immature salmon in the ocean, largely because of Chum Salmon that spend more years at sea.
  • Major hatchery production for these three species occurs in Alaska (Prince William Sound, Southeast Alaska), the Sakhalin and Kuril Islands (Russia), and Japan.  In Alaska, up to 48% of total commercial salmon harvest is from hatchery salmon according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
  • Salmon migrate 1000s of kilometers at sea and compete for food with salmon from both Asia and North America. High salmon abundances can lead to reduced body size and survival of salmon and lower survival of seabirds. The ocean carrying capacity for Pacific salmon may have been reached in recent decades. Research is needed to better understand the impacts of high salmon abundance on the offshore marine ecosystem, including depleted wild species such as Chinook and Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout, and some populations of Sockeye and Chum Salmon.
  • The authors recommend the following changes in salmon management: 1) mark or tag all hatchery salmon so they can be identified after release, 2) estimate hatchery- and natural-origin salmon in catches and escapement, and 3) maintain this information in publicly accessible databases.

To read or download the full open-access article visit:

MCC Submits Advice to DFO for 2018 Salmon IFMP

On April 6th, the MCC submitted an 18-page document containing many recommendations for the 2018/19 north and south coast salmon Integrated Fishing and Management Plans (IFMPs).

Our letter discusses issues around Chinook exploitation rates, Interior Fraser Steelhead, Southern Resident Killer Whales, the Commercial Salmon Allocation Framework, Fraser River sockeye, Interior Fraser Coho, the Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting and Monitoring and Compliance.

Read the full letter here: MCC advice for draft 2018 Salmon IFMP April 6 Final (PDF)

MCC sends letter on Chinook and Killer Whale Management

On January 30th, 2018, the MCC sent a letter to Minister Dominic Leblanc detailing our concerns on Chinook salmon management with respect to the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs).

The letter included a 12-page report with 4 main recommendations for Chinook and vessel management actions for 2018. These actions are consistent with the ‘immediate’ actions recommended in the 2017 Science Review to address lack of Chinook, vessel noise and disturbance.

Recommendations detailed in the attached paper include:
1. Implement SRKW Feeding Refuges that will allow SRKWs to successfully forage in critical feeding habitats without noise and disturbance from recreational fishing and whale watching activities.
2. Implement commercial and recreational fishing restrictions to increase the abundance of Chinook in habitats identified as critical to SRKW, other important SRKW feeding areas, and for Chinook populations known to be important in the diets of SRKWs.
3. Manage Chinook in accordance with 1) and 2) until the health of SRKWs (as determined by photogrammetry, pregnancies, hormones, vital rates or other proxies) indicates a high likelihood whales are recovering.
4. Implement recovery plans consistent with Canada’s Guidance for the Development of Rebuilding Plans under the Precautionary Approach Framework to rebuild B.C. Chinook populations (i.e. Conservation Units below their Spawner Maximum Sustainable Yield (Smsy) with the objective of
maximizing Chinook recruitment to terminal areas and spawning grounds (Rmax).

To read the letter: January 30 MCC letter to Leblanc Orcas and Chinook 2018 IFMP (PDF)

To read the full report: 2018 IFMP MCC input on Chinook and SRKW management (PDF)

DFO Seeks Input into 2018 IFMP Development

On January 9th, DFO released a letter inviting feedback on the Planning Priorities for the 2018 Integrated Fishing and Management Plans for Salmon, Northern and Southern BC.

Key topics this year include:

  1. COSEWIC and SARA process
  2. Skeena River Chinook
  3. Skeena and Nass River Chinook
  4. Southern Resident Killer Whales
  5. Fraser River Chinook
  6. Interior Fraser River Steelhead
  7. Fraser River Sockeye
  8. Interior Fraser Coho
  9. Commercial Salmon Allocation Framework (CSAF) Demonstration Fisheries

Comments are due February 5th – the MCC will be submitting their comments before then.

For more details on the issues listed above please see the full letter: 2018_2019 IFMP Planning Priorities Letter – January 2018 – Letter from DFO (PDF)

MCC Salmon Committee sends letter to Terry Beech

On February 8, the MCC Salmon Committee sent a letter to Terry Beech, MP, and recently appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and Canadian Coast Guard.

The letter introduces the MCC to Terry Beech and our current priorities in salmon management:

  • Ensuring recovery of at-risk salmon species
  • Improving transparency and openness, ensuring precautionary management, and reducing overfishing of at-risk stocks in Pacific salmon fisheries
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Inquiry
  • Implementing Canada’s Policy for the Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon (a.k.a., the Wild Salmon Policy or WSP), which is a key focus of the Cohen recommendations
  • Improving compliance and monitoring in Pacific salmon fisheries

We have also asked for a meeting with him to discuss two particularly pressing matters: (1) DFO’s current efforts to weaken the Wild Salmon Policy, which was brought in by the previous Liberal government, and (2) the coastwide crisis in stock assessment funding for Pacific salmon, which hit a historic low in 2016.

Read the full letter: 2017-02-08 MCC SC letter to Terry Beech

Species and population diversity in Pacific salmon fisheries underpin indigenous food security

A study just published by Holly Nesbit and Jonathon Moore at Simon Fraser University highlights the importance of population diversity in Pacific salmon fisheries.

Summary of the paper:

1. Indigenous people are considered to be among the most vulnerable to food insecurity and biodiversity loss. Biodiversity is cited as a key component of indigenous food security; however, quantitative examples of this linkage are limited.

2. We examined how species and population diversity influence the food security of indigenous fisheries for Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus species). We compared two dimensions of food security – catch stability (interannual variability) and access (season length) – across a salmon diversity gradient for 21 fisheries on the Fraser River, Canada, over 30 years, using linear regression models. We used population diversity proxies derived from a range of existing measures because population-specific data were unavailable.

3. While both population and species diversity were generally associated with higher catch stability and temporal access, population diversity had a stronger signal. Fisheries with access to high species diversity had up to 14 times more stable catch than predicted by the portfolio effect and up to 12 times longer fishing seasons than fisheries with access to fewer species. Fisheries with access to high population diversity had up to 38 times more stable catch and three times longer seasons than fisheries with access to fewer populations.

4. Catch stability of Chinook Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and sockeye Oncorhynchus nerka fisheries was best explained by the number of populations and conservation units, respectively, that migrate past a fishery en route to spawning grounds. Similar population diversity metrics were important explanatory variables for season length of sockeye, pink Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, coho Oncorhynchus kisutch and chum Oncorhynchus keta fisheries.

5. Synthesis and applications. We show an empirical example of how multiple scales of biodiversity support food security across a large watershed and suggest that protecting fine-scale salmon diversity will help promote food security for indigenous people. The scales of environmental assessments need to match the scales of the socio-ecological processes that will be affected by development. We illustrate that upstream projects that damage salmon habitat could degrade the food security of downstream indigenous fisheries, with implications to Canadian indigenous people and to watersheds around the world where migratory fishes support local fisheries.

For the full paper, visit the Journal of Applied Ecology website.