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Research Document - 2012/106

Integrated Biological Status Assessments Under the Wild Salmon Policy Using Standardized Metrics and Expert Judgement: Fraser River Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Case Studies

By S.C.H. Grant and G. Pestal


The 24 Fraser Sockeye Conservation Units (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 Fraser Sockeye case studies represent data rich CUs in the Pacific Region, with long time series of stock-recruitment data, a few CUs are also data limited (e.g. Chilliwack-ES only has some recent spawner abundance data).

Status integration was evaluated during a three day technical workshop, which included the development of both final integrated status for each Fraser Sockeye CU (which include one or more WSP status zones) and commentaries on the information used to assess status. For the workshop, two page standardized data summaries were produced for each Fraser Sockeye CU case study. Data summaries included WSP biological 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. 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.

Each CU case study was evaluated first in small group sessions (four to six participants per group) and, subsequently, in 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, were re-visited with the goal to narrow down a CU’s status to a final single status zone (where possible), and to fine tune 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 integrated status designation or that could be added to the CU status commentaries.

Integrated status results from this workshop complete WSP status determinations for Fraser Sockeye, which follows up on the recently published exploration of uncertainty in WSP status metrics for these CUs. Final statuses for 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 amongst groups and expert commentary (which identified key metrics and associated data that guided these status determinations) are also summarized, and are necessary for CU status interpretation in WSP Strategy 4: Integrated Strategic Planning.

Although each group moved through the CU summary information in different sequences, there was considerable similarity amongst groups regarding which considerations drove their final status determinations.

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