Saturday, September 05, 2009

Skeena Steelhead Update to Sept.03

Here is the Skeena Steelhead Update to September 03rd from the Ministry of Environment, Smithers.

Information courtesy/copyright BC Ministry of Environment, Smithers

Please find, attached, the Skeena Update to September 3rd, 2009. This file contains the Tyee Test Fishery generated Skeena River summer steelhead index to September 3rd, including daily, cumulative and escapement estimate figures in addition to a summary table showing cumulative index data since 2000, overall and decadal averages, et cetera.

Commercial fishery activity in the Skeena River approach waters to date is attached, entitled: Skeena Commercial Openings 2009. The commercial fishery in Areas 3 and 4 ended on August 23rd. In 2009, there were a total of 3 days of gillnet fishing in Area 4 (chinook directed fisheries) and 10 days in Area 3 (sockeye directed fisheries); seines fished 7 days in Area 4 (pink salmon directed fisheries) and 16 days in Area 3 (sockeye and pink salmon directed fisheries)

The upper Sustut enumeration weir commenced fishing on July 31st. Recent escapements (2005 – 2008) have been considerably below desired levels (see attached: Sustut Fence Figures). Six hundred and fifty-one steelhead have been observed to September 3rd – the average for this date is 301 (range 52 (2006, 2007) to 691 (2004)). NB: The upper Sustut River steelhead are a genetically distinct population and not to be confused with the lower Sustut (Bear River and downstream) population.

A pilot, steelhead sonic tagging project was initiated this month; throughout the summer/fall, 65 tags will be placed on steelhead captured in the Moricetown Canyon dipnet and beach seine fisheries – the objective is to assess drop-back in order to calibrate the Moricetown Canyon mark-recapture derived steelhead abundance estimate. If you do recover a steelhead with a sonic transmitter attached to the base of the dorsal fin (see attached photo: Sonic Tag), please do not handle the transmitter but report the capture location, fish and tag condition via e-mail ( or telephone (250.847.7286). Approximately 41 sonic tags have been applied to date.

Summary Info:

The Tyee steelhead index to September 3rd is 136 - for comparison: lowest on record: 32 (1957); mean all years: 95; highest on record: 239 (1998)
The in-season Skeena River sockeye escapement estimate to August 22nd is approximately 878 600 - the pre-season forecast of 2.1 million has been downgraded, as we are now close to the end of this year’s sockeye migration to the Skeena River at Tyee; the year end prediction is currently less than one million
· The first steelhead was captured in the Moricetown Canyon mark-recapture fishery on the 24th of July - approximately 1000 steelhead have been captured at the beach seine and 1100 steelhead at the dipnet fishery since that time

Please contact me with questions/comments.

All the best.

\Mark Beere

Senior Fisheries Biologist

Skeena Region

NB: The regular caveat applies: The Tyee Test Fishery is a sockeye salmon test fishery; it is only calibrated for sockeye (via Babine River Weir counts). As such, Tyee catches are not standardized and therefore, comparing data between years or even individual days or gillnet sets is not valid in the strictest scientific sense. That said, the DFO use data from all salmon species for management, as we do for steelhead and the Skeena Independent Science Review Panel reported that the Tyee Test Fishery is the critical information gathering point for in-season management and for assessing abundance trends for steelhead. The fishery has operated in the same manner since 1956: a conventional gillnet vessel makes a 60 minute set with 200 fathoms (1200 feet) of net on every slack tide that occurs during daylight from May/early June to late August/early September.

No comments: