Annex to the Cohen Response 2017 Status Update: Recommendation Response Detail
In response to the complex picture that emerged after reviewing thousands of documents and hearing from nearly 200 witnesses and experts, Justice Cohen made 75 recommendations that are considered here under the themes of Wild Salmon Policy (WSP), Fisheries Management, Habitat, Aquaculture, and Science. Action on the Cohen recommendations is part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) ministerial mandate letter, and progress on these actions is tracked through the Departmental Results Report, which is publically available. Since the release of these recommendations, DFO has reviewed each recommendation to ensure that the Department is doing all that it can within its mandate and resources to address the health and long-term sustainability of Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks, as well as wild Pacific salmon more broadly. This document provides a detailed review, by theme, of the 75 recommendations and work in the past 12 months.
Wild Salmon Policy
The Cohen Commission included eight recommendations directing DFO to act further on Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon (the Wild Salmon Policy or WSP). Since August 2016, DFO has taken a number of steps in the development of a detailed five-year WSP Implementation Plan and has now acted on 75% of the WSP Cohen recommendations.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should immediately create a new position in the Pacific Region at the associate regional director general level with responsibility for
- developing and implementing the Wild Salmon Policy implementation plan recommended under Recommendation 5; and
- supervising the expenditure of funds provided under Recommendation 6 for implementation of the policy.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO is meeting the objective and intent of this recommendation without the creation of a separate position.
Action on the Cohen recommendations, including the recommendations related to the WSP Implementation Plan, is part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) ministerial mandate letter. Progress on these actions is tracked through the Departmental Results Report, which is publically available.
The Pacific RDG retains overall responsibility and accountability for the development and delivery of the WSP Implementation Plan. In support of this, the governance aspect of this recommendation has been addressed through the development of an integrated governance regime at the senior management level. There is a new Strategic Salmon Oversight Committee and two new State of Salmon positions have been created within Science. Regional Directors responsible for developing the WSP Implementation Plan, and implementing WSP-related programs and activities report to the Pacific RDG. See response to recommendation five for more information on the development of the WSP Implementation Plan.
The new associate regional director general should, by March 31, 2013, publish a detailed plan for implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy, stipulating
- what tasks are required;
- how they will be performed and by whom;
- when they will be completed; and
- how much implementation will cost, as set out in a detailed itemization of costs.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. The process for developing a detailed implementation plan for the Wild Salmon Policy was launched with initial broad consultations with First Nations and stakeholders in fall 2016. The Department drafted the initial draft Implementation Plan in collaboration with key partners throughout spring and summer 2017 and is planning extensive consultations on this document with First Nations, Indigenous groups, partners, stakeholders, and other interested parties across BC and Yukon throughout the fall of 2017. The final Implementation Plan, which will include clear initiatives, activities, timelines, and accountabilities, as well as a commitment to annual public reporting on progress, is anticipated in 2018.
The Government of Canada should establish dedicated Wild Salmon Policy funding sufficient to carry out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ implementation plan and to cover ongoing operational costs.
This recommendation was reported as directed at the Government of Canada in August 2016, and has been acted on. As highlighted in the Department’s August 2016 update on DFO’s response to the Cohen Recommendations, funding in DFO is attached to programs that implement policies, rather than policies that guide programs. In addition to ongoing core departmental funding, WSP implementation will be further supported by recent new investments: Budget 2016 investment in ocean and freshwater science, which has created three new science positions dedicated to salmon; the Oceans Protection Plan (2016), in particular the Coastal Restoration Fund; Budget 2017 funding for renewal and expansion of Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and to augment Indigenous collaborative management programming; and, following the Integrated Program review, additional annual funding starting in 2017 allocated to further support Pacific Salmon Treaty-related obligations, including salmon stock assessment, coded wire tagging, and catch monitoring.
The new associate regional director general responsible for implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy should, by March 31, 2014, and each anniversary thereafter during implementation, report in writing on progress in implementation of the policy, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should publish that report on its website. Each annual report should invite responses from First Nations and stakeholders, and all responses should be promptly published on the DFO website.
This recommendation is supported by DFO and remains outstanding. DFO will report out publically on an annual basis on WSP implementation progress once the WSP Implementation Plan has been completed and implementation has commenced.
By January 31, 2013, the new associate regional director general should decide whether the Habitat Management Program (Ecosystem Management Branch) or the Science Branch should take the lead role in implementing strategies 2 and 3 and what support should be provided by the other branch. The new associate regional director general should also identify who is responsible for, and set deadlines respecting, the following activities:
- preparing habitat status reports;
- monitoring and assessing habitat using the habitat indicators and benchmarks developed by Stalberg et al. and
- finalizing habitat indicators and benchmarks where possible.
The new associate regional director general should coordinate with the Habitat Management Program to ensure consistency in implementing both this Recommendation and Recommendation 41.
This recommendation is supported in principle and remains outstanding. Science branch will assume overall responsibility for deliverables under this recommendation. However, the habitat monitoring aspect of this recommendation will be impacted by the Government’s response to the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans entitled Review of changes made in 2012 to the Fisheries Act: Enhancing the Protection of Fish and Fish Habitat and the management of Canadian Fisheries tabled in the House of Commons on February 24, 2017. All recommendations from the review are supported by the Government. Any changes resulting from the review that will impact DFO’s response to this recommendation will occur following public consultations.
In order to begin integrated strategic planning under Strategy 4 in relation to Fraser River sockeye without further delay, these key deliverables should be completed according to the following schedule:
- By March 31, 2013, identification of red zone Conservation Units under Strategy 1, based on the Grant Draft Paper 2011;
- By September 30, 2013, preparation of overview reports for the Fraser River watershed and marine areas relevant to Fraser River sockeye salmon, based on the best available information at that time. Knowledge gaps of concern to the drafters should be identified in the overview reports and a plan developed to address those knowledge gaps;
- By December 31, 2013, development of habitat indicators and benchmarks for assessment for the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait, Johnstone Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on.
DFO completed identification of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon red zone conservation units in 2011 and published the results in 2012. A re-assessment of stock status was completed in June 2017 and the resulting Science Advisory Report will be available by early fall 2017. The Fraser River Sockeye Salmon conservation unit status results will inform fisheries management, habitat, and hatchery enhancement work. This information will also inform an upcoming Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessment in the fall of 2017.
Habitat indicator identification and benchmarks development for freshwater and estuary ecosystems have been developed by DFO as described in response to recommendation 69 and Stalberg et al. (2009).
As part of the implementation of Strategy 4 in relation to Fraser River sockeye, these key deliverables should be completed according to the following schedule:
- By March 31, 2013, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should complete a socio-economic framework for decision making in the integrated strategic planning process; it should also integrate meaningful socio-economic input into fisheries management decision-making, beginning with planning for the 2014 fishing season.
- By January 31, 2014, integrated strategic planning processes should begin for Fraser River sockeye salmon using the best currently available information and following the procedure outlined in Appendix 2 (a structured five-step planning procedure) of the Wild Salmon Policy.
- By March 31, 2013, response teams should be formed for all Conservation Units in the red zone and for those that could significantly limit fishing and other activities.
- By December 31, 2014, response teams should complete plans for the protection and restoration of priority Conservation Units, and in developing such plans, they should give full consideration to approaches beyond curtailing fisheries.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. DFO has taken several steps to address this recommendation. DFO has implemented conservation provisions to protect red zone conservation units (CUs) in Integrated Fishery Management Plans (IFMPs), and targeted restoration work has been completed; work is ongoing to complete mapping of the restoration work. Ongoing work on the Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) between Canada and the United States contributes to the understanding of socio-economic frameworks by identifying the value of salmon fisheries.
The recently announced Coastal Restoration Fund under the Oceans Protection Plan (2016) will further the action on this recommendation.
An independent body such as the office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development should report to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and to the public as follows:
- By March 31, 2014, and every two years thereafter during implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy, on progress in implementing the policy in relation to Fraser River sockeye salmon.
- By September 30, 2015, on the extent to which and the manner in which this Commission’s recommendations have been implemented.
This recommendation is considered acted upon as DFO complies with all external reviews as they are requested by the Government of Canada, and/or Parliament. For instance, DFO officials reported progress on actions taken to address the Cohen Commission’s recommendations through an update to the House Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on May 4, 2017 (https://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/FOPO/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=9487503) as well as Question Period. DFO complies with requests from the public and has responded to all access to information requests related to the Cohen Commission received between 2012 and 2017. DFO is acting on the intent of this recommendation through the development of the WSP Implementation Plan and the associated commitment to public reporting on the status of the implementation on an annual basis.
Fifteen of the Cohen Commission recommendations address the theme of Fisheries Management. Fourteen of these recommendations have been acted on, an increase to 93%, and many of the recommendations are now fully incorporated into the operations of DFO and its work with First Nations, partners and stakeholders. Work to address the final recommendation is anticipated to begin in the next year.
In relation to Fraser River sockeye, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should follow the principle that the Minister is the ultimate authority in decisions about conservation, fisheries management (subject to the Pacific Salmon Treaty), and, within areas of federal jurisdiction, fish habitat. DFO should consistently reflect this principle in all its agreements and processes with First Nations and stakeholders.
This recommendation has been acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm).
In relation to wild fisheries, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should act in accordance with its paramount regulatory objective to conserve wild fish.
This recommendation has been acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm).
Within 30 days of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans approving the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP), the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should make public the rationale for the harvest rules set out in the Fraser River Sockeye Decision Guidelines section of the IFMP.
This recommendation has been acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm).
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by September 30, 2013, complete its planned review of the Fraser River Sockeye Spawning Initiative model and address the criticisms of the model:
- whether the maximum total allowable mortality as a function of run size should be 60 percent;
- whether the model could more explicitly state what values are being weighed and how they are weighed; and
- whether habitat considerations and large escapements could be brought into escapement planning.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should ensure that all Fraser River sockeye salmon fisheries are monitored at an enhanced level (achieving catch estimates within 5 percent of actual harvest, with greater than 20 percent independent validation). To meet this objective, DFO should:
- enforce penalties for non-compliance with catch-reporting requirements;
- confirm the role of fishery officers in reporting illegal harvest numbers to fisheries managers and establish a system to incorporate such numbers into official catch estimates;
- establish a program for independent catch validation;
- provide sufficient and stable funding to support enhanced catch-monitoring programs; and
- treat commercial and Aboriginal economic opportunity fishers equally regarding any requirement of fishers to contribute toward the cost of catch monitoring, subject to any accommodation required in support of an exercise of an Aboriginal right.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. Conservation and Protection (C&P) continues to allocate its resources in a manner that concentrates on the highest priority fisheries activities, these being conservation closures and weaker stock management or protection measures. This resource focus addresses the need to enforce penalties for non-compliance with catch-reporting requirements.
Work is continuing on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Fisheries Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries (the Framework). The Framework directs that an ecological risk assessment be undertaken for all fisheries to determine the level of monitoring required to provide the information necessary to manage for the ecosystem risks posed by a fishery, while allowing for final monitoring and reporting programs to reflect the fishery's unique characteristics.
Risk assessments are performed using a tool that provides for a consistent approach to a structured conversation regarding ecological risk and other resource management considerations. For salmon in BC, the draft risk assessments on the 35 salmon management units as per the Integrated Fishing Management Plan (which include all commercial, recreational and food, social, and ceremonial fisheries) are planned to be initially completed by DFO, then presented to harvesters for review, comment, and revision through existing advisory processes established for fisheries management purposes. A work plan for the salmon risk assessments is currently being developed.
Progress has been made through Aboriginal funding programs and inland demonstration fishery participants to transition to a monitoring cost recovery model that is consistent with catch monitoring costs for commercial fisheries. In certain instances, program dollars support catch monitoring activities, and DFO continues to work towards equal requirements to contribute to the cost of catch monitoring. Accommodations have been made in specific cases (i.e. Ahousaht) where economic opportunity fisheries are supported in the context of Aboriginal rights.
Following consultation with First Nations, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should:
- articulate a clear working definition for food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) fishing; and
- assess, and adjust if necessary, all existing FSC allocations in accordance with that definition.
This recommendation is outstanding. As stated last August, DFO has an ongoing process for determining food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) allocations.
DFO considers FSC allocations on a nation to nation basis, based on consultations and negotiations with these groups. In the Pacific Region, criteria include FSC community needs, conservation concerns, species availability and abundance, allocations to other Indigenous groups, other valid legislative objectives, and manageability of the resource.
DFO is in the process of developing a Consultation Strategy to engage Indigenous groups on fisheries access and allocation issues, including FSC. DFO is interested in hearing views from BC Indigenous people on how the consultation process could be structured.
In the context of negotiating an agreement with a specific First Nation, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage the First Nation to provide DFO with information on its practices, customs, and traditions that is relevant in determining its food, social, and ceremonial needs.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by September 30, 2013, complete its analysis of the socioeconomic implications of implementing the various share-based management models for the Fraser River sockeye fishery, decide which model is preferable, and, promptly thereafter, implement that model.
This recommendation was reported as acted on in August 2016. As mentioned in the August 2016 report, the Department has undertaken considerable consultations with commercial harvesters and First Nations to update commercial salmon allocation arrangements over the last several years as part of work to update the Commercial Salmon Allocation Framework (CSAF). Most recently, DFO collaborated with the First Nations Salmon Coordinating Committee (SCC) and other partners to determine a model of approach for managing fisheries, including Fraser River Sockeye Salmon stocks. The model that resulted from this collaboration allows for the Area Harvest Committee and First Nations to decide on the management approaches that best meet the needs of their fisheries participants, subject to the conservation objectives for their region.
In 2015, and based on recommendations from First Nations SCC and the Commercial Salmon Advisory Board (CSAB), the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada approved several changes to the commercial salmon allocation framework including:
- Defined shares for commercial fleets at the species, fleet and fishery production area for a period of five years, with provisions to review the allocations after year four, starting in 2015;
- A set of principles and operation guidelines that would form the basis of incremental testing of flexibilities (alternative fishing locations and methods) to harvest shares, with potential testing starting in 2016, prior to wider implementation;
- The development of revised collaboration advisory process to coordinate the collective interests of First Nations economic fishery and area A-H commercial fleet fisheries.
Since these updates were approved, First Nations SCC and CSAB members have continued to meet with the Department to consider opportunities for implementing these changes.
Progress has also been made through operating demonstration fisheries in both freshwater and marine areas. In 2016, 10 demonstration fisheries occurred in the Pacific Region advancing shore-based management. No demonstration fisheries occurred for Fraser River Sockeye Salmon in 2016, due to low returns. In 2017, an additional 26 shore-based fisheries have been approved in the Pacific Region, although Fraser River Sockeye Salmon demonstration fisheries are unlikely to occur due to low returns.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should conduct the research and analysis necessary to determine whether in-river demonstration fisheries are, or are capable of, achieving tangible conservation benefits or providing economic benefits to First Nations in an economically viable or sustainable way before it takes further action in expanding in-river demonstration fisheries.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should develop its future policies and practices on the reallocation of the commercial Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery (including allocations for marine and in-river fisheries) in an inclusive and transparent manner, following a strategic and integrated planning process such as Action Step 4.2 of the Wild Salmon Policy.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, at a minimum, fund its enforcement activities, including overflight, on-the-ground, and on-the-water fishery officer presence, to ensure the same level of enforcement that was achieved in response to the Honourable Bryan Williams’ 2004 Southern Salmon Fishery Post-Season Review, plus amounts necessary for aquaculture-related enforcement.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO will continue to enhance enforcement activities and efforts that focus on better collaboration with First Nations, partners and stakeholders, while prioritizing work and finding efficiencies. Conservation and Protection (C&P) is currently reviewing opportunities to staff up to four fishery officers in the Lower Fraser. In the interim, C&P continues to rotate officers into Lower Fraser from elsewhere in the region to meet peak demands.
The Aquaculture Program is responsible for verifying compliance with the conditions of licenc es issued to all marine finfish and shellfish aquaculture sites, as well as all freshwater, inland aquaculture sites in British Columbia.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada should, by September 30, 2013, renegotiate their relationship in regard to Environment Canada’s responsibility to enforce section 36 of the Fisheries Act in the Pacific Region in accordance with the 2009 report from the office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Clarification should include each department’s respective roles and responsibilities with respect to communication, sharing of information, and joint planning of Fisheries Act activities.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada should improve the ability of their on-the-ground staff to co-operate and respond to occurrences by conducting joint training and joint investigation post-mortems and by sharing resources and expenses in remote locations where feasible.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. DFO and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recognize the importance of maintaining good communication channels. Both DFO and ECCC continue to seek, where appropriate, joint training opportunities and to formalize current communication protocols that will result in improving the effectiveness of ground staff to do their job and enhance the overall working relationship between the departments. Some examples are listed below:
- ECCC provided DFO officers with training sessions on the enforcement of s. 36(3) of the Fisheries Act with regards to aquaculture (2015, 2017), participated in DFO Fishery Officers’ surveillance training, and annually conducts joint training with use of force and firearms requalification.
- The ECCC Enforcement Branch has joint management meetings with DFO on compliance promotion on an annual basis.
- ECCC and DFO conduct joint intelligence probes, patrols, and inspections.
- The two departments share information about investigations and intelligence work.
- Work is underway to have ECCC enforcement officers participate in DFO’s mid-shore patrol program.
- ECCC, DFO and Health Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Cooperation in the Implementation of Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act (MOU; 2015) and are finalizing a Detailed Enforcement Implementation Plan (DEIP; 2017).
The MOU and DEIP detail and formalize
- Roles and responsibilities during enforcement activities, including provision of information and resources necessary for the enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions;
- Operational guidance for the enforcement of the Fisheries Act, in particular for issues related to deposits of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish as it pertains to aquaculture facilities, as well as for issues regarding deposits of sediment into water frequented by fish;
- The sharing of information and cooperation with Health Canada on activities that may have implications on the enforcement of the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) as it pertains to aquaculture facilities.
The DEIP also provides that participants will support each other based on their areas of expertise, including conducting joint inspections/investigations, provision of technical/scientific support and/or regulatory information. It also establishes the Enforcement Implementation Committee to guide and coordinate the activities under the DEIP.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should not include in fishing licences a clause that allows for retention of “mortally wounded” Fraser River sockeye salmon.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should consider the cumulative effects of stressors on Fraser River sockeye health and habitat in its management of fisheries and fish habitat.
This recommendation was as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO partially incorporates cumulative effects of stressors in the management of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon to address unfavourable migration conditions. The Department monitors Fraser River temperature, discharge and run timing, and makes management adjustments to account for adverse environmental conditions by reducing allowable harvests to provide additional fish to migrate toward spawning grounds to support escapement objectives. In addition, environmental information is increasingly incorporated into forecasting.
Nineteen recommendations relate to habitat protection and restoration, including 11 directed to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Province of BC. Two of these recommendations are directed toward a team (Regional Environmental Emergency Team) that no longer exists. Thirteen of the 17 current recommendations have been acted on, an increase to 76%.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should complete implementation of the 1986 Habitat Policy. By March 31, 2013, DFO should, for the benefit of Fraser River sockeye salmon, set out a detailed plan addressing these points:
- How DFO will work toward a net gain in productive capacity of Fraser River sockeye habitat by conserving existing habitat, restoring damaged habitat, and developing new habitats;
- How DFO will measure the amount of productive capacity of Fraser River sockeye habitat in order to assess whether the net gain objective is being achieved on an ongoing basis;
- How DFO will take into account the cumulative impact on Fraser River sockeye habitat potentially arising from individual projects that are currently considered only on a project-by-project basis, if at all;
- How the tasks will be performed, and by whom;
- When the tasks will be completed; and
- How much implementation will cost, as set out in a detailed itemization of costs.
The Habitat Management Program should coordinate with the new associate regional director general (proposed in Recommendation 4) to ensure consistency in implementing this Recommendation and Recommendation 8.
As reported in August 2016, the outcomes of the current review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act will provide an opportunity to reconsider this recommendation; the recommendation remains outstanding. In 2012 the Habitat Policy and Habitat Management Program were replaced with the Fisheries Protection Policy Statement and the Fisheries Protection Program (FPP), respectively. As a result of these changes, the goal of the FPP in applying the Fisheries Protection Policy Statement is to maintain the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries (e.g. Fraser River Sockeye Salmon), and the focus of the program is making regulatory decisions under section 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act.
DFO’s current legislative and policy framework, including the Fisheries Act Fisheries Protection Provisions, provide for the ongoing productivity and sustainability of fish that are a part of, or that support commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries (e.g. Fraser River Sockeye Salmon). The current offsetting policy requires consideration of restoration priorities in watersheds that are affected by individual developments or targeted for offsetting. Development, restoration or enhancement of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon habitat continues to be considered where appropriate to offset proposed serious harm.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should strengthen the monitoring component of DFO’s Habitat Management Program as follows:
- require that project proponents relying on operational statements and best management practices notify DFO before beginning work on their proposed projects;
- fully implement compliance monitoring of projects whether or not the projects are reviewed in advance by DFO, including those falling under the Riparian Areas Regulation;
- implement effectiveness monitoring, including for activities under the Riparian Areas Regulation; and
- give Habitat Management Program staff discretion to require, on a project-by-project basis, measures that are additional to those set out in operational statements and best management practices.
As reported in August 2016, in coordination with, and complementary to, the review of the changes to the Fisheries Act, the Government is undertaking a review of current monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities to identify and implement improved processes for carrying out these activities; the recommendation remains outstanding.
The Fisheries Protection Program (FPP) continues to work strategically with the Province of BC through the DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee to coordinate operational implementation of the provincial Riparian Areas Regulations, and to look for opportunities for collaboration on compliance and effectiveness monitoring consistent with the inter-governmental cooperation agreement between BC, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and DFO.
The Department does not currently require project proponents to notify DFO before beginning work on low risk projects as long as specific criteria and best management practices outlined on the “Projects near Water” website (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/index-eng.html) are followed; the outcomes from the review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act may result in changes.
As part of the FPP project review process, program staff review projects near water to determine if serious harm can be avoided, and where appropriate, make recommendations for mitigation additional to the measures to protect provided on the “Project near Water” website.
FPP conducts a range of monitoring activities consistent with the Regional Strategic Monitoring Strategy implemented in 2014/15. FPP conducts compliance monitoring of projects to determine compliance with the Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, and with the conditions of any relevant Fisheries Act authorizations and Species at Risk permits. Monitoring is also undertaken to determine conformity with lower risk projects following web-based mitigation measures or project-specific guidance (e.g. Letter of Advice). Monitoring is undertaken by DFO directly by way of site visits prior to, during and following construction activities. Proponents are also required to conduct monitoring as set out in conditions by DFO to ensure that they are in compliance with the applicable legislation and permits. These monitoring reports are submitted to DFO for review and compliance verification.
FPP continues to strive to conduct effectiveness monitoring of mitigation and offsetting measures to avoid, mitigate or offset serious harm; however, program capacity to conduct this type of monitoring is limited at present. Further consideration of the implementation of direct effectiveness monitoring of DFO review projects, or other activities, may be considered as part of the outcomes from the review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act.
Total Monitoring Activities recorded since April 2012:
- Site Visits – field compliance monitoring: 257
- Monitoring Reports received: 1155
- Monitoring Reports reviewed: 569
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage the Province of British Columbia to resolve differences of interpretation on the application of section 9 of the provincial Water Act and the provincial Riparian Areas Regulation to ensure that there are no physical gaps in coverage of the Water Act and the Riparian Areas Regulation.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation falls primarily under the mandate of the Province of BC, and has been acted on. The Riparian Areas Regulation is being amended, and the new Water Sustainability Act was brought into force on February 29, 2016, to ensure a sustainable supply of fresh, clean water.
The Water Sustainability Act is the principal law for managing the diversion and use of water resources and provides important tools for protecting, managing and using water efficiently throughout BC. Key changes under the Water Sustainability Act and related new regulations include stronger protection for aquatic ecosystems which will indirectly support wild salmon populations.
Collaboration between DFO and the Province of BC on ecosystem protection measures is further detailed in response to recommendation 48.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage the Province of British Columbia
- to continue to monitor compliance with the provincial Riparian Areas Regulation;
- to conduct effectiveness monitoring of projects completed in compliance with the Riparian Areas Regulation; and
- to consider DFO’s input into the impact of Riparian Areas Regulation setback variances on fish and fish habitat.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was directed at the Province of BC, and has been acted on.
BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNR) continue to review all Riparian Area Regulations assessment reports submitted and provide individual guidance to Qualified Environmental Professionals. Field audits of compliance are ongoing, and the results of the auditing are presented publically as part of Riparian Areas Regulation annual reports. FLNR has worked with DFO through the DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee to develop approved messaging on variances and clarify the respective agencies’ roles. FLNR has taken a substantive step to the development of an effectiveness monitoring strategy for Riparian Areas Regulation with the development of a draft framework, completed in early 2017.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should work with the Province of British Columbia to achieve the Riparian Areas Regulation target of 90 percent compliance with 90 percent confidence levels.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was directed at the Province of BC, and has been acted on.
In 2017, BC advised that Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNR) continue to work to achieve the 90% compliance target of the Riparian Areas Regulation. Recent discussions with DFO staff on procedures with regard to Fisheries Act authorization requests for Riparian Areas Regulation projects will significantly support this work. DFO and BC staff support a Riparian Areas Regulation Working Group to implement the regulation as required and address any issues that arise as the regulation is being amended. The working group will outline DFO and BC roles and responsibilities once the Riparian Areas Regulation amendments are complete, including revisions to the intergovernmental cooperation agreement on Riparian Areas Regulation; the working group reports up to the DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage the Province of British Columbia to amend the Riparian Areas Regulation
- to require provincial approval of setback variances; and
- to require local governments to enforce compliance with the assessment reports on which development proposals are approved.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was directed at the Province of BC, and has been acted on.
The Province of BC is in receipt of a letter from DFO dated June 22, 2016, that supports the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNR) in pursuing amendments to the Riparian Areas Regulation that do not contemplate a role for DFO in variances (i.e. outside the authority of DFO); amendments to Riparian Areas Regulation are currently ongoing. In keeping with this information, FLNR intends to include a setback variance procedure in the proposed amendments to Riparian Areas Regulation. Work continues through the recently implemented DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee and related Riparian Areas Regulation Working Group between DFO and BC on this matter.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage the Province of British Columbia to complete modernization of the Water Act, which would include the following points:
- regulation of groundwater extraction in a manner that addresses the needs of Fraser River sockeye;
- increased reporting and monitoring of water use; and
- allocation of sufficient resources to complete the modernization process.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was directed at the Province of BC, and has been acted on. The new Water Sustainability Act was passed in 2014.
The Water Sustainability Act and the first phase of regulations were brought into force by the Province of BC on February 29, 2016. The legislation and regulations include new water rights and licensing requirements for non-domestic groundwater users (e.g. industrial, agricultural), as well as stronger protection for aquatic ecosystems including the requirement to consider environmental flow needs when authorizing water use.
Along with developing the new Water Sustainability Act and regulations, BC completed a review of water pricing and announced new fee and rental rates in February 2015.
The new fees and rentals are intended to generate sufficient funds to recover the costs of implementing the new Water Sustainability Act. Work on measuring and reporting is part of a second phase of regulations that is being developed.
DFO continues to work with the BC on these initiatives through the DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should re-engage in managing the impact of forestry activities on Fraser River sockeye by:
- reviewing proposed forestry activities that may cause harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat under section 35 of the Fisheries Act, protocols for receiving operational plans / referrals, riparian standards for small streams and their tributaries, and the circumstances in which watershed assessments are required; and
- identifying an individual in DFO with regional responsibility to serve as forestry contact person for the Pacific Region to provide support to Habitat Management Program area offices, to provide a consistent approach throughout the region with respect to forestry activities and referrals, and to select policy issues and make recommendations to senior management.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. The recommendation is now considered outstanding and the outcomes of the current review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act will provide an opportunity to reconsider this recommendation.
As part of implementing the Fisheries Protection Program, DFO continues to coordinate and work with the Province of BC on a variety of areas of common interest through the DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee. The provincial Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA) outlines how all forest and range practices and resource-based activities are to be conducted on Crown land in BC, while ensuring protection of everything in and on them, such as plants, animals (including fish) and ecosystems. With the shift to the Fisheries Protection Program, DFO has only had limited engagement with BC on forestry standards and guidelines development, and relies on their tools and expertise in these matters.
Forestry activities that have the potential to cause serious harm to fish are still subject to the Fisheries Protection Provisions of the Fisheries Act and have the Request for Review or Application for Authorizations processes to follow to ensure activities are compliant with the Fisheries Act.
Responsibility for decision making about post-emergency mitigation and long-term monitoring of the impact of marine spills should be moved from the Canadian Coast Guard to the Environment Canada co-chair of the Regional Environmental Emergency Team.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation is considered out of date with respect to the Regional Environmental Emergency Team (REET) model and no further action is required. Since 2012, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) moved to a nationally centralized structure for delivering its scientific and technical advice, thus ending the REET. ECCC’s National Environmental Emergencies Centre is available to provide scientific and technical advice to responders, leads, and other implicated agencies in the event of an emergency pollution incident, including marine spills. The new Ocean’s Protection Program will, along with other objectives, create a world leading marine safety system that improves responsible shipping and protects Canada’s waters including new preventive and response measures. The Oceans Protection Plan will involve a review of the legislation related to environmental emergencies.
Membership of the Regional Environmental Emergency Team should always include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Habitat Management Program (Ecosystem Management Branch) and Science staff.
Although this recommendation was reported as out of date in August 2016, the objective of the recommendation has been acted on. While the Regional Environmental Emergency Team (REET) model has ended (see recommendation 49), the Incident Command System is in full use by the federal government during environmental emergencies. Under the Incident Command System structure, DFO has a range of technical and scientific experts that will be mobilized as required to support the Environmental Unit under the Planning Section of the Incident Command System, including habitat biologists, oceans planning staff, marine mammal experts, contaminated sites biologists, resource management biologists, and science staff covering a wide range of disciplines and expertise.
The Environment Canada co-chair of the Regional Environmental Emergency Team should, when considering whether to follow the team’s advice regarding post-emergency mitigation and long-term monitoring, take account of the impact of the marine spill on fish and fish habitat, logistics, ecosystem values, cost recovery, and socio-economic effects.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation is considered out of date with respect to the Regional Environmental Emergency Team (REET) model and no further action is required (see recommendation 49). ECCC provides scientific and technical advice to responders, leads, and other implicated agencies in the event of an emergency pollution incident, including marine spills, through its National Environmental Emergencies Centre. The Incident Command System in use during emergencies is well established follow the Incident Command System principles and doctrine, which allow for these factors to be taken into consideration. The new Oceans Protection Program will provide for Regional Response Planning and baseline information on fish and fish habitat, ecosystems values and other aspects which can then be taken into account in emergency response.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should identify an individual in DFO who has regional responsibility to act as a liaison with the Canadian Coast Guard, Environment Canada, and the Province of British Columbia on marine habitat spill response.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on; positions and capacity in DFO have been identified to take on this responsibility at the executive level and on a rotating basis at the response coordination/technical level. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm).
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Environment Canada (EC) should co-operate in regularly testing and monitoring fresh and marine water for contaminants of emerging concern and for endocrine-disrupting chemicals affecting Fraser River sockeye salmon.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and DFO. ECCC administers section 36 of the Fisheries Act, the key pollution prevention provision, prohibiting the deposit of any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter its quality such that it could be harmful to fish, fish habitat or the use of fish by people. In addition, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999) requires that ECCC conduct research on the effects of pollution on environmental quality, the nature and dispersion of pollution on ecosystems, pollution prevention and the control and abatement of pollution. The Act requires the Government of Canada to maintain a system for monitoring environmental quality in Canada, maintain environmental quality data and monitor ocean disposal sites. It also requires the Minister of ECCC and the Minister of Health to conduct research and studies specifically on hormone disrupting substances and measures to prevent or control the risks associated with these substances.
DFO funds research on the biological effects of contaminants on fish through its National Contaminants Advisory Group at Canadian universities and partner agencies. Studies on Pacific salmon include the effects of diluted bitumen exposure on early life stages of Sockeye Salmon, environmental effects of diluted bitumen on Pacific salmon, effects of current-use pesticides on salmon in the Fraser River Basin, and the environmental fate and effects of sea lice pesticides. More generally, DFO has also supported assessments of the adverse effects of emerging chemical contaminants including pharmaceuticals and personal care products, nanoparticles, and brominated flame retardants on fisheries of commercial, Aboriginal, and recreational value to Canadians.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should encourage the Province of British Columbia
- to require users of pesticides in forestry and agriculture to record, and report annually to the province, the areas where pesticides were applied and the amounts used; and
- to develop and maintain a pesticide-use database that includes information on location, volume / concentration, and timing of use, and make that information publicly available.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was directed at the Province of BC and has been acted on. DFO encourages BC to monitor, report and disseminate information on pesticide use. Research on the impacts of pesticide use has been shared with the Province of BC. BC requires users to report pesticide use, and has the ability to provide information on total use.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada should co-operatively:
- ensure that environmental quality monitoring and environmental effects monitoring related to pulp and paper, metal mining, and municipal wastewater discharges include consideration of Fraser River sockeye salmon, and the two federal departments should work with the Province of British Columbia and with regional and municipal governments to that end;
- work with BC municipalities on a public education campaign aimed at reducing toxicants in municipal wastewater, especially pharmaceuticals and personal-care products; and
- immediately recommence their participation in the Metro Vancouver Environmental Monitoring Committee.
The August 2016 report indicated the action taken by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC); this recommendation has been acted on by both ECCC and DFO to the extent that it aligns with their mandates. Work continues through the recently implemented DFO-BC Fish Habitat Committee.
Canada should promptly finalize the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations to include:
- public reporting on environmental effects monitoring results;
- ongoing environmental effects monitoring requirements similar to those found in the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations and in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations; and
- environmental effects monitoring of contaminants of emerging concern and endocrine-disrupting chemicals discharging from large wastewater treatment facilities.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation falls under the mandate of Environment and Climate Change Canada and has been acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm).
Canada should finalize a regulatory strategy to limit the impact of wastewater bio solids on fisheries resources.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation falls under the mandate of Environment and Climate Change Canada and has been as acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm). Water regulations will be implemented by 2020.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should restore powers of inspection to Habitat Management Program staff.
As reported in August 2016 the outcomes of the ongoing review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act will provide an opportunity to reconsider this recommendation; the recommendation remains outstanding.
As also reported in August 2016, DFO has made a clear differentiation between the functions and responsibilities of DFO’s enforcement and regulatory project review staff. As a result, fishery officers perform investigative and enforcement activities, while Fisheries Protection Program staff provide advice, expertise and direction on enforcement activities conducted by fishery officers.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should re-establish within the Conservation and Protection Branch in the Pacific Region at least one specialized habitat fishery officer whose duties would include
- acting as the go-to person for habitat occurrences and investigations throughout the region;
- working closely with the Habitat Management Program with access to its Program Activity Tracking for Habitat database;
- overseeing the training and mentoring of fishery officers for habitat investigations; and
- recording habitat occurrences and ensuring that there are responses to them.
In August 2016, it was reported that the Habitat Management Program aspect of this recommendation is out of date, although DFO supported acting on parts of the recommendation. This recommendation has been acted on.
Since the change to the Fisheries Protection Program (FPP), the Habitat Occurrence Management process has been changed so that all habitat occurrences are reported through the FPP Triage Unit. Since 2013, assigned FPP staff receive, assess and respond to all habitat occurrences reported in Pacific Region following a process consistent with the defined roles outlined in the updated National Fisheries Protection Compliance Protocol between Ecosystem Management Sector and Conservation and Protection Directorate (C&P). In the revised 2015 Protocol, FPP is responsible for managing the overall habitat occurrences process and C&P is responsible for conducting all compel activities related to noncompliance incidents received from FPP. FPP coordinates with C&P to implement habitat occurrences activities following the protocol and continues to look for opportunities to develop compliance, tools, compliance/enforcement training and overall habitat occurrence coordination.
Thirteen recommendations focus on the risks, and mitigation of risks, of aquaculture operations on the health of wild Pacific salmon. As indicated in 2016, 11 (86%) of these recommendations have been acted on.
The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product.
As reported in August 2016, no further action is required on this recommendationbut the Department is actively working to improve public reporting and transparency in its work. In addition, however, enforcement, regulatory and promotion activities related to aquaculture will be discussed as the Department works with provincial and territorial partners, First Nations, industry, and communities on legislative reforms, including the development of a federal Aquaculture Act, as recommended by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
In December 2010, a BC Supreme Court decision ruled that finfish aquaculture is a fishery and therefore falls under federal jurisdiction. As a result, DFO set up the British Columbia Aquaculture Regulatory Program (BCARP) to oversee farming of fish in BC. BCARP derives its mandated activities from the Fisheries Act, Pacific Aquaculture Regulations and Fishery (General) Regulations. BCARP regulations manage the impacts of aquaculture on the environment and on fisheries resources to ensure sustainability.
The fish and seafood sector is highly export oriented; about 75% of production is exported. The Government of Canada's responsibility for the fish and seafood industry is split between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) which regulates and manages the production end of the business (wild or farmed fish when they are in the water) and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) which provides market-development and traceability support. Additionally, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sets the policies, requirements and inspection standards. The promotion of Canadian foods to international markets is the responsibility of Global Affairs Canada (GAC). DFO’s Trade and International Market Access Directorate provides subject matter expertise to support AAFC and GAC with their seafood marketing and trade mandates.
In order to provide a longer time series of data on which to test for relationships between stressors found at salmon farms and the health of Fraser River sockeye salmon, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should continue to require the collection of fish health data directly from operators of salmon farms and through DFO audits.
For research purposes beyond routine monitoring, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should require, as a condition of licence, that the operator of a salmon farm provide, on reasonable demand by DFO, fish samples, including live fish or fresh silvers (recently deceased fish), in a quantity and according to a protocol specified by DFO.
This recommendation has been acted on. DFO supports the intent of this recommendation, and collects fish from aquaculture operations for monitoring and research purposes.
Requiring fish samples as a condition of licenc e is not necessary. DFO fishery officers and fish health staff, who are designated fishery guardians, have the authority under section 49 of the Fisheries Act to collect fish samples from salmon farms during facility inspections and audits. In addition to samples provided by industry, DFO fish health staff collect their own samples to maintain integrity of the specimen for research and audits. DFO also participates in research projects, such as the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative, where samples are collected under agreements with farm operators.
Section 49 of the Fisheries Act allows for fish sample collection. For example
- DFO’s fish health staff who perform sampling at farms are all designated as fishery guardians and therefore have the authority to collect fish under this provision.
- A fishery officer or guardian may enter and inspect any place, including any premises, vessel or vehicle, in which the officer or guardian believes on reasonable grounds there is any work or undertaking or any fish or other thing in respect of which the Fisheries Act applies. The officer or guardian may
- open any container that the officer or guardian believes on reasonable grounds contains any fish or other thing in respect of which the Act or the regulations apply;
- examine any fish or other thing that the officer or guardian finds and take samples of it.
Beginning immediately and continuing until at least September 30, 2020, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should ensure that:
- the maximum duration of any licence issued under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations for a net-pen salmon farm in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) does not exceed one year;
- DFO does not issue new licences for net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2); and
- DFO does not permit increases in production at any existing net-pen salmon farm in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2).
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should explicitly consider proximity to migrating Fraser River sockeye when siting salmon farms.
After seeking comment from First Nations and stakeholders, and after responding to challenge by scientific peer review, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by March 31, 2013, and every five years thereafter, revise salmon farm siting criteria to reflect new scientific information about salmon farms situated on or near Fraser River sockeye salmon migration routes as well as the cumulative effects of these farms on these sockeye.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should apply revised siting criteria to all licensed salmon farm sites. Farms that no longer comply with siting criteria should be promptly removed or relocated to sites that comply with current siting criteria.
This recommendation has been acted on. As reported in August 2016 (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm), existing farms are managed through conditions of licence. These conditions of licence, among other things, require companies to manage relevant issues outlined in the Siting Guidelines. In circumstances where a farm does not adequately meet the conditions of licence, work is undertaken to examine mitigation options, which may include relocation.
If at any time between now and September 30, 2020, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans determines that net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon, he or she should promptly order that those salmon farms cease operations.
This recommendation has been acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm). As well, see the response to recommendation 20, which details ongoing research to support this recommendation.
On September 30, 2020, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans should prohibit net-pen salmon farming in the Discovery Islands (fish health sub-zone 3-2) unless he or she is satisfied that such farms pose at most a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon. The Minister’s decision should summarize the information relied on and include detailed reasons. The decision should be published on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ website.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation is outstanding as the timeline for a decision is September 30, 2020. See the response to recommendation 20, which details ongoing research to support this recommendation.
To inform the decision under Recommendation 19, the Minister and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should take the following steps:
- conduct the research and analyses recommended in Recommendation 68 and publish the results of this research;
- assess any relationships between salmon farming variables compiled in the fish health database and Fraser River sockeye health or productivity.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. See the August 2016 report for more information (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/cohen/report-rapport-eng.htm). Ongoing research is detailed below.
DFO is collaborating with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the University of British Columbia, and Genome BC to conduct the research and analyses on the health of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon as recommended in recommendation 68. In addition to fish health data collecting, audits are being used to identify spatial patterns of diseases beyond those reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and of novel agents. Research from this initiative has produced two published papers in the last six months, with five more scientific papers under development.
Since the implementation of the DFO aquaculture management program in 2010, there has been no net increase in production in farmed salmon in the Discovery Islands, and no new farms have been licensed within this area. Scientific research is currently being conducted on disease risks, which is due by 2020. Initial research includes a recent Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) process to assess the risk to Fraser River Sockeye Salmon due to Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV) transfer from Atlantic Salmon farms to wild fish in the Discovery Islands area of British Columbia. This report is scheduled to be published in fall 2017. Further research is planned to assess the potential risks posed by a variety of other diseases and pathogens. DFO scientists were in consultations over the spring and summer 2017 to determine which pathogens will be the subject of the next risk assessment study.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by September 30, 2013, establish conditions of licence and a monitoring / compliance program in relation to salmonid enhancement facilities which contains the following minimum elements:
- mandatory standard operating practices and record keeping;
- mandatory fish health management plans for all salmon enhancement facilities, whether DFO, provincial, or Community Economic Development Program; and
- audits / site visits of all enhancement facilities at least once per year by a fish health professional.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should establish and maintain a database of enhancement facility fish health – possibly under the Aquaculture Resource Information Management System (ARIMS) that DFO is constructing for salmon farm data. In future years, DFO should use these data to evaluate the effect of diseases and pathogens at fish enhancement facilities on the health of Fraser River sockeye salmon. DFO should provide access to these data to nongovernment scientists for research purposes.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. DFO maintains a database which contains the results of diagnostic testing for cases received from government enhancement hatcheries in the Pacific Region and information from private operations. Data on disease detection are currently provided on a case by case basis to the public as there is private information that must be safe-guarded before releasing the full database. DFO is preparing these data for publication. After the data has been exported in an accessible format, a review will be completed to ensure privacy and information protections are in place. Following this review, the data will be published on the federal Open Data portal (http://open.canada.ca/en/open-data).
The Strategic Salmon Health Initiative (SSHI) has surveyed pathogens, assessment status, predator risk, freshwater associations, and holding studies. Advances have been made in understanding the resilience threshold for juvenile Sockeye Salmon. Funding to partners through the Pacific Salmon Foundation and other initiatives has advanced this work. Progress made on this recommendation is reported below.
Researchers from the collaborative research initiative mentioned in recommendations 64 and 65 are conducting research to address the hypothesis that diseases are transmitted from salmonid enhancement facility (hatchery) salmon to wild Sockeye Salmon as follows
- Quantitative surveys of 47 potential salmon pathogens have been conducted contrasting hatchery-origin and wild-origin migratory salmon, both assessed from fresh water through early marine residence in concentrated studies in 1) Quinsam, 2) Cowichan, and 3) West Coast of Vancouver Island ecosystems. While the direct comparisons are on Chinook and Coho Salmon (hatchery and wild), and differences in agent distributions among them, these studies will provide some resolution on whether hatcheries are releasing fish with higher or different agent abundances than naturally occur in wild-origin salmon.
- Extensive quantitative surveys of 47 potential salmon pathogens have been conducted across natal rearing areas, including hatcheries, streams and lakes producing Sockeye, Chinook and Coho Salmon; these data, collected over a decade of samples, will provide strong resolution of agents consistently more common in hatcheries that carry the highest risk of transmission to wild-origin fish. Contrasts with agent distributions in the lower Fraser River of both hatchery and wild-origin fish will further validate whether transmission occurs during down-stream co-migration.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should, by September 30, 2013, complete and make public a risk assessment of the interactions of Fraser River sockeye salmon with enhanced salmon in the marine environment.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. The summary of the science advice from the first risk assessment in the form of Science Advisory Document and supporting research papers should be available by fall 2017. DFO is currently considering a pilot study to provide an assessment of the disease, genetic, and ecological risks associated with restoring an anadromous Sockeye Salmon run to the Alouette Reservoir (Alouette River Enhancement Program review). This review will in turn provide insight into the broader risks associated with interactions of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon with enhanced (hatchery) salmon in the marine environment.
To date, DFO’s efforts have focused on implementing a formal risk assessment approach to examine disease risks to Fraser River Sockeye Salmon from salmon farms in the Discovery Islands area. The risk assessment is not directly relevant to assessing the risk from the interactions between wild Sockeye Salmon and enhanced salmon.
Twenty of the Cohen recommendations relate to increasing science work in the areas of fish health, stock assessment, and climate change. All recommendations have been acted on, an increase to 100%; 11 recommendations moved from outstanding over the past year largely due to the 2016 investment of $40 million annually for five years to ocean and freshwater science.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should give non-government scientific researchers timely access to primary fish health data collected through DFO’s routine monitoring programs, including data that relate to farmed or wild salmon.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should work with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission or an analogous international organization to address potential interactions in the high seas among wild and enhanced salmon from different countries, including developing plans for enhancement regulation and activities.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada should continue to monitor, at not less than 2010 levels, Fraser River temperature and flow.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. The DFO Environmental Watch program has maintained the Fraser River temperature station network since 2010 and continues to collaborate with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and other partners for flow data. Over the course of the past year, Budget 2016 investment in ocean and freshwater science continued to enhance long-range (pre-season) and in-season forecasting of lower Fraser River summer temperature and flow conditions, which affect the survival of returning adult Sockeye Salmon, and to provide improved support of pre-season fishery planning and in-season fishery management.
As identified in August 2016, this recommendation also falls within ECCC’s mandate and has been acted on by ECCC.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should continue to contribute to the Pacific Salmon Commission’s test-fishing program so it is capable of operating at the 2010 level.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. The Department has continued the test-fishing program, though not at 2010 levels. Because the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon exhibit a four-year cycle of dominant (high abundance) years, DFO is prioritizing efficiency in its test-fishing schedules, and notes that 2010 levels are not always efficient in non-dominant years. DFO is working on a strategy to maintain stable funding for the test-program.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should continue to provide sufficient funding to enable the Pacific Salmon Commission’s hydroacoustic facility at Mission and DFO’s hydroacoustic facility at Qualark to operate at the 2010 level.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. Full operation of both Mission and Qualark has continued annually, including 2017. The level of operation (duration and gear configuration) at both Mission and Qualark varies annually in response to expectations on returning run size and management requirements. Since Fraser River Sockeye Salmon exhibit a four-year cycle of dominant (high abundance) years - 2010 was a dominant year followed by a subdominant year and two off-years with smaller, shorter runs - the level of operation is adjusted annually to match these differences. DFO continues to support these operations and the establishment of appropriate operating levels based on run size and management requirements as an efficient and effective enumeration approach.
A joint DFO-Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) technical working group is assessing the optimal acoustic equipment configuration for in-season Sockeye Salmon management in the lower Fraser River. This work is directed by the bilateral (Canada-US) Fraser Strategic Review Committee with the objective of determining the optimal hydroacoustic program that could be implemented within the regular Mission hydroacoustic budget.
Support for the Mission hydroacoustic facility is provided by Canada through its contributions to the PSC. Budget 2016 investment in ocean and freshwater science provided partial funding for the Qualark facility. However, Qualark operations remain dependent on additional funding from the PSC Southern Endowment Fund to bridge the gap and achieve annual program deliverables. The Department continues to seek ways to stabilize funding on an ongoing basis.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should:
- designate an individual to coordinate scientific, educational, and management efforts in relation to selective fishing practices; and
- study post-release survival rates for all fisheries.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation has been acted on. A report evaluating fishing-related incidental mortality for all Pacific salmon species was peer-reviewed in June 2016, and the resulting Science Advisory Report was published in 2016 (Science Advisory Report 2016/049). There are staffing processes underway for several positions that will coordinate the implementation of DFO’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework; this Framework includes policies that support selective fishing practices, such as policies on bycatch management and fishery monitoring and catch reporting.
With respect to escapement enumeration for Fraser River sockeye salmon returning to their spawning grounds, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should:
- Continue enumeration at not less than the level of precision recommended by DFO Stock Assessment staff for Fraser River sockeye spawning populations in 2010; and
- Determine the calibration (or expansion index) for spawning populations in the 25,000–75,000 range.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. Monitoring standards and the level of precision recommended by DFO in 2010 are specified in the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon assessment framework. The level of precision to be achieved varies among stocks in the Fraser River watershed and is based on the expected abundance of adults returning to a spawning stream in a given year. Streams in which fewer than 75,000 spawning fish are expected are assessed using low precision methods (i.e., visual techniques), while streams with greater than 75,000 spawning fish are assessed using high precision methods. High precision methods (counting fences, sonar, mark-recapture programs) are costlier to deliver and in a year with high adult returns such as 2010, more stocks are assessed with high precision methods. Using the abundance criterion to establish the level of precision to be achieved is an efficient and effective approach to match resources with expected Sockeye Salmon annual returns in the Fraser River.
Monitoring standards and precision that can be achieved have been affected by the erosion in resources available to deliver assessments since 2000.
As resources declined in the 2000s coupled with higher returns to spawning grounds, DFO changed the abundance criterion for low and high precision methods from 25,000 to 75,000 returning salmon. An expansion factor is applied to account for consistent underestimating of visual counts on less than 25,000 fish and there is concern that the application of this factor to abundances of 25,000-75,000 will lead to substantial negative bias in estimates of spawning salmon.
DFO is conducting method intercalibration research with support from the Pacific Salmon Commission Southern Endowment Fund to determine the calibration for spawning populations in the 25,000-75,000 range. Although indices have been developed for 23 visually surveyed Sockeye Salmon populations in medium-and large-sized clear streams and in partially turbid/tannic streams, calibration of other stream types and lake spawning populations has not been completed. Opportunities to conduct calibration studies are limited because the work involves comparing estimates generated using high precision enumeration techniques and those generated using low precision visual techniques. Intercalibration work is expected to be completed in the next 1-2 years.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should double, from two to four, the number of lakes in the Fraser River basin in which it conducts annual lake stock assessments as well as annual monitoring programs to estimate fall fry populations.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO staff have planned the expansion of the field work required to deliver on this recommendation, which includes four fry productivity lake assessments in any given year, and a larger rotational scheme that targets dominant sockeye years to conduct productivity assessments in more than four lakes. Efforts are underway to implement the plan in 2017-18. This expanded lakes program is partially funded by the Budget 2016 investment in ocean and freshwater science, and DFO continues to seek ways to stabilize funding for it on an ongoing basis.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should allocate funding for stock assessment of other salmon species that share the Fraser River with sockeye salmon.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO Science has focused stock assessment on core species (Sockeye and Chinook), although additional work has been done on other salmon species.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should support the involvement of members of First Nations in escapement enumeration and other stock assessment activities in their traditional territories.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should undertake or commission research on Fraser River sockeye salmon smolts at the mouth of the Fraser River estuary, before they enter the Strait of Georgia, to determine stock / Conservation Unit abundance, health, condition, and rates of mortality.
Work on this recommendation is ongoing. DFO is engaged in collaborative studies to survey 47 potential pathogens along the freshwater and early marine migration route of Sockeye Salmon, and will specifically incorporate extensive lower Fraser River samples in this analysis. DFO is also conducting smolt tracking studies from natal rearing areas to the northern Strait of Georgia with researchers from the University of British Columbia. DFO has developed molecular biology tools to detect the presence of specific stressors such as temperature, low oxygen, and disease in individual fish, but these tools require validation to assess Sockeye Salmon smolt or adult fish condition.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should undertake or commission research, in collaboration with academic researchers and, if possible, the Pacific Salmon Commission or another appropriate organization, into where and when significant mortality occurs in the near-shore marine environment, through studies of the outmigration from the mouth of the Fraser River through to the coastal Gulf of Alaska, including the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait, the west coast of Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound, and Hecate Strait. Studies should examine:
- abundance, health, condition, and rates of mortality of Fraser River sockeye salmon;
- biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic variables, including water temperature, the presence or absence of harmful algal blooms, and disease;
- predators, pathogens, competition, and interactions with enhanced salmon affecting Fraser River sockeye salmon; and
- contaminants, especially contaminants of emerging concern, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and complex mixtures.
The Department continues to address this recommendation. DFO is engaged in collaborations with partners including the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF), and Genome BC to undertake several research projects including
- Surveys of 47 potential pathogens along the freshwater and early marine migration route of Sockeye Salmon from the mouth of the Fraser River to the Gulf of Alaska over multiple years;
- Smolt tracking with UBC from natal rearing areas through receivers in the Johnstone and Juan de Fuca Straits to provide information on the locations of mortality, and in conjunction with pathogen monitoring, can be used to explore whether survival is linked to freshwater pathogens;
- Cumulative impact studies, including assessing the role of infection status on predation risk;
- Studies on interactions between hatchery and wild fish.
While not yet validated, DFO has developed biomarkers to predict the presence of specific stressors like temperature, low oxygen, osmotic pressure, and viral disease that will further advance assessing the health of fish during outmigration.
DFO has the mandate to conduct research on biological effects of various contaminants on fish. DFO’s National Contaminants Advisory Group has commissioned research projects associated with the biological effects of contaminants on Pacific salmon, including assessing adverse effects of emerging chemical contaminants (e.g. pharmaceuticals and personal care products, nanoparticles, and brominated flame retardants) on fishes of commercial, Aboriginal, and recreational value to Canadians. Further details regarding research projects on contaminants and their impacts on Pacific salmon are included in response to recommendation 53.
In furtherance of Canada’s understanding about what regulates Fraser River sockeye abundance and distribution, Canada should propose an international, integrated ecosystem research program to measure biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic variables in the offshore Gulf of Alaska. Some or all of the research would be conducted in collaboration with academic researchers, the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), and/or the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was reported as directed at the Government of Canada, and has been acted on. A proposal by Canada to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) to lead the International Year of the Salmon in 2019 to further understand the factors regulating salmon abundance and distribution in the northern Hemisphere, including Fraser River sockeye, was accepted by the NPAFC and endorsed by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO). Planning is currently underway for a collaborative International Gulf of Alaska Winter Salmon Study as part of International Year of the Salmon involving researchers from Russia, Canada, the United States, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation. The study will measure biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic variables in the Gulf of Alaska that may influence salmon abundance and distribution.
The fish health research priorities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should reflect its responsibility for the conservation of wild fish. To that end, DFO’s science managers should encourage innovation and new research into novel diseases and other conditions affecting wild fish, beyond the interests of specific “clients” such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or aquaculture management.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO is actively engaged in a variety of innovative and new research into novel diseases funded through a combination of internal DFO sources as well as collaborations with external partners. This research focus has resulted in the publication of three 2016 scientific papers on novel diseases:
- DiCicco E, Ferguson HW, Schulze AD, Kaukinen KH, Li S, Vanderstichel R, Wessel Ø, Rimstad, E, Gardner IA, Hammell KL, Miller KM. 2016. Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) disease diagnosed on a British Columbia salmon farm through a longitudinal farm study. PLOS One: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171471
- Polinski MP, Bradshaw JC, Inkpen SM, Richard JR, Fritsvold C, Poppe TT, Rise ML, Garver KA, Johnson SC. 2016. De novo assembly of Sockeye salmon kidney transcriptomes reveal a limited early response to piscine reovirus with or without infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus superinfection. BMC Genomics (2016) 17:848 DOI 10.1186/s12864-016-3196-y
- Garver KA, Johnson SC, Polinski MP, Bradshaw JC, Marty GD, Snyman HN, Morrison DB, Richard J. 2016. Piscine Orthoreovirus from Western North America is Transmissible to Atlantic Salmon and Sockeye Salmon but fails to cause Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146229. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146229
DFO is engaged in a broader collaborative research initiative with external partners (see recommendation 65) to do innovative research to develop and validate a pathogen monitoring platform to simultaneously assess several potential pathogens that are not of interest to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or other clients. This collaboration developed a viral disease panel that can identify fish that have been infected, but are not presenting symptoms. The viral disease panel can differentiate between viral and bacterial diseases using a gill tissue sample. A similar tool is under development for bacterial and parasitic diseases. DFO’s use of the viral disease panel has led to the identification of several previously uncharacterized viruses in Pacific salmon. Finally, the initiative is conducting analyses to determine whether environmental DNA samples could be used as a non-destructive approach to assess pathogen and harmful algal bloom species prevalence and abundance in the water column, with two collaborative studies on this topic underway.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should undertake or commission research into the health of Fraser River sockeye salmon, including the following issues:
- determining, in conjunction with the research proposed in Recommendations 64 and 65, what pathogens are encountered by Fraser River sockeye salmon along their entire migratory route, and the cumulative effects of these pathogens on Fraser River sockeye salmon;
- the hypothesis that diseases are transmitted from farmed salmon to wild sockeye;
- the hypothesis that diseases are transmitted from salmonid enhancement facility salmon to wild sockeye; and
- the thresholds of sea lice infection and resilience in sockeye and the patterns of sea lice distribution and infection on juvenile sockeye.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. DFO in partnership with Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) and Genome BC continues work which was announced in August 2016. The collaborative research initiative mentioned in recommendations 64 and 65 is conducting research into the health of Fraser River sockeye salmon to specifically address the following
- Surveying potential pathogens (described above) along smolt migration from fresh water natal rearing areas through migration into Queen Charlotte Sound;
- Assessing cumulative impact of infection status on predation risk imposed by fresh water fish (bull trout) and sea birds (Auklet);
- Assessing associations between infectious agents carried in fresh water and migratory survival of Pacific salmon smolts through acoustic tracking studies;
- Identifying through experiments that hold fish at different temperatures to show linkages between river temperatures and pathogen replication/impact on adult migrants;
- Holding studies examining catch-release fisheries/handling stress and disease progression;
- Assessing, in both out-migrating smolts and adult return-migrants, pathogens that are commonly found as co-infections, and their co-impact on performance.
Over the past four years, DFO has also demonstrated progress on understanding the threshold of sea lice infection and resilience in Sockeye Salmon. The work has identified the threshold number of sea lice at which mortality occurs (a mean of 5 to 7 adult sea lice per fish). It has also shown that 1-2 sea lice can cause changes in blood chemistry of juvenile fish. This work is ongoing and DFO is exploring whether Sockeye Salmon display genomic markers that are indicative of their resilience (or susceptibility) status.
DFO staff co-authored a 2015 Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat document which included information on patterns of sea lice distribution and infection, and summarized reported sea lice levels on juvenile wild salmon in the Pacific ) http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas-sccs/publications/resdocs-docrech/2015/2015_004-eng.html
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should undertake or commission research into the life history of the Harrison River sockeye population.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. Assessment and forecast activities with respect to Harrison River Sockeye Salmon are conducted annually by DFO. In addition, DFO has and continues to conduct research into the life history and dynamics of the Harrison River Sockeye Salmon population, including plans to begin a study on the juvenile life stage in the next year and two upcoming papers for publication. Previous research has been published in international peer reviewed scientific journals, including most recently:
Beamish R J, Neville CM, Sweeting RM, Beacham TD, Wade J, Li L. 2016. Early ocean life history of Harrison River Sockeye Salmon and their contribution to the biodiversity of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 145: 348-362.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should initiate, along with the appropriate state agencies in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, a long-term working group devoted to coordinating the collection and analysis of data on the productivity of their sockeye salmon populations. The working group should invite a knowledgeable and independent entity, such as the Pacific Salmon Commission, to act as coordinator for the working group.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. Canada and the United States, through the Standing Committee on Scientific Cooperation of the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC), have taken steps to collect and analyse productivity data for Sockeye Salmon populations. A report focusing on environmental and biological extrema of 2015 and 2016, and the impacts on salmon population productivity from the Bering Sea through southeast Alaska and British Columbia to as far south as the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington was recently completed and is posted on the Pacific Salmon Commission website (http://www.psc.org/download/387/2017-32nd-annual-meeting/7843/extrema-report-2015-2016-mckinnell.pdf).
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should develop and carry out a research strategy to assess the cumulative effects of stressors on Fraser River sockeye salmon and their habitats. Cumulative effects may include multiple sources of a stressor, exposure to stressors over the life cycle of Fraser River sockeye, or exposure to multiple types of stressors interacting in a cumulative manner.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. A progress report has been completed, but studies identifying biomarkers have yet to be validated. Risk assessments have been completed, but no single framework approach has been identified. The Oceans Protection Plan will support ongoing research into cumulative effects of stressors on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and their habitats.
DFO has developed several risk assessment frameworks to identify cumulative stressor effects on species and their habitats and has begun the process of selecting frameworks to form the research approach to assess the cumulative effects of stressors on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and their habitats. In addition, some background studies to support the implementation of the framework have been undertaken, including the identification of potential stressors (see responses to recommendations 65, 67, and 68).
DFO collaborates with the University of British Columbia to study returns, and has models that look at historical returns. However, as cumulative effects assessments have not been standardized by the science community, work on this recommendation remains ongoing.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should develop and maintain a central inventory of information about existing and new Fraser River sockeye salmon research, including who has custody of it and where it can be located. DFO should make the inventory available to the public, and make the information in the inventory available to non-DFO scientific researchers.
This recommendation was reported as outstanding in August 2016, and has been acted on. The Department has initiated the development of an inventory on Sockeye Salmon research that will identify the custodians and location, and is investigating how to make this inventory publicly available in the current fiscal year.
To improve future sustainability of the Fraser River sockeye, the Government of Canada should champion, within Canada and internationally, reasonable steps to address the causes of warming waters and climate change.
As reported in August 2016, this recommendation was reported as directed at the Government of Canada in August 2016, and has been acted on. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is the lead agency on the climate change file. Domestically, Canada is working with the provinces to implement the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Internationally, Canada remains committed to the Paris Agreement and is working with international partners to develop the Paris Work Programme that Parties agreed to complete in 2018. DFO works to address climate change impacts in aquatic ecosystems as a part of an ECCC-led, whole-of-government effort. Through this work, the Department conducts vulnerability assessments on Pacific species, including salmon, to warming waters and continues to monitor trends in sea surface temperature, oxygen levels, and ocean acidification in freshwater and marine areas. These monitoring data are important to understanding the causes of change and are used by DFO in studies to quantify the rate of change in freshwaters and marine waters inhabited by Pacific salmon.
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