Science Advisory Report  2012/056

Integrated biological status of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) under the Wild Salmon Policy

Summary

  • The 24 Fraser Sockeye CUs were used as case studies to explore methods of status integration for Strategy 1 of the Wild Salmon Policy (WSP): Standardized Monitoring of Wild Salmon Status. Although most of these case studies represent data rich CUs in the Pacific Region, with long time series of stock-recruitment data, a few Fraser Sockeye CUs are also data limited (e.g. Chilliwack-ES has only some recent spawner abundance data).
  • Status integration was evaluated during a three day technical workshop, which included the development of both final status designations for each Fraser Sockeye CU and commentaries on the information used to assess status. This work completes WSP status determinations for Fraser Sockeye, which follows up on the recently published exploration of uncertainty in WSP status metrics for these CUs (Grant et al. 2011).
  • For the workshop, two-page standardized data summaries were produced for each Fraser Sockeye CU. Summaries included WSP status information for a number of metrics (e.g. relative abundance, short-term trends in abundance, and long-term trends in abundance) and other biological data relevant to their interpretation.
  • CU data summaries were grouped into three different sets of case studies: two sets for non-cyclic CUs and one set for cyclic CUs. Case studies were evaluated ‘blind’, with generic labels rather than CU names. The decision to evaluate case studies ‘blind’ was made to facilitate the development of a standardized WSP status integration approach, to focus discussion on the metrics presented in Grant et al. (2011) for status integration, and to facilitate discussion between experts with detailed local and CU-specific knowledge and those with broader salmonid and status evaluation experience.
  • For each of the three case study sets, the workshop was structured to include a combination of small group sessions (four to six participants per group) and plenary sessions (all 34 workshop participants).
  • On the final day of the workshop, the integrated status for each CU, developed in the previous days’ plenary sessions, was re-visited with the goal to reconcile group results into a final single status zone, where possible, and to fine tune status commentaries.
  • Also on the final day of the workshop, CU names were revealed to provide participants with the opportunity to introduce any specific supplementary information that might support a change in the integrated status designation, or that could be added to the CU status commentaries.
  • Final integrated status for each of the 24 Fraser Sockeye CUs included the following: seven Red, four Red/Amber, four Amber, two Amber/Green, five Green, one Data Deficient, and one Undetermined. Detailed status results for each of the groups and expert commentary (which identified key metrics and associated data that guided these status determinations) are published separately, and are necessary for CU status interpretation in WSP Strategy 4.
  • Integrated status determination for cyclic CUs presented the largest challenge to participants. Specifically, the appropriate method for estimating benchmarks for the relative-abundance metric of cyclic CUs was debated. Since this issue could not be resolved at the workshop, these metrics for cyclic CUs were excluded from status evaluations. The unique population dynamics of these CUs further added complexity to cyclic CU status evaluations.
  • Although each group moved through the CU summary information in different sequences, there was considerable similarity amongst groups regarding which considerations drove their final integrated status determinations.

This Science Advisory Report is from the November 14-16, 2011 meeting on the Guidelines for Integration of Wild Salmon Policy Biological (Strategy 1) Status Indicators and their Application to Fraser River Sockeye Conservation Units.  Additional publications from this process will be posted as they become available on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Science Advisory Schedule.

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