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.

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)

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.