The MCC Salmon Subcommittee has released a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada with recommendations for monitoring in SC recreational fisheries. In summary, with management measures moving to non-retention of chinook in many areas, there are concerns around the Fisheries Related Incidental Mortality (FRIM) still being high and impacting stocks of concern like Fraser River 42/52 chinook. As the non-retention of chinook increases, total mortalities will decrease (e.g. some fish that would have been kept are now released) however FRIM will increase. Our recent discussion paper illustrates that new guidance for the derivation of FRIM suggests that estimates using current methodology from DFO and PSC managers may underestimate the actual FRIM in these fisheries, and likely by a large margin.
This letter calls for increased monitoring in recreational fisheries specifically in regards to genetic sampling of released fish, as well as kept chinook, so that managers can determine the stock composition of both released and kept chinook. Additionally the MCC is requesting that DFO incorporate the guidance provided by Patterson et al. (2017) in future FRIM and total mortality estimates.
The following figure shows that the median estimate of FRIM in the full non-retention scenario (bottom-left panel – based on 2018 catch and release data) is about 9000 using guidance from Patterson et al. (2017) – nearly 4-fold higher than DFO’s estimate and double that using PSC methods.
Fisheries management measures for the 2019 fishing season will include:
Commercial fishing: Commercial troll fisheries for Chinook will be closed until August 20 to avoid impacting Fraser Chinook stocks and to support conservation priorities.
Recreational fishing: The 2019 management measures for recreational fisheries where at risk Chinook stocks may be encountered are designed to maximize returns of these at risk Chinook to their spawning grounds. Opportunities to harvest Chinook will be provided later in the season to support the long-term viability of the recreational industry. The 2019 measures include:
Non-retention of Chinook in Southern BC (including West Coast Vancouver Island offshore, Johnstone Strait and Northern Strait of Georgia) until July 14; a daily limit of one (1) Chinook per person per day after July 15 until December 31.
Non-retention of Chinook in the Strait Juan de Fuca and Southern Strait of Georgia until July 31; retention of one (1) Chinook per person per day as of August 1until December 31.
West Coast Vancouver Island offshore areas will have non-retention of Chinook until July 14 followed by a limit of two (2) Chinook per day from July 15 to December 31. West Coast Vancouver Island inshore waters will remain at two (2) Chinook per day for the season once at-risk Chinook stocks have passed through, to support the long term viability of the salmon and of the recreational fishery.
Fraser River recreational fisheries will remain closed to salmon fishing until at least August 23, and opportunities will be informed by any other conservation issues (coho, steelhead, etc).
Retention of two (2) Chinook per day continues to be permitted in Northern BC and inshore areas of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Other opportunities may be identified and announced in season where abundance permits.
An overall reduction in the total annual limit for Chinook that can be retained per person in a season from 30 fish to 10. Recreational fisheries for other species will continue. Please see the Department’s web-site for local regulations.
First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries: these fisheries, which have a constitutionally protected priority, will not commence until July 15 – concurrent with the opening of the recreational retention fishery.
On April 15th, the MCC Salmon Subcommittee sent a letter to the Honourable Jonathon Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, detailing measures required to protect endangered, threatened and at risk Fraser River chinook salmon.
Background: In 2018, COSEWIC identified seven populations of Fraser Chinook salmon as endangered, four as threatened and one as special concern. Based on data to 2015, the only Fraser Chinook Conservation Unit that COSEWIC considered ‘stable’ was the South Thompson population. DFO has identified this population as a stock of concern and recommended harvest reductions because of its declining productivity. At this time, there are no wild populations of Chinook salmon in the Fraser River considered healthy.
In the letter the MCC proposes measures that would protect Fraser River chinook. Chinook management for 2019 must address the serious conservation concerns that exist for early timed Fraser fish, broader conservation concerns for all wild Fraser Chinook, and the recovery objectives for Southern Resident killer whales.