Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 2011 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP)

We are starting a series of posts examining the 2011 IFMP. This is the so called 'Fishing Plan' for 2011 that presents all the information and policies that DFO uses to manage the Skeena fish and fishery.

From the IFMP Foreword: "The purpose of this Integrated Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the Northern B.C. Pacific salmon fishery , as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO, the Department) staff, legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the
fisheries resource.
This IFMP is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister’s discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act. The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act."

You have to love DFO and their 154 page non-binding 'rough guide' to north coast salmon management....only a bureaucracy as poorly run as DFO can produce this stuff. 
Moving on, of particular interest to us is the section on the management of Skeena steelhead. Copied below is the Steelhead Section from the 2011 IFMP. Over the next few posts we'll examine the DFO position.

The entire 154 page IFMP can be read here: DFO IFMP's

5.1.7 Skeena Steelhead
The objective for Skeena steelhead, as well as all north coast steelhead, is to maintain
healthy stocks and rebuild weak stocks.
In November, 1991, the Department committed to reduce steelhead harvest rates in Skeena River approach water net fisheries. The base period (1985 to 1991) Area 4 steelhead harvest rate was estimated to be 36 percent, and a multi-sector committee negotiated a reduction of 42 percent resulting in a target Area 4 harvest rate for aggregate steelhead of 21 percent. In 1997, the target harvest rates were modified to include outer Area 3 and Area 5 as well. The modified target harvest rates became 24 percent for the aggregate steelhead stock and 37 percent for the early steelhead stock. In recent years, the steelhead impact in net fisheries has been well within these bounds, while 2006 saw the closest approach to these goals since 1998. Steelhead harvest rates in Areas 3, 4 and 5 were calculated in-season using the Skeena Management Model, and post season using a run reconstruction with actual run timing as observed by the Tyee test fishery.
However, this analysis stopped in 2007 while waiting for an independent panel to report on the Skeena fishery.
Prior to 2007, the results of the post season analyses were as follows:
                                          Steelhead          Early Steelhead
1985 – 91 Base Period            36%                    42%
Areas 3, 4 and 5
ceiling                                    24%                   37%
1994 Actual                            29%                   33%
1995 Actual                            25%                   34%
1996 Actual                            39%                   49%
1997 Actual                            31%                   39%
1998 Actual                            1%                      2%
1999 Actual                             0                        0
2000 Actual                             5%                   11%
2001 Actual                              9%                   15%
2002 Actual                             12%                  18%
2003 Actual                              6%                   9%
2004 Actual                              6%                   8%
2005 Actual                             1%                    2%

In 2006, steelhead impact was calculated to be within a range of from 18.4% to 29.7%. After the 2006 season, managers stopped using the jointly developed Provincial – DFO management model to estimate impacts in-season.
In 2007, the Provincial and Federal governments commissioned an expert panel of three eminent scientists to review the Skeena fishery. This resulted in the Report of the Skeena Independent Science Review Panel, submitted to both governments on May 15, 2008. This report contains 23 wide-ranging recommendations. Regarding steelhead, Recommendation 2 states: “There needs to be a careful and objective analysis of assertions by sports fishing interests that commercial fisheries have overharvested steelhead. This would address two objectives: (1) separate the effects of commercial fishing from a natural cyclic pattern that has been evident since the 1960s, and (2) determine whether early-run steelhead, in particular, has been overharvested. Available run timing and escapement data do not support such assertions for Skeena steelhead as a whole, and better quantitative information is needed to fully address these objectives.”
Since the report was released, the Province has undertaken steelhead assessment work on the Skeena. The results of these studies will be reviewed and may lend clarity to future management actions.
Steelhead retention throughout B.C. is prohibited in commercial fisheries, and all steelhead encountered must be released to the water with the least possible harm. Any Skeena commercial sockeye fishery will incorporate weedlines on all 90 mesh nets, daylight fisheries, revival tanks, and seine net brailing and sorting in order to minimize commercial net impacts to Steelhead.

In 2010, the Provincial Ministry of Environment specified their short and long term objectives
for north coast steelhead management, which are as follows:
The Ministry of Environment's short term objective for north coast steelhead is to decrease steelhead exposure rates to non-selective gear-types in successive years. This objective applies to non-selective fisheries only, not to selective gears such as brailed seines or in-river dip-net and beach seines. The Ministry of Environment's long term steelhead management objective is to reduce non-selective fishery mortality rates for steelhead to negligible levels so as to maximize steelhead escapement and the social, economic and ecological benefits that a robust Skeena River steelhead population provides, while at the same time ensuring that the commercial sockeye fishery is economically viable. This objective will also serve to improve the ecological standing of the sockeye fishery.
DFO and the Ministry of Environment are continuing to consult with First Nations and
stakeholders on Skeena River steelhead management and objectives that are acceptable to all

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