Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 DFO Season Review Meeting

The 2008 Season Review meeting was held by DFO in Prince Rupert on December 8th. The event is attended by representatives of all sectors and includes an overview of the management of the 2008 fishery. Presentations were made by DFO North Coast staff on various topics including commercial( both marine and inland) fishery catch statistics, Conservation & Protection, Habitat and Enhancement, and Stock Assessment.

The afternoon had presentations on various fishery related projects throughout the region, with special attention on the Kitwanga sockeye, the Slamgeesh sockeye, Lakelese sockeye....all depressed stocks of concern.
From our observation, we would have to say this event was poorly attended. There appeared to be more DFO personnel in attendance than any other user group or sector. The NCSA has made requests that this meeting for 2009 be moved to an inland location such as Terrace or Smithers. This would better reflect the shift in focus underway in the fishery to more inland harvesting plus involve the steelhead sector more.

The 2008 Season Review document is available on-line at the link below:
As a quick overview, some of the highlights...or lowlights if you will....include:
-the Tyee Test Fishery overestimated the sockeye run by 38% in 2008
-initially forecast at 1.3 million with very little commercial opportunity, the sockeye run was estimated to be as high as 2.5+ million in-season: the final sockeye run count was presented as 2,166,000
-the inflated sockeye numbers resulted in a substantial commercial fishery where gillnetters fished over their 10 year average for openings with 12 plus 2 'chinook' openings
-the Tyee overestimate, coupled with a condensed commercial fishing season, caused weekly harvest rates to be extremely high with some weeks enduring 60%+ rates
-the steelhead impacts are still not known according to Stock Assessment....this some 4 months after the fishery is over.
-the Tyee overestimate applies directly to the steelhead Index also: so this years total of 193.84 is actually only 120.18 after subtracting the 38% error of 73.66 basis points
-steelhead run size estimate goes from 47,490 (193.84 Tyee Index) down to 29,444 (120.18 Tyee Index)....under the required escapement of 35,000
-initial information on steelhead impacts was 10% for the aggregate run and possibly up to 3 times that for the early run. However, that was prior to the Tyee overestimate so now impacts on steelhead could be quite a bit higher.
-it appears the early run not only bore the brunt of the commercial fishing effort but got severely impacted by non-selective fishing methods....i.e gillnetting
-the 'official' tally of steelhead 'released' in the Area 4 gillnet fishery was presented as 3,336. This info would probably come from hail counts, and logbooks from gillnetters which even DFO concedes is not the most reliable information
-(remember our number crunching exercise from the summer for gillnet impacts on steelhead came up with figures of 18,120 stld. encountered and 10,000+ dead at 60% mortality and 12,000+ dead at 70% mortality just for Area 4 gillnets)
-add the this the First Nation FSC Area 4 mortality of 1800; the impacts of the seine fleet fishing 6 days a week 24 hours a day; plus the Area 3 impacts; the Alaskan impacts, the Tyee Test Fishery,....well, you get the idea...the steelhead run suffers tremendous impacts

-other concerns presented include; chum salmon, pink salmon, Kitwanga sockeye, Slamgeesh sockeye, Lakelese sockeye

The NCSA prepared a submission for this meeting plus a list of direct questions. These can be viewed here:
We have submitted both papers to DFO and hope to get responses soon. We will also post the responses to our questions when we receive them from DFO.
We will also be doing more in depth posts on some of these issues, like the Tyee overestimate, in the coming weeks.

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